Monday, April 4, 2011

Touring Turkey - Beyoglu, Istanbul

I'm not sure why, but I am going to start at the end of our trip and talk a little about the Beyoglu section of Istanbul. Most travelers seeking to see Istanbul's major historic sights like the Blue Mosque (that was the first pic in my last post) and the Hagia Sophia/Aya Sofya and Topkapi Palace, usually start out in Sultanhamet, the older historic center of the city named for Sultan Ahmed (or Ahmet) I, an Ottoman sultan who spearheaded the construction of the Blue Mosque. You can pretty much spend all of your time in Sultanhamet and get to see the gist of Istanbul's sights.

Beyoglu is a totally different vibe altogether. If you make your way across the Galata Bridge passing over the little inlet that is the Golden Horn, you'll come to another part of the city that really has its own charm. While there are still some places of interest to see in Beyoglu, it's really an area where Turks come to eat, drink, shop and just otherwise chill out.

Husband J and I strolled along Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), Beyoglu's major pedestrian artery. In the middle of the day on a Friday, these streets were packed. Later that night you could barely move.

Street tram on Istiklal Caddesi, Beyoglu's main thoroughfare

Istiklal Caddesi packed with people in the middle of the day

If anything I liked the shopping. I told Husband J that I could probably survive here in Istanbul because they had some of my shopping favorites. :)

If I buy makeup, it's usually MAC.

What I also liked about Istiklal Caddesi was peering into the little alleyways right off of the main thoroughfare. Often they were filled with cafes, restaurants, shops or further pathways containing homes. If we had more time, I think we would have explored as many of them as we could. Actually if you don't watch out, you can get lost (like we did). :)

If you walk down Istiklal Caddesi towards the Golden Horn, you'll eventually get to the Karakoy neighborhood. You'll see the Galata Tower. It's hard to miss. Standing nine stories tall, it was built by the Genoan merchants who had held a small colony on the banks of the Golden Horn as a post for trading with Byzantine Istanbul. It's also one of the best places to get a panoramic view of the city. If you have the time, there is a restaurant on the top floor with a performance almost nightly.

For some reason, this is the best shot I have of Galata Tower (head scratch).

View from Galata Tower


We stumbled onto San Antonio di Padova Church. At this point we were used to seeing churches that had been converted to mosques, but this is still a working Catholic church. There are approximately 120,000 Christians in Turkey total.

San Antonio Church interior

At the end of Istiklal Caddesi is Taksim Square. Kinda like Istanbul's Time Square, it's where people and transportation converge as well as a major spot for political demonstrations.

The centerpiece and main attraction of the square is the Cumhuriyet Aniti (the Monument of the Republic). The front part of the monument shows Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as other important leaders who aided him.

Some closeups of the statue:

We liked our afternoon in Beyoglu and wished we'd had more time to just chill and people watch. That's for the next trip. :)


BigAppleNosh said...

That church is beautiful!

lavenderpug said...

wow so many great things to see--i agree with bigapple, that church is awesome. and you did such a great job taking pictures!


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