Beyoglu, having 4500 years of history, is one of the world’s most important residential areas. It has been a stage for civilisations and cultures.
Beyoglu has been a living and residential centre for as long as 2600 years, and it preserves ancient traces from Genoese, Byzantium, Arab and Ottoman periods, demonstrating a parade of complementary civilisations. Beyoglu, from the past to the present, has been a centre for trading and for religious, political, cultural, artistic and intellectual activities. Beyoglu is a multilingual and multicultural city and its intellectual minds represent modern Turkey.
During the 19th century, Beyoglu was home to many European traders, and it housed many embassies, especially along the Grande Rue de Pera, today Istiklal Avenue. The city has always been very international. The Pera Palace Hotel has welcomed at times important international guests. Beyoglu has always valued culture, tourism and entertainment. The premieres of many operas and ballets have been played in this part of Istanbul, and known intellectuals like Liszt, the father of Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Garibaldi have lived in this area.
A city of trade and innovators, Beyoglu was one of the first parts of Istanbul to get telephone lines, electricity, trams, municipal government and even an underground railway, the Tünel, inaugurated in 1875 as the world’s second subway line – after London’s Underground. The line connects Pera to the port of Galata and the nearby business and banking district of Karaköy, where the Bankalar Caddesi-Banks Street, the financial centre of the Ottoman Empire is located.
Culture has its roots in the late Ottoman period in Beyoglu, and the city is still today one of the most important cultural, artistic, touristic and historical centres of Istanbul. It boasts historical monuments, cultural centres, art galleries, and a rich gastronomic tradition. Some famous shops on the street of Istiklal – visited by 1 million people every day – like ‘Inci’ predate the founding of the republic and have kept their outstanding quality. Visitors enjoy their chocolate mousse and profiteroles.
The main street of Beyoglu, Istiklal Caddesi, from Taksim Square, is a pedestrian street where everything is concentrated, from General Consulates, to shops, bookshops, art galleries and much more. The street is recognisable by its 19th century metropolitan character and is lined with very unique Neoclassical and Art Nouveau buildings. The charming tram which runs on Istiklal Avenue, between Taksim Square and Tünel was re-installed in the early 1990s with the aim of reviving the historic atmosphere of the district.
Beyoglu is a very vibrant cultural centre, where the many cultural creative industries are located. For example, the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Pera Museum, Koç Museum, Doğançay Museum, TURVAK Cinema Museum, SALT Art Gallery, Arter Gallery and many other culture and artistic entities and research centres.