Taksim / Beyoğlu

Beyoğlu is one of the districts of Istanbul in European side. It is a 8.76 km2 area surrounded by Sişli, Beşiktaş and Kağıthane districts in the north and Golden Horn and Bosphorus in other directions. The district is composed of 45 quarters and has no rural settlements.Beyoğlu is in European side of Istanbul. It is one of the first settlements of Istanbul. It is also known as “Pera” which means “the other side”. Galata which was within the borders of Beyoğlu in the history was an area inhabited by Genoese in Byzantine times. When the foreigners coming from Galata and Christians settled in Istiklal Street known as “Grand Rue de Pera” by that time around the embassies it became a settlement with a European look. French and Venice embassies and Capuchins settled around them formed the core of the settlement. Thus a different society started to develop in 17th century in Istanbul.In 1860-1864 Aşıklar and Ayazpaşa cemeteries were removed, Galata ramparts were demolished, new streets and avenues were built and construction of wooden buildings was banned in order to prevent the fires. The Tunnel that connects Galatasaray to Beyoğlu and one of the first examples of underground rail transport system in the world was constructed in the second half of 19th century, 1873, in Beyoğlu. Electric trams were put into service between Beyoğlu and Şişli in 1913. After the adoption of the Republic following the Ottoman period, Beyoğlu settlement extended from Teşvikiye and Maçka to Beşiktaş, beyond Şişli, Golden Horn and Bosphorus slopes. The residences have slowly transformed to workplaces upon this development. The main street called Cadde-i Kebir in Ottoman period became to known as Istiklal Street after the Republic developed with new stores, banks, cafés, theatres, cinemas, patisseries and entertainment venues and the extensive settlement upon this development extended from Halaskargazi Avenue to Şişli.

History of Beyoğlu name
There are several rumors about the origin of Beyoğlu name. According to one of them, Beyoğlu name originates from the acceptance of Islam by Alexios Komnenos, one of the Pontus princes in the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror and his settlement in this area. According to another rumor it originates from Luigi Giritti, the son of Venice, the Venetian Baylo during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, not the Pontus Prince.  This man called by Turks “Bey Oğlu” (literally Son of Governor) was born when the Baylo got married to a Greek woman.  He lived in a mansion close to Taksim. Another rumor states that this area was known as Beyoğlu because the Venetian Baylo residing here was called Beyoğlu in the correspondences during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.  After it was removed from official correspondences in 1925 Pera name started to be used less day by day whereas Beyoğlu name became popular and started to refer to the area. Pera became the later settlement area of Istanbul in Byzantine period.

Beyoğlu is the most characteristic district of Istanbul and have a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Istiklal Street and surrounding streets may be regarded as the center of not only Beyoğlu but also Istanbul. This is an area that represents a different life and appearance than the rest of Turkey in general in terms of clothing, life style and buildings. Its architecture has always been in a Western style. There are more churches and synagogues in Beyoğlu and neighborhood than the rest of Istanbul. Some of the important areas in the area are as follows:

Beyoğlu is the apple of eye in Istanbul.

It is maybe the only place that more than 10 million Istanbulites cannot help visiting every now and then by making excuses. It is not possible for those coming from the suburban areas not to visit with Beyoğlu when they come to Istanbul.  There are definitely one or two places of Beyoğlu which are important for everybody from Taksim Square to Tunnel Square, from upper parts to lower parts, from Tarlabaşı to Kasımpaşa, from Çukurcuma to Tophane, from Banks Street to Galata.  It is the center of country’s modernization for 150 years. It draws domestic and foreigner visitors from every generation to itself like a magnet with its hotels, patisseries, cafés, restaurants, public soup-kitchens. It created a tolerance atmosphere to allow several faiths to coexist together thanks to its mosques, churches and synagogues.  It is known as all arteries of culture and art originate from Beyoğlu from past to present. It calls over cinema, theatre, opera, art gallery, bookshop, festival and biennial lovers. Beyoğlu renews itself. As it managed to be reborn from the ashes of so many fires like a phoenix now the governors and citizens are moving forward together to gain a modern look. Beyoğlu 1857-2007 is an album prepared on the basis that those who know their past well would have a better future.  It is a journal for Beyoğlu lovers.

Ahmet Misbah Demircan
Beyoğlu Mayor

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