ISTANBUL — BeyoĞlu

This neighbourhood is known as both Pera and Beyoğlu and is found on the Galata Hill which is north of the Golden Horn. Much of the area dates from the 19th century and is often referred to as ‘New Town’. It was once a very fashionable area and home to a lot of Istanbul’s foreign population of Greeks, Jews and Armenians. People then moved further up the Bosphorus and the area became rundown and crime-ridden. In more recent times it has been rediscovered and renovated. The area is dominated by the Galata Tower and Tünel Square. An underground funicular railway climbs the hill between the bottom station at Tersane Caddesi and the top station of Tünel. The top stop is found at the beginning of İstiklâl Caddesi which is Istanbul’s main pedestrian street. You can catch an old-fashioned tram along the length of this street or it is a pleasant place to stroll down with its many shops and resturants. Just north of the docks is a popular meeting place with its many shops and cafes.

The sights found here are:
Pera Palas Hotel
Pera Museum
Mevlevi Lodge
Galata Tower
Nusretiye Mosque
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Çukurcuma
Taksim

Pera Palas Hotel

Pera Palas Hotel
This famous hotel opened in 1892 to cater for travellers on the Orient Express. The hotel is found in the Tepebaşi neighbourhood of Pera which was once known as ‘Little Europe’ and is regarded as the ‘oldest European hotel of Turkey’. The hotel has undergone extensive renovation in more recent times but is still evokes a bygone era. Many famous people have stayed here including royalty, actors and politicians. If you are interested you can visit on request a room where the crime writer, Agatha Christie stayed.
For information about Pera Palas Hotel visit the website at: http://www.perapalace.com/en-EN/history/64.aspx

Traveller's Tip

A special treat is to visit the Kubbeli Saloon which is a tea room at the hotel. The room itself is magnificent with its parquet floor, marble columns and the glass-domed ceiling. Afternoon tea is served here every day between 3pm and 6pm. It is a tradition with the Istanbul elite and your serving of cakes, sandwiches and tea is accompanied by music on the grand piano.

Pera Museum
This former hotel was opened as a museum in 2005 and is close to the Pera Palace Hotel. The facade of the original Hotel Bristol has been kept but the museum itself is very modern and contains an interesting permanent collection of art works as well as changing exhibits. There is a wonderful mixture of paintings, pottery, tiles, as well as brass, copper and steel weights and measures. The Oriental paintings on the third floor are magnificent.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://en.peramuzesi.org.tr

Mevlevi Lodge

Mevlevi Lodge
This lodge belonged to the most famous Sufi sect known as the Whirling Dervishes who were disciples of the mystical poet and Sufti master, Celaleddin Rumi. He was known as ‘Mevlâna’ (Our Leader). It is now a museum devoted to Ottoman literary works, inscriptions and calligraphy. A highlight of the lodge is the magnificent octaganol wooden dance floor where a ritual dance was performed on the last Sunday of the month. The hall is found on Galipdede Caddesi just south of Tünel Square. It is presently closed but will be opened at the end of 2012.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.rumimevlevi.com/en/index.php

Galata Tower

Galata Tower
This tower dominates the skyline above the Golden Horn. It is 60 metres high and has a conical tower on top. Its origins date from the 6th century when it was used to monitor shipping. It was used as a prison and naval depot in the 15th century and after the 18th century it was a fire watchtower. There is a wonderful view over the city from the outdoor balcony on the top floor which is reached by a lift. The upper floors also contain a restaurant and nightclub. You can reach the tower by walking uphill from the Galata Bridge but a less steep climb is walking down the hill from Istiklal Caddesi.
For information about the Galata Tower including opening times and costs visit the website at: http://www.galatatower.net/english

Traveller's Tip

For a really special view arrive at the tower close to sunset. The view at this time of day is just magical.
Nusretiye Mosque

Nusretiye Mosque
This mosque was built between 1823 and 1826 by Sultan Mahmud 11 in a Baroque style which makes it rather unique in Istanbul. It is made of stone and marble with two minarets with twin galleries. It is very ornate and is more like a palace than a mosque. There is a beautiful marble panel of calligraphy inside the mosque and the dome has gold leaf engraving which is striking.

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
This museum is found in a former dock warehouse in Tophane, about a kilometre north from the Galata Tower. You can catch a tram going towards Kabataş and get out at the Tophane stop. It is found just past the Tophane mosque. This museum opened in 2004 and it houses both permanent and temporary exhibitions of 20th century art to the present day. The museum was founded by the Ecaacibaşi family and many of the museum’s works of art are from their collection. Included in the collection are abstracts, landscapes, watercolours and a sculpture garden. Make sure you don’t miss the stunning black and white photography exhibition.
For information about the museum visit the website at: http://www.istanbulmodern.org

Cukurcuma Caddesi

Çukurcuma
Çukurcuma consists of four steep winding streets that intersect with an avenue that runs parallel to Istiklal starting from Siraselviler and is centred around Çukurcuma Caddesi. This area could be considered Istanbul’s bohemian quarter with its narrow streets, historic buildings, antique dealers, fashion designers, design artists and art galleries. On Faik Paşha Avenue you will find some beautiful and well-preserved stone buildings in Italian architectural style which were once the homes of the wealthy in the late 1800s. The more modest buildings found on the other side of the road were where their servants lived.

Taksim

Taksim
Taksim Square is the centre of modern Istanbul. This part of Istanbul came into being in the late 1800s near a taksim or branching point in the city’s water distribution system. Evidence of this can be found at the beginning of Istiklal Caddesi where the original stone reservoir, built in 1732 can still be found. At the southern end of the square is the Independence Monument which commemorates the Turkish Republic’s founder, Kemal Atatürk. Near the square you will find some of the best luxury hotels in Istanbul. From Taksim Square, you can walk all the way down Istiklal Caddesi to Tünel Square in a half hour or less or you can ride the Nostalgic Tram from the stop in Taksim Square.