İstiklal Caddesi, Beyoğlu-Istanbul

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La Grand’ Rue

On my first trip to Turkey in 1967, I arrived in Istanbul to find İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), the main shopping street in Beyoğlu, a roaring traffic speedway, the cars and trucks depositing their pall of gritty exhaust on the century-old buildings.

Now it’s a pedestrian mall, and many of the buildings have been cleaned and renovated. The former Grand’ Rue de Péra is now Istanbul’s favorite strolling-and-window-shopping thoroughfare.

Along it are sights such as the large Catholic Church of St Antoine (center of picture) and the huge former embassies (now consulates-general) of FranceHollandRussia and Sweden. Off the street down narrow passageways are surprises such as the Greek Orthodox Church of Panaya İsodyon and the Ashkenazi Synagogue, all still in operation.

İstiklal (eess-teek-LAL) is the place to come for a whiff of 19th-century Ottoman nostalgia.

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—by Tom Brosnahan


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