Beyoglu: A Soho in the Heart of Istanbul
In our October cover story, Pico Iyer writes of the wonders of Istanbul, the “City of the Future.” Writer Emilie Harting just returned from a visit herself, and delves deeper into the neighborhood of Beyoglu.
“Stay in Beyoglu,” advised my Turkish friend Haldun when I was planning a trip to Istanbul, his hometown. The historic district quiets down at night. In Beyoglu you’ll be in the midst of restaurants, cafes, and shops.”
Haldun’s advice was perfect. For ten days we stayed in Beyoglu, which is in the center of the European side of the city, north of the Golden Horn, the waterway that separates the “old” from the “new” parts of European Istanbul (see a clickable map of the city here). Quickly, we learned that the above ground metro goes back and forth to the “Old City,” where top sites like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Hippodrome, and the Grand Bazaar are clustered together. But with all that was happening in the neighborhood, we found plenty of time to explore.
In the late 1800s, Beyoglu was the city’s fashionable embassy
neighborhood. It then fell into a decline, and is now emerging as
Istanbul’s Soho (the New York version, that is). The wide pedestrian street Istiklal Caddesi runs southwest to Tune and is best explored by walking, entering
churchyards, and noting the consulates with their spacious fenced-in
grounds; it’s also fun to take
the historic tram that runs up and down the street’s center. Chain stores are gradually moving in along the street, so many of the
independent artisans, cutting-edge design shops, restaurants,
and cafes are moving south. Some of the best fish restaurants are just
north in a warren of alleys
branching off to the northwest across from the Swedish Consulate. The
fish market (Read more...)