Beyoglu and Taksim, meeting place and heart of Istanbul; culture, art, entertainment center, round-the-clock busy.
Everyone has a different definition for Beyoğlu. Everyone also has a different memory of Taksim Square. When you say Beyoğlu, İstiklal Avenue comes to your mind first, and later crowded. People flood into Istiklal everywhere in the world. You dive into the crowd in Istiklal Avenue. You hear the sound of the tram coming from your back and then you move over. The road is for the tramway. I think there are dozens of different people, workplaces, shopping centers in and around Beyoglu, the most cosmopolitan neighborhood in the world, not just this country.
Taksim Square, which is a Turkish mosaic, has functioned as the meeting place of İstanbul, and it is used as a place for ceremonies and protests at times.
Travel Guide: Beyoğlu-Taksim and its Surroundings
The places where night or day life is most active are Beyoğlu and Taksim Square and it has the busiest entertainment places in Istanbul. It can be said that it is a kind of entrance gate of Beyoglu. To go to Taksim Square, you can take the tram to Kabataş and then you can go to the funicular railway that is coming to the square or you can come by bus 61B in front of the Grand Bazaar. Taksim Square also has an important subway network compared to other central points of Istanbul. You can go to Istanbul by subway from many points in European Side. If you live in Asia Side, you should take the Marmaray and then take the Taksim-Hacıosman metro line.
Taksim is the heart of Istanbul with its tram, monument, domed church, Hüseyin Aga Mosque, and Istiklal Avenue. Taksim has an interesting name story like every other city. A cistern was built to provide the water needs of people living in the Boğazici geography. To carry water or split up, a small building built. So, the name of the square, Taksim, comes from that Galata-Beyoglu water was carrying or “split up ( in Turkish ‘taksim edilmek’)”.
Taksim, before being square, is a neighborhood which has old and narrow streets, and old buildings. It has today’s view after it turned into a square. The Republic Monument and its surroundings, which located in the center of the square, are the places for ceremonies nowadays. Taksim Square has the same role just as for the English’s Trafalgar Square. The monument sculptures made by the Italian artist Pietro Canonica tell not only the victory of the Turkish War of Independence but also the Establishment of the Republic. At the same time, Taksim Square provides an incredible traffic connection.
When you come to Taksim, one of the most important bus stops in Istanbul is located right across The Marmara Hotel. We can call the northern side of the square as a summary of the world. On the other hand, there are many important streets connected to square such as Siraselviler Avenue, Gümüşsuyu Avenue and İstiklal Avenue which only used for pedestrian traffic. Access to all kinds of hotels, cafes, bars, and restaurants is very easy. You can go everywhere within walking distance. You can have a nostalgic journey by tram. Gümüşsuyu Avenue gets you to the Bosphorus, namely Dolmabahçe.
Gümüşsuyu (İnönü) Avenue
To Idris Aga Fountain, which located on the road from Taksim to Dolmabahçe and the fountain which is nearby Military Hospital at the times, the water was carried from the upper reservoir or known as ‘gömüş in Turkish’. Over the time, “gömüşsuyu” became “gümüşsuyu (Silverwater)”. Gümüşsuyu is one of the most exclusive streets of Istanbul with its scenic views. The part of avenue linked to Taksim is called Ayaspaşa.
Talimhane is one of the most important centers of Beyoğlu which has undergone a radical change at short notice. Talimhane, with restored buildings, disposed of signboard pollution and also reorganized its landscaping. Many shops, cafes, and hotels come into service. There are at least thirty-five hotels. It is very advantageous for you to stay in the region because of the proximity to İstiklal Avenue and Taksim. When you walk down from the Talimhane where there are many hotels, you arrive at Tarlabaşı.
“Tarlabaşı, the center of İstanbul”
Tarlabaşı Boulevard is parallel to İstiklal Avenue and goes south to the Golden Horn. On the Taksim side of Tarlabaşı, there are smaller old houses, similar to the ones you saw on İstiklal Caddesi and Cihangir. When Tarlabasi Boulevard expanded in the 1980s, hundreds of historical houses destroyed. There are many churches in the backstreets of Tarlabaşı and Dolapdere. Unfortunately, churches are closed and not performed a religious ceremony except on most special days. You can only see inside of them Sunday mornings if there is a ceremony.
