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BLOG Guide to the Beyoglu area of Istanbul Turkey

17 July 2022 / Travel

Guide to the Beyoglu

The Beyoglu area of Istanbul, Turkey, earns countrywide fame for modern vibes entwined with an intriguing historical background. Sitting in European Istanbul, next to the Golden Horn, Beyoglu presents another face to the city, away from the historical Sultanahmet district with the UNESCO World heritage sites that people flock from all over the world to see. Previously called Pera up until the 20th century, the Beyoglu district includes smaller neighbourhoods, all of which are a delight to explore. In addition, on the housing market, Beyoglu commands high prices per square meter in Istanbul, but home buyers tap into an authentic district with much to offer.

                                                      About the Beyoglu area of Istanbul

1: History of Beyoglu

Although the history stretches back centuries, the Genoese and Venetian periods sparked Beyoglu’s international reputation, as merchants from all over the world flocked to the district to trade goods. However, things were all to change when the Ottomans invaded in 1453. The Genoese sided with the Byzantine empire. Although they were allowed to stay in Pera, their rule and dominance were replaced. By the 19th century, Pera still acted as a central trading point for merchants. Still, other countries began to house their consulates there, giving Pera multicultural vibes, where cultures entwined to give birth to new ideas and living standards.

Beyoglu Houses Istanbul

Everything thrived, including art, fashion, culture, transport, theatre, education, and cinema. Modernisation made other places like the historical Sultanahmet district look old and out of date. Even Sultan Abdulmecid moved from Topkapi Palace into the newly built Dolmabahce palace in nearby Besiktas. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed and the new Turkish Republic was formed, Pera's name changed to Beyoglu. However, gradual decline up until the 1980s quickly replaced the prestigious reputation Beyoglu once had. At the turn of the century, the council invested much into roads, pavements, modernising and restoring the historic buildings. As a result, Beyoglu once again became known as the new Istanbul.

2: Foreigners in Beyoglu

Throughout history, Beyoglu has homed many foreigners living in Istanbul and still does today. Neighbourhoods like Cihangir now command a cosmopolitan reputation, with various nationalities choosing to set up homes there. There are international schools nearby, and the range of international and domestic brand names perfectly suits their lifestyle, providing a touch of home combined with Turkish influences. Some foreigners rent while others choose to buy property in Beyoglu. Although commanding a higher price, the central location, international reputation, and proximity to all amenities make this real estate investment worthwhile.

3: Nightlife and Eating Out

Both visitors and residents have the best selection of restaurants, bars, and clubs to enjoy themselves once the sun goes down. Whether you want fine top-notch dining, traditional Turkish restaurants, a quiet sit-down jazz bar or a club with heavy metal bands, after-dark choices will always be accommodated. Places like Vikro Levi, Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi, Hazzopulo Winehouse and Pano have prestigious reputations as wine houses. Other pubs centre themselves around Tunnel Passage and Nevizade Street. Visit French Street, otherwise known as Cezayir, for a large selection of restaurants and bars with live music. At the same time, other famous places include Babylon, Nu Pera, Kemanic, Maksim, 360, and Andon. Asmalimescit street features Turkish restaurants and bars. In contrast, the fish market is the place to head for seafood. Also, keep an eye out for the street food vendors, and as to expect, you will find international brand names like Mcdonald's, Burger King and dominos.

4: Istiklal Avenue

The beating heart of Beyoglu is the 1.6-mile-long Istiklal avenue that millions of people walk up and down every day. Various Turkish and international brand name shops line both sides, but for tourists, an interesting aspect is the 19th-century buildings on either side featuring Art Nouveau and Neoclassical architecture. The other main feature, the historical red tram, often appears in travel magazines as Beyoglu's local mascot.

Istiklal Avenue Istanbul

5: Flower Passage

This small gathering of pubs and restaurants sits within a narrow building with an intriguing history. Originally built as a theatre but burned to the ground in a fire, the landmark was rebuilt to be a small collection of shops instead. The name flower passage came about because people flocked from Russia during the 1917 revolution to live in Istanbul, and the women sold flowers in small shops. in 1988, Beyoglu authorities restored and opened bars and restaurants, and during the weekends, gets very busy.

6: Pera Palace Hotel

Visit the Pera Palas hotel for a refreshment break and savour its nostalgic 19th-century history. Built to host Orient Express passengers and owned by the Jumeirah chain, the hotel hosted high dignity European visitors because it was Turkey's first hotel to install electricity and hot running water. Now under Turkish law protection because of its cultural heritage, Agatha Christine penned her famous novel, The Orient Express, in a room which opens to the Beyoglu public as a museum.

7: Galata Whirling Dervish Museum

This former Mawlawi house was home to whirling Sufism dervishes who follow an ancient sect of Islam. The museum section displays artefacts, but visitors can buy tickets to their evening performances of the Sema ritual. This is where the whirling dervishes perform certain moves to the music to achieve a state of consciousness that is at one with God.

