One of Istanbul's favorite antique-hunting areas is the district called Çukurcuma (choo-KOOR-joo-mah) in Beyoğlu.
(The neighborhood's name is officially Firuzağa Mahallesi, but everyone knows it as Çukurcuma when it comes to antiques.)
Here's a plan and a map: from İstiklal Caddesi just northeast of Galatasaray Square, walk southeast along Turnacıbaşı Caddesi past several Greek schools. The street turns left in front of the Galatasaray HamamıTurkish bath and the Greek Consulate-General, then comes to Faik Paşa Caddesi on the right.
There are a dozen funky antique shops within 100 meters of this intersection, as well as the Turistik Ağa Hamamı (Turkish Bath).
Browse in the shops around this intersection, then turn right (southwest) down Faik Paşa Caddesi, pass more antique shops, and turn left at the first street, a short one leading to the Çukurcuma Camii (officially the Muhyiddin Molla Fenari Camii [mosque]). Lots more antique shops here.
Turn right onto Çukurcuma Caddesi keeping the little mosque on your left, and proceed downhill through the mother lode of antique shops in the district. Near the bottom of the slope you'll see Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence(Masumiyet Müzesi), established by the author to exhibit artifacts from the scenes in his novel of the same name.
The museum's website states:
From the very beginnings of the project, since the 1990s, Pamuk has conceived of novel and museum together. ... The museum presents what the novel’s characters used, wore, heard, saw, collected and dreamed of, all meticulously arranged in boxes and display cabinets.
It's appropriate that a museum filled with hundreds of old objects from the Istanbul of the 1950s to 2000s is here in Çukurcuma, where Pamuk must have spent months browsing in the antique shops, looking for mementoes of mid-20th-century Istanbul while he was writing his novel.
From the Museum of Innocence, continue to walk down the hill on Çukurcuma Caddesi to Yeni Çarşı/Boğazkesen Caddesi. Turn right on ths street and uphill to the next street on the right, Bostancıbaşı Caddesi. Walking up this street, past yet more antique shops, brings you back to Faik Paşa Caddesi. Turn right when you reach Turnacıbaşı Caddesi and you'll soon be at the Firuzağa Camii (mosque) on Sıraselviler Caddesiin the center of the bohemian/expat neighborhood of Cihangir.
If you're interested in "living in Istanbul" more than sightseeing, Cihangir is among the coolest places to stay. Orhan Pamuk has an apartment here. I stay here at least a few days on each of my visits to Istanbul. More...
Walk northeast uphill on Sıraselviler Caddesi to reach Taksim Square.
—by Tom Brosnahan