Cihangir and Çukurcuma
This city took its name from Cihangir, son of Süleyman the Magnificent. It is one of the favorite living areas of Istanbul thanks to its proximity to Istiklal Avenue. In the neighborhood where you find unimagined beauty, Çukurcuma is just some of them with Cihangir and Firuzağa mosques. It is not known whether there is another place to protect such a center as well as the neighborhoods. But it is an understanding thing that Cihangir is a republic of cats at the same time. It is very natural to choose the cat as a symbol of the city. This neighborhood is completely brand with its the most characteristic examples of Greek architecture. When you travel in Cihangir, where foreigners who are settled in Istanbul, you should not be surprised to children playing French in the streets. Sıraselviler Street, one of the busiest streets of Cihangir, connects Taksim Square to Tophane.
When you walk towards the west from Firuz Aga Mosque you will see Çukurcuma. It is thought that its name was taken by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror prayed first Friday prayer (Cuma namazı) here after the conquest of him. The best antiques in Istanbul kept here. Where it begins and where it ends is still has an uncertainty for many people. The Ağa Bath, which you will see in Çukurcuma, was built in 1562 to provide income to the Fenerbahçe Sea Lighthouse. Today, it serves tourists. It is best to get lost in the narrow streets of this place to discover this place. Çukurcuma is a place which stops the time for someone. While visiting the small local shops, enjoy a different environment than the modern revolt of Istiklal Avenue at walking distance.
Şişhane, Tepebaşı and Pera Museum
With the Magnificent Golden Horn View
Şişhane is one of the most popular places of Beyoglu in recent times. Şişhane and Tepebaşı are places where old buildings restored and houses made into offices or tourist enterprises. It used as graveyards until the end of the 19th century but now it makes its guests happy with the spectacular views of the Golden Horn. The Tepebaşı, which opened in 1870, became a settlement preferred by foreigners and Levantine. The re-fashioned district has one of the best exhibitions in Istanbul, which is the Pera Museum. Pera Palas Hotel, which lodges Atatürk as well as its many famous people, is very close. The magnificent 19th-century buildings are used as consulate buildings, which arrange at the Meşrutiyet Street.
Pera Museum, which is a magnificent building on the Meşrutiyet Street, reflects the historical atmosphere of Tepebaşı very well. Osman Hamdi Bey’s work titled “Turtle Tracer” also takes part in the Pera Museum collection, so it is one of the most important museums of the city providing cultural and artistic features. Once, Pera, which is the name was given to the area around İstiklal Avenue, was the home of foreign diplomats and European merchants known as Levantines. The houses here in the 19th century were built of stone material for durability. Thus, extremely dangerous fires that have become a part of everyday life can be avoided. In addition to the private collection on the first floors, the other three floors provide space for both domestic and international exhibitions.
One small suggestion: Start visiting the museum from the top floor. In the meantime, pay attention to the elevator you use when you go up. The doors are often decorated with photographs of the details of the works exhibited at that moment.
What Should You Do in İstiklal Avenue?
There are many art galleries you can visit with the changing exhibitions along Istiklal Avenue. You can follow the events of where you are. Famous shopping passages in Istiklal Avenue; Visit the famous Atlas Passage, the famous European Passage where you can buy souvenirs, and the Aznavur Passage, which carries traces of Italian baroque architecture. You can walk in Asmalimescit in the evening hours and later you can eat in one of the places that are based on ancient history. You can visit the historic fish market and eat fish at Çiçek Passage. Watching movies at the Atlas Cinema, which is considered one of the historical cinemas of Istanbul, will help you to have a nostalgic atmosphere. If you are curious about second-hand books, you can visit the bookstores of Aslıhan Passage, and look at old photos, magazines, and posters. If you like entertainment, you can join live music shows. You can walk on Istiklal Avenue more than all these activities.
Places to Visit in İstiklal Avenue
To say “I visited Istanbul“, the most important, perhaps the first condition is to walk on Istiklal Avenue. You need to sniff the air of the avenue. If you have walked into the crowd, it means you have come to Istanbul!
