of the Virgin Mary,
Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate,
At the northern end of
Bridge across Istanbul's
Horn from Eminönü at the southern end) lies the district called Karaköy (Galata; map).
It's among the city's oldest and most
historic districts, the center of Istanbul's maritime trade and commerce since it was settled by the Genoese in Byzantine times. Shipping offices, ships' chandlers, harbormaster's and customs offices, commercial banks and warehouses lined its shore and crowded its narrow maze of streets.
Today Karaköy is in transition from Istanbul's maritime entrepôt to one of cultural, touristic and commercial center.
For you, it's
an important transportation point, similar to Eminönü, but also offering fine boutique hotels, restaurants, cafés, historic sites, and the ciy's principal international cruise
Although you'll probably get to know Karaköy as
a place to board a ferry, ship, tram or
the Tünel (underground
train to Tünel Square and İstiklal
Caddesi), it's also a good
place to buy hardware, insurance, baklava,
and fish, of
all things. (The Karaköy Fish Market is one good place to find cheap fish meals in Istanbul.)
What to See & Do
Wander Karaköy's maze of little streets north and east of the square, and among the ships' chandlers, machine equipemt sellers and commercial banks and offices you may come upon Greek Orthodox and Armenian schools and churches, not to mention the Church of the Virgin
Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate (Bağımsız
Türk Ortodoks Patrikhanesi)(map), a
dissident group that broke away from
the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate in Fener in 1922.
On the southeast side of the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque (1580) near the Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı, Kılıç Ali Paşa Mesciti Sokak (map) is lined with tiny cafés and tea shops offering innovative and authentic caffeinated brews to crowds of art students from nearby Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Üniversitesi).
Just a block or two to the east is the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, though redevelopment of the area may soon force the museum to move to another location.
On the west side of the square by the TurYol ferry docks is the Karaköy fish market and a dozen tiny fresh-fish eateries and tea houses. Behind them is the best place in Istanbul to buy plumbing fixtures and parts, ships' chains and anchors, and all manner of other useful goods.
Cruise Ship Docks
ships used to moor here, but a 1.2-km stretch of the shoreline is being redeveloped. Old warehouses and decrepit buildings are being replaced, historic buildings restored, and new facilities installed to better serve Istanbul's greatly increased cruise ship traffic. Called Galataport, the project will change the face of Karaköy.
Artist's rendering of Galataport (Tabanlıoğlu Architects)
For the time being, cruise ship moorings have been moved farther up the Bosphorus shore.
Ferries depart Karaköy for
shore of the Bosphorus (map),
going to both Haydarpaşa
from the dock east of the Galata
boats depart from west of the bridge
Horn side; map).
A Bit of History
Around the year 1000, the emperor
of Byzantium granted
to the merchants of Genoa the
right to settle and do business on
the northern shore of the
his capital, Constantinople.
rapidly, and the Genoese built sturdy
fortifications to protect
themselves and their warehouses. Fragments
of the Genoese walls are still visible,
but most visible of all is the highest
and strongest point in the walls, the
Up the Hill to Galata Tower
the steep hillside toward Galata
Tower along the street named
Yüksek Kaldırım to
see some of the city's fine old Frankish (European) houses,
several of the city's most historic
and of course the Galata
Above, Karaköy (Galata) landmarks: Galata
Tower looms above the Art Deco Yolcu Salonu (Passenger Terminal) soon to be replaced by Galataport's modern port facilities.
Fried fish shop, Karaköy.