Someones who visited
Istanbul’s Istiklal Caddesi (İstiklal Caddesi) in the new millennium
will tell you that it’s a occupied but pleasant walker street in the
Beyoğlu district, housing a huge variety of shops, picture
galleries, restaurants, bars and picture palaces. And that is exact
what Istiklal Caddesi today is. However, most people don’t know that
it was formerly known as the ‘Grande Rue de Pera’, Istanbul’s most
elegant street and home to the city’s biggest shops, various
embassies and church services as well as fashionable residences and
tea-houses. A street people wouldn’t dream of taking a stroll on
wearing an standard pair of jeans. Let me take you on a trip down
Istiklal Caddesi before the creation of Turkey
It wasn’t until the founding of the Republic of Turkey that this
best-known street received its third and present name. Look for on
the Map with Tourist Attractions in the Cool Part of Istanbul.
Earlier the street was simply called Grand Avenue (Cadde-i Kebir).
With the arrival and settlement of non-Muslims and European
foreigners in the 17th century, Istiklal Caddesi was referred to as
‘Grand Rue de Pera’.
At the end of the 18th century French, English, Dutch, Greek,
Venetian, Spanish, Russian, Swiss and Prussian diplomats made their
winter manors in the area. Along with this multi-national population
came the still existing variety in spiritual buildings such as the
Roman Catholic churches of Santa Maria and St. Anthony of Padua
Cathedral, the Greek Orthodox Haghia Triada, the Armenian Church,
and many other church services and temples.
In the second half of the 19th century, due to the evolution of the
transportation and increased foreign trade of the Ottoman Empire,
the area between Taksim and Galatasaray improved and became a
cosmopolitan settlement for the merchandisers, business community,
bankers, foreigners and rich people who followed the style in Paris.
At the end of the century all basic facilities that a modern society
requires such as water, gas and the tramway were constructed. Three
theatres also simultaneously staged the most famed Paris plays of
Istiklal Caddesi after the Republic of Turkey Was Established
In the 20th century, the joining of the first electric tramway from
Taksim to Şişli made the Taksim-Galatasaray stretch more popular
than the Galatasaray-Tünel part.
In the young Republic times Turkish businessmen substituted the
foreigners. The Beyoğlu district, and Istiklal Caddesi in
particular, became the most modern part of the city. It was the hot
spot of the intellects because of the cultural background and
variety, together with the presence of best-known restaurants,
patisseries, and luxurious shops. The whole street was considered so
distinguished that people used to dress up to take a walk or do some
shopping in the avenue.
In the 1950s, the influx of immigrants from Turkey’s parts to
Istanbul caused a sudden, unexpected growth and rapid urbanization
of the city. New formed settlements and changes in the society’s
culture made the Beyoğlu district and Istiklal Caddesi lose its
crème de la crème visibility.
Fortunately, today thanks to an cheered Beyoğlu Beautification
Project by the municipality, together with its central location and
historical background, the street has recovered most of its former
status. Istiklal Caddesi is again recognized as the center of the
city and packed with people browsing the street with its refurbished
19th century Turkish architecture buildings, countless shops and
extremely vivid night life.