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Beyoglu & Around

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The suburb of Beyoglu & Around rises from the shoreline north of the Galata Bridge, and incorporates both Taksim Sq and the grand boulevard, İstiklal Caddesi. By the mid-19th century it was known as Pera, the ‘European’ quarter of town, home to diplomats and traders, and buzzing with the latest European fashions, European-style patisseries, restaurants, boutiques and embassies all built following the European architectural style of the day. Beyoglu & Around had telephones, electric light and the one of the first electric tramways in the world, the Tünel.

 However all this changed in the decades after the Republic when the embassies moved to the country’s new capital, Ankara, the glamorous shops and restaurants closed, the grand buildings crumbled, and Beyoğlu took on a decidedly sleazy air. Fortunately the ‘90s brought about a rebirth. Beyoğlu is once again the heart of modern İstanbul, ground-zero for galleries, cafés and boutiques, with hip new restaurants opening almost nightly, and more bars then a bar-hopper could hope to prop at in a lifetime. Beyoğlu is a showcase of cosmopolitan Turkey at its best – miss Beyoğlu and you haven’t seen İstanbul.

The best way to experience Beyoğlu is to spend an afternoon or day exploring by foot. You can walk across the Galata Bridge from Eminönü and up through Galata, the city’s historic Genoese neighbourhood, and along heaving İstiklal Caddesi to Taksim Sq (from where you can catch the T4 bus back to Sultanahmet if you wish). All up it’s a walk of two to three hours allowing for breaks along the way.

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