Beyoğlu (BEY-oh-loo) is the district on the north bank of the Golden Horn, from Karaköy (Galata) and the Galata Bridge to Taksim Square.
In the 1800s this was the newer, more European section of Istanbul (Constantinople). Embassies were built here, foreign merchants lived and worked here, and they shopped at the posh boutiques along the Grande Rue de Péra, now called İstiklal Caddesi.
This was also one of the neighborhoods favored by the sultan's Jewish subjects and still has a few beautiful small synagogues.
Galatasaray Square, midway along İstiklal Caddesi, is where the first European-style lycée (high school) was built by the Ottoman Sultan during the 19th century. Also here is the famed Çiçek Pasajı(Flower Passage) dining and taverna district.
At the southern end of İstiklal Caddesi near Tünel Square is a Whirling Dervish hall in which the Mevlevi dervishes still whirl. More...
Today Beyoğlu is enjoying a cultural and architectural revival. The huge embassies are now consulates, the shops are posh again, and İstiklal Caddesi (the Grande Rue) is a popular pedestrian mall filled with strollers day and night.
The pedestrian avenue and its side streets boast lots of nightlife: chic cafés, bistros, restaurants and music clubs.
The Pera Museum (Pera Müzesi) in Beyoğlu's Tepebaşı district near the grand old Pera Palace Hotel, is a real gem, and admission is free of charge.
On the Bosphorus shore at Tophane, on the edge of Beyoğlu, is the Istanbul Modern Art Museum. and near it the historic Tophane-i Amire (Ottoman Imperial Arsenal), which is now the outstanding Tophane-i Amire Culture & Arts Center of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.
—by Tom Brosnahan