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Beyoglu is a district located on the European side of Istanbul, separated from the old city (historic peninsula of Constantinople) by the Golden Horn. It was known as Pera in the Middle Ages, and this name remained in common use until the early 20th century and the establishment of the Turkish Republic.

The district encompasses other neighborhoods located north of the Golden Horn, including Galata (the medieval Genoese citadel from which Beyoglu itself originated), Karakoy, Cihangir, Sishane, Tepebasi, Tarlabasi, Dolapdere and Kasimpasa, and is connected to the old city center across the Golden Horn through the Galata Bridge and Unkapani Bridge. Beyoglu is the most active art, entertainment and night life centre of Istanbul.

Modern day Beyoglu is a major entertainment and shopping district for people from all sorts of ages and backgrounds in Istanbul. The main thoroughfare is the historical and attractive Istiklâl Caddesi, running into the neighbourhood from Taksim Square, a pedestrianised solid mile of shops, cafés, patisseries, restaurants, pubs, winehouses and clubs, as well as some of the city's best bookshops, theatres, cinemas and art galleries. Much of Istiklâl has a 19th century metropolitan character, and the avenue is lined with elegant Neoclassical and Art Nouveau buildings. A large restoration movement has been initiated since the 1990s, and many of these historic buildings have been repaired and restored, even though some of them are still in various states of decay. The nostalgic tram which runs on Istiklal Avenue, between Taksim Square and Tunel, was also re-installed in the early 1990s with the aim of reviving the historic atmosphere of the district.

Most of the Istanbul's historic pubs and winehouses are located in the areas around Istiklal Avenue in Beyoglu. The 19th century Cicek Pasaji(literally Flower Passage in Turkish, or Cité de Péra in French, opened in 1876) on Istiklal Avenue can be described as a miniature version of the famous Galleria in Milan, Italy, and has rows of historic pubs, winehouses and restaurants. The site of Cicek Pasaji was originally occupied by the Naum Theatre, which was burned during the great fire of Pera in 1870. The theatre was frequently visited by Sultans Abdulaziz and Abdulhamid II, and hosted Giuseppe Verdi's play Il Trovatore before the opera houses of Paris. After the fire of 1870, the theatre was purchased by the local Greek banker Hristaki Zografos Efendi, and Italian architect Zanno designed the current building, which was called Cité de Péra or Hristaki Pasaji in its early years. Yorgo'nun Meyhanesi (Yorgo's Winehouse) was the first winehouse to be opened in the passage. In 1908 the Ottoman Grand Vizier Sait Pasa purchased the building, and it became known as the Sait Pasa Passage. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, many impoverished noble Russian women, including a Baroness, sold flowers here. By the 1940s the building was mostly occupied by flower shops, hence the present Turkish name Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage). Following the restoration of the building in 1988, it was reopened as a galleria of pubs and restaurants.

Pano, established by Panayot Papadopoulos in 1898, and the neighbouring Viktor Levi, established in 1914, are among the oldest winehouses in the city and are located on Kalyoncu Kulluk Street near the British Consulate and Galatasaray Square. Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi (literally Republic Winehouse), called this way since the early 1930s but originally established in the early 1890s, is another popular historic winehouse and is located in the nearby Sahne Street, along with the Hazzopulo Winehouse, established in 1871, inside the Hazzopulo Pasaji which connects Sahne Street and Mesrutiyet Avenue. The famous Nevizade Street, which has rows of historic pubs next to each other, is also in this area. Other historic pubs are found in the areas around Tunel Pasaji and the nearby Asmalimescit Street. Some historic neighbourhoods around 59 Istiklal Avenue] have recently been recreated, such as Cezayir Street near Galatasaray Lisesi,at Galatasaray Square which became known as La Rue Francaise and has rows of francophone pubs, cafés and restaurants playing live French music. Artiste Terasse (Artist Teras) on Cezayir Street is a popular restaurant-bar which offers panoramic views of the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque and Galata Tower.

Throughout Beyoglu, there are many night clubs for all kinds of tastes. Babylon and Nu Pera are among the most popular European style night clubs and restaurants in the district, while Kemanci plays rock, hard rock and heavy metal. Maksim plays Oriental music, while Andon is a place where one can eat, drink and dance to the traditional Turkish music called fasil. There are also classy restaurants on the top of historic buildings with a magnificent view of Istanbul, such as 360. The Ottoman era Rejans is a historic Russian restaurant. Asmalimescit Street has rows of traditional Turkish restaurants and Ocakbasi (grill) houses, while the streets around the historic Balikpazari (Fish Market) is full of eateries offering seafood like fried mussels and calamari along with beer or raki, or the traditional kokorec. Beyoglu also has many elegant pasaj (passages) from the 19th century, most of which have historic and classy chocolateries and patisseries, such the Markiz Pastanesi, along with many shops lining their alleys. There is also a wide range of fast-food restaurants in the district, of international chains such as McDonald's, Burger King, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, etc; as well as local Turkish chains, such as Simit Sarayi which serves simit (sesame-covered, ring-shaped pretzel bread) along with cheese and tea, or individual eateries such as doner kebab houses.
Beyoglu is just as vibrant in daytime as it is at night. Apart from the hundreds of shops lining the streets and avenues of the district, there is also a substantial business community. Odakule, a 1970s highrise building (the first "structural expressionism" style building in Turkey) is the headquarters of Istanbul Sanayi Odasi (ISO) (Istanbul Chamber of Industry) and is located between Istiklal Avenue and Tepebasi, next to the Pera Museum. Most of the upper floors of the buildings in Beyoglu are office space, and small workshops are found on the side streets.

Istanbul Modern, located near Karakoy Port on the Bosphorus with a magnificent view of the Seraglio Point, resembles Tate Modern in many ways and frequently hosts the exhibitions of renowned Turkish and foreign artists.

Pera Museum exhibits some of the most interesting works of art from the late Ottoman period, such as the famous Kaplumbaga Terbiyecisi (Turtle Trainer) of Osman Hamdi Bey. Apart from its permanent collection, the museum also hosts visiting exhibitions, which included the works of world-famous artists like Rembrandt.
Dogancay Museum, Turkey's first contemporary art museum dedicated to the works of a single artist, officially opened its doors to the public in 2004. While the museum almost exclusively displays the works of its founder Burhan Dogancay, one of Turkey's foremost contemporary artists, one floor has been set aside for the works of the artist's father, Adil Dogancay.

Hotel Pera Palace, built in 1892 for hosting the passengers of the Orient Express, is another renowned structure in the district. Agatha Christie wrote her most famous novel, Murder on the Orient Express, in this hotel, and her room is still conserved as a museum.

Beyoglu also has many historical Tekkes and Turbes, and several Sufi orders such as the Cihangiri (pronounced Jihangiri) order were founded here.

S. Antonio di Padova on Istiklal Avenue, the largest Catholic church in Istanbul, and Neve Shalom Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Istanbul, are also in Beyoglu. There are numerous other Catholic and Orthodox churches in the area.


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