8: Misir Gallery

Misir Apartmani, a prominent historic building on Istiklal Avenue, has hosted many famous people. Translating into "Egypt Apartment," the art nouveau architecture dates from 1910. While its former role was home to dignitaries, the building in Beyoglu is now a leading contemporary art gallery.

9: Saint Anthony of Padua Church - Istanbul

The Saint Anthony church highlights diverse religions in Istanbul because the church still performs Christian services on Sundays. While the exterior highlights early 19th-century architectural trends, the French neo-gothic interior style is a humble but majestic dedication to Istanbul's Christian community. Saint Anthony of Padua Church is one of Istanbul's most prominent Catholic churches, and outside of services, people can enter to see the interior architecture, pray, and light a candle. Pope John preached here for ten years until he became pope.

10: Galatasaray Hamam

This hamam, built in 1481, sits within a mosque compound. Throughout history, the hamam served Galatasaray Liseli students and locals still use it today. The Yanasma welcomes customers who undress in private rooms and put on a pestemal before heading into the steam room to lie on the marble slab for the massage. Customers can relax at their pleasure after the steaming and soaping experience with a traditional glass of Turkish tea.

Art in Beyoglu Istanbul

11: The Pera Museum of Beyoglu

Situated near the Misir Apartmani, the Pera Museum earns fame because of the "Tortoise Trainer" painting by Osman Bey Hamdi that, in 2004, sold for a staggering 3.5 million USD. However, this private collection has other historical and modern pieces that delight even novice, art enthusiasts. Pera Museum in Tepebasi was founded in 2005 by the Suna and İnan Kirac Foundation. The museum focuses on Orientalism in 19th-century art but is also interested in education and educational programs.

12: Galata Tower in Karakoy

The seventy-metre-high Galata tower is perfect for marvellous 360-degree views over the Bosphorus and Istanbul's skyline. The Genoese building, which means the tower of Christ in Latin, sits a short distance from Galata bridge. Including nine stories, the 14th-century first tower suffered massive damage during a fire in 1831. But in 1960, Istanbul tourism officials replaced wooden interior features with concrete. Daytime views from the platform are the best, or buy a ticket to their Turkish night shows, although the night view isn't as good.

Galata Tower Beyoglu Istanbul

13: Taksim Square and the Independence Statue

At the top of Istiklal Avenue, the independence statue serves as the local landmark and a popular place to take photos. The figure built by Italian Sculptor Pietro Canonica depicts Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the modern-day Turkish Republic, alongside the men who helped him.

14: Cukurcuma District

Cukurcuma neighbourhood, a few streets back from Istiklal Avenue, has many claims to fame. Firstly, roughly 100 antique shops sell quirky items from Istanbul's past, which are interesting to rummage through and if you want to buy original souvenirs. Secondly, expect lots of street cats hanging around on every corner. They are a focal point of the community, with many people feeding them. Finally, the neighbourhood is where Turkey's most famous male author Orhan Pamuk set up his Museum of Innocence. Named after his novel, the museum displays everyday items from Istanbul's past.

15: Cihangir Neighbourhood

In this part of Istanbul's Beyoglu district, artists, writers, and actors love the area's culture and laid-back bohemian lifestyle. Cihangir near Istanbul's Taksim Square is a maze of brightly coloured stucco facades featuring vintage stores, boutiques, popular restaurants and cafes, trendy galleries, and antique shops. Cihangir is also one of the most popular districts for ex-pats looking to move to Istanbul.

16: The Karakoy District

Artistic Karakoy has a dual personality with the new modern architecture along the Bosphorus side of Karakoy towards the Tophane area, which contrasts with the street vendors and fish mongers toward the Halic Bay area. Karakoy is Istanbul's hippest district with cool cafes, chic restaurants, and art galleries. Young Turks with an international background brought a stylish sensibility to Karakoy and essentially turned the community feel around.

Karakoy Istanbul

Also About Istanbul

The Besiktas District: The Beyoglu area of Istanbul sits next to the official Besiktas district. Besiktas's importance to Istanbul ranges from its football club to historical attractions to daily vibes attracting expats looking to live in Istanbul. As a result, Besiktas is one of Istanbul's most prominent districts, with increasingly more independent travellers visiting to discover the hype. They are not disappointed either, and Besiktas's impressive reputation has gone from countrywide to global fame.

About Us: We are Turkey Homes, founded by Tolga Ertukel, who has sold Turkish property to a global audience for over 20 years. We have a head office in London, and branches in Istanbul, Fethiye, Bodrum and other regions in Turkey. We work with overseas buyers to find their dream home by offering a comprehensive service from start to finish. So contact us to speak with an agent if you want to buy a home in the Beyoglu area of Istanbul, Turkey.

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