Istanbul has a history of 2700 years. It is necessary to visit certain districts in order to get to know Istanbul, which carries the traces of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman heritage. In order to grasp the history of Istanbul, I recommend you to join the Sultanahmet, Fener Balat and Beyoglu walking tour respectively.
The first of these, Sultanahmet walking tour, covers the most important historical monuments of Istanbul. The second is the Fener Balat walking tour, which introduces the life of non-Muslims in Ottoman Istanbul. The third is the Beyoglu walking tour, which covers Karakoy, Galata, Istiklal Street and Taksim Square.
In this article, I will introduce you to the places to visit in Karakoy and Galata, the port of Constantinople during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. After Galata Tower, the tour route continues through Istiklal Street in the direction of Taksim Square.
On this tour, you can learn about Roman & Byzantine history and see buildings that reflect the modernization of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. The Beyoglu walking tour covers the area known as Istanbul New Town.
On the Beyoglu walking tour, you can see the Westernization process of the Ottoman Empire in the 1800s. Beyoglu’s development accelerated when the Ottoman sultan left the traditional Topkapi Palace in 1856 and moved to Dolmabahce Palace on the shores of the Bosphorus.
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Walking Tour of Beyoglu, Istanbul
Beyoglu walking tour is an activity that takes an average of 3 to 4 hours. The tour, which includes several indoor visits, usually consists of walking outdoors and taking pictures.
During the walk, you will also have the chance to observe the architectural change Istanbul has gone through over the centuries. The tour starts from a mosque built in the 16th century and continues with the 19th century Baroque, Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau buildings.
The Beyoglu walking tour, which covers Tophane, Karakoy, Galata, Istiklal Street and Taksim, consists of 14 titles. Now I will briefly introduce you the places to visit on this tour.
1. Tophane Neighborhood
Tophane neighborhood is the location of Galataport, the cruise port of Istanbul. Tophane, a very central place, takes its name from an artillery factory.
Beyoglu walking tour starts in front of Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque in Tophane Square. The mosque is right next to Tophane Tram Stop. Tram is the most used public transportation vehicle in the touristic areas of Istanbul.
2. Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque
Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque and the adjacent historical fountain are iconic structures of Tophane. Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque is a building that represents the classical period architecture of the Ottoman Empire.
The mosque, built by Mimar Sinan, the most famous architect of the Ottoman Empire, is a hidden gem. Most of the tourists coming to Istanbul only see the Blue Mosque. However, these small mosques, which are quite interesting architecturally, are often overlooked.
Next to the mosque, there is a historical bath called Kilic Ali Pasha Hammam and is considered among the best Turkish baths in Istanbul.
3. Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate
The Turkish Ordodoks Patriarchate is a religious institution with a century-old history. During the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, there were many Orthodox Turks living in Anatolia.
After the foundation of the Republic, Turkish Christians, who did not want to be subordinate to the Fener Orthodox Patriarchate, established their own patriarchate.
Karakoy was the harbor district of Istanbul during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. It was a hub port where goods from the Silk Road were exported to Europe.
Nowadays, Karakoy neighborhood is one of the fastest growing places in Istanbul. Decorated with boutique hotels, cafes and restaurants, Karakoy is also home to Istanbul Cruise Port.
During the Beyoglu walking tour, we walk in the colorful streets between Tophane Square and Karakoy and take photos.
5. Banks Street
Banks Street (Bankalar Caddesi) reflects the change Istanbul went through in the last period of the Ottoman Empire. Istanbul had become a financial center with the opening of embassy buildings and banks.
The increase in trade during this period also showed itself in architecture. Businessmen from Istanbul had traded with Europeans and equipped the city with new buildings.
Greeks and Armenians of Istanbul, who got rich in the 19th century, equipped the city with business centers built with European architecture.
The most striking of these buildings can be seen on Banks Street and its surroundings. As a result of this enrichment, Beyoglu district was equipped with shopping passages, restaurants and cafes.
6. Kamondo Stairs
The Kamondo family was a wealthy community that lived in Istanbul in the 19th century. They built this aesthetic staircase in their neighborhood. You may come across many Instagrammable places like Kamondo Stairs during the Beyoglu walking tour.
7. Galata Neighborhood
Galata Tower and the streets surrounding it are among the most beautiful tourist attractions in Istanbul. There are wonderful cafes, restaurants, bars and shopping streets around Galata Tower.
In this blog, I previously shared an article called Things to do in Galata. If you wish, you can look at the details from there.
8. Neve Shalom Synagogue
Neve Shalom Synagogue is the most important place of worship for Jews in Istanbul. Unfortunately, synagogues in Istanbul cannot be visited without special permission. For this reason, we tell the history of this synagogue from outside.
9. Mesrutiyet Street
Mesrutiyet Street still preserves the 19th century appearance of Beyoglu. This was the most luxurious district of the city in the 1800s and was known as Pera. Tourists coming from Europe by Orient Express used to stay in famous hotels of the district such as Pera Palace.
10. Church of St. Anthony of Padua
Church of St. Anthony of Padua is the most important Catholic church in Istanbul. The history of the church, which was rebuilt in the 19th century, is much older.
St. Anthony Church is one of the best places to photograph in Istanbul. This church, which resembles Italy with its architecture, can be a great background object for your Instagram photos.
11. Istiklal Street
Istiklal Street is the most popular walking and shopping street in Istanbul. The tram wandering on Istiklal allows you to take nostalgic shots. Istiklal Avenue and the streets surrounding it provide great opportunities to experience the food culture in Istanbul. In addition, the heart of nightlife in Istanbul beats here.
12. Beyoglu Fish Market
Beyoglu Fish Market is a great place to experience street food in Istanbul. At the same time, you will experience the street market where locals shop for vegetables and fruits. One of the best Turkish Delight shops in Istanbul is also located here.
Right next to Beyoglu Fish Market, there is a covered street called Cicek Pasaji. Here, there are the most beautiful taverns and fish restaurants in Istanbul.
13. Church of the Three Altars
Church of the Three Altars is Beyoglu’s most important Armenian church. During the Ottoman period, Beyoglu was a popular settlement for non-Muslims. Most of the Greek, Armenian and Jewish citizens of Ottoman Istanbul lived here. This church, which is adjacent to Beyoglu Fish Market, dates from those times.
14. Taksim Square
Taksim Square is literally the heart of Istanbul. Most of the tourists coming to Istanbul stay in Taksim Square and its neighboring streets. Surrounded by many tourist attractions, Taksim Square is the last stop on the Beyoglu walking tour.
Beyoglu tour is one of the guided walking tours I recommend in Istanbul. However, there are other tours that may interest you. You can visit the private tours category to see the other options.
Beyoglu Walking Tour by Serhat Engul