After passing Galatasaray High School, you came to the consulates where the 19th-century buildings located. You are walking on the historic Pera, once called “Grande Rue de Pera”. There is history in every room, every wall. Many churches and beautiful buildings fascinate you including St. Antuan Churches and more. Until the Tunnel Square at the end of the road, there are so many things in the avenue that it wants to tell you something…
The French Street behind Galatasaray High School was known as Algeria Street until 2004. The street was ornamented and painted the fuchsia color. They made its name “French” in order to sound nice. The ill luck of Algeria continued here! As time passed, “Superficial French” left its place in a mixture of Turkish and world cuisine.
It is located in a small square where the corner of Yeni Çarşı Street and Istiklal Avenue. You can see the sculpture made by Şadi Çalık in the memory of the 50th anniversary of the Republic. Yapı Kredi Nedim Tör Museum and Kazım Taşkent Art Gallery, located directly on the corner of the Yapı Kredi Bookstore, hosts to exhibitions including from history to art in a wide range. There is no admission charge.
Although the Çiçek Passage is still in demand, someone who wants to eat and have fun mostly prefers Nevizade behind Fish Market. It is guaranteed that you will have one of the most fun nights of your trip here. You should come with a group and let the atmosphere hug you.
Centenary Story of Mısır Apartment
The Mısır Apartment was built in 1905 by Hovsep Aznavurian, and it was made as a winter house for Hidivi Abbas Halim Pasha. The building was sold to Hayri Ipar from the sugar kings of the period by his successors when Abbas Halim Pasha passed away in the 1940s. During the years that Ippar family lived in the Mısır Apartment, they saw a series of changes. The seventh and eighth floors were added to the building; the terraces were closed and used as an office.
Odakule, which is not at all attractive from the outside, attracts attention to exhibitions made at the art gallery on the entrance floor. There is a Surp Yerrortutyun Armenian Catholic Church next to Perukar Blind Street. Pera Museum is on the left side of the passage next to Odakule after Tepebaşı.
The Oldest Subway ‘Tünel’ and its Surrounding
Tunnel and its surroundings have been re-remembered thanks to the trend of “discovering history” which is fashionable in Istanbul recently. A lot of buildings were restored and joined our life with new functions. To reach town which has deluxe restaurants of Istanbul, you can choose ‘tunnel’ which is Europe’s second oldest one, and Turkey’s first subway.
İstiklal Avenue was popular with Taksim Square before, but later the demand has changed and thanks to the new restaurants and places, people have discovered the south side of the city.
To reach Tunel, you have to walk along the street or get on a tram from Istiklal Avenue. The most enjoyable is to get in the funicular from Karaköy tram stop, and you should get off Tunnel Square which is the only stop of this old subway. It was modernized in 2008 and was built by French Eugene Henri Gavand between 1871 and 1874 and started to work in 1875. Detailed information about the history of Tünel which is the third oldest metro system in the world after London and New York, is available at the Karaköy station.
At the tram line at the end of Istiklal Avenue, you will see a long chimney. From 1874 to 1970, it was operated using generators that produce funicular steam. This chimney is proof of that period.
Galata Mevlevi Lodge
You will reach one of the dervish lodges in Istanbul on Galipdede Street. The lodge, built in 1492, is located in an 18th-century complex. Today it has a social complex yard full of cats. There are many beautiful Ottoman gravestones including Dede Galip and Sufi poets of the 19th century
Sema shows are done in octagonal semahane (the building where Mevlevi dervishes perform the sema) on the wooden floor. The viewers watch the show either in the upper section or around the hall. Contrary to ordinary, women in white dresses are turning side by side with white dressed men. The collection of the Divan Literature Museum, in which many old manuscripts and musical instruments are found, is exhibited in the surrounding showcase
Galata Tower has established that it is like saying that I am the owner of Istanbul. Everyone is aware that we owe the most beautiful of the Istanbul landscapes on Galata Tower. You can also see the seven hills of the seven-hill city. It is 69,9 meters in height which you can enjoy the 360-degree view of Istanbul. Today it is used as a restaurant. To reach the Galata Tower, you should get on the funicular from Karaköy Tunnel and get off the last stop, and later turn right and turn right again. You will see the tower.