Istanbul Sweet Home | Glossary
Cihangir / Taksim
This place offers many alternatives to its inhabitants. Living in Cihangir makes you feel as if you are living in a small district and in the heart of a big metropol at the sime time. You can prefer having your drink in your silent balcony or you can enjoy your time in restaurants, bars and cafes which are placed only in a copule of minutes distance.
The tower was built as Christea Turris in 1348 during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople. It was the apex of the fortifications surrounding the Genoese citadel of Galata. The current tower should not be confused with the old Tower of Galata, an original Byzantine tower, named Megalos Pyrgos, which controlled the northern end of the massive sea chain that closed the entrance of the Golden Horn. This tower was on a different site and was largely destroyed during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
The 66.90 m tower ( 62.59 m without the ornament on top) was the city's tallest structure when built.
The upper section of the tower with the conical cap was slightly modified in several restorations during the Ottoman period when it was used as an observation tower for spotting fires.
In 1638, Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi flew as an early aviator using artificial wings from this tower over the Bosphorus to the slopes of Üsküdar on the Anatolian side.
In the 1960s the original wooden interior of the tower was replaced by a concrete structure and it was opened to the public. There is a restaurant and café on its upper floors which commands a magnificent view of Istanbul and the Bosphorus. Also located on the upper floors is a nightclub which hosts a Turkish show. There are two operating elevators that carry visitors from the lower level to the upper levels. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galata_Tower )
Crimea Memorial Church
The Bosphorus is a geological strait separating the European and the Asian parts of Istanbul. It is a difficult body of water to navigate due to its treacherous currents and great twists and turns. In its most narrow part it is only 650 meters across; its furtherest separation it is 4.5 km . It is 35 km . long. The Bosphorus connects the Marmara Sea at the south to the black sea Black Sea in the north.
Along the entire course of the Bosphorus you can see tea garden and cafes, restaurants, old wooden houses (Yalis - see figure below), the maiden's tower, mosques, palaces, the Rumeli Hisar and Anadolu Hisar fortress (build by the Turks in the 14th and 15th centuries) and also the Bosphorus University (Turkey's most important institute of higher education, where all the classes are conducted in English). ( http://www.business-with-turkey.com/tourist-guide/bosphore.shtml )
A stay in Istanbul is not complete without a traditional and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus, that winding strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores offer a delightful mixture of past and present, grand splendor and simple beauty. Modem hotels stand next to yali (shorefront wooden villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses, and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages. The best way to see the Bosphorus is to board one of the passenger boats that regularly zigzag along the shores. You embark at Eminonu and stop alternately on the Asian and European sides of the strait. The roundtrip excursion, very reasonably priced, takes about six hours. If you wish a private voyage, there are agencies that specialize in organizing day or night minicruises.
During the journey you pass the magnificent Dolmabahce Palace; farther along rise the green parks and imperial pavilions of the Yildiz Palace. On the coastal edge of the parks stands the Ciragan Palace, refurbished in 1874 by Sultan Abdulaziz, and now restored as a grand hotel. For 300 meters along the Bosphorus shore its ornate marble facades reflect the swiftly moving water. At Ortakoy, the next stop, artists gather every Sunday to exhibit their works in a streetside gallery. The variety of people create a lively scene. Sample a tasty morsel from one of the street vendors. In Ortakoy, there is a church, a mosque and a synagogue that have existed side by side for hundreds of years - a tribute to Turkish tolerance at the grass roots level. Overshadowing Istanbul's traditional architecture is one of the world's largest suspension bridges, the Bosphorus Bridge, linking Europe and Asia.
The beautiful Beylerbeyi Palace lies just past the bridge on the Asian side. Behind the palace rises Camlica Hill, the highest point in Istanbul. You can also drive here to admire a magnificent panorama of ISTANBUL as well as the beautiful landscaped gardens. On the opposite shore, the wooden Ottoman villas of Arnavutkoy create a contrast with the luxurious modem apartments of neighboring Bebek. A few kilometers farther along stand the fortresses of Rumeli Hisari and Anadolu Hisari facing each other across the straits like sentries guarding the city.
The Goksu Palace sometimes known as Kucuksu Palace graces the Asian shore next to the Anadolu Hisari. The second link between the two continents, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge straddles the waterway just past these two fortresses.
From Duatepe Hill, on the European side, you can admire the magnificent panorama of the bridge and the Bosphorus. Below Duatepe, the beautiful Emirgan Park bursts with color when its tulips bloom in the spring. On the Asian shore is Kanlica, a fishing village that is now a favored suburb for wealthy Istanbulites. Crowds gather in the restaurants and cafes along its shores to sample its famous yogurt. Shortly after Kanlica and Cubuklu is the Beykoz Korusu (Ibrahim Pap Woods), a popular retreat. In the cafes and restaurants there you can enjoy the delightful scenery and clear, fresh air. Back on the European side, at Tarabya Bay, yachts seem to dance at their moorings. The coastal road bustles with taverns and fish restaurants from Tarabya to the charming suburbs of Sariyer and Buyukdere. Sariyer has one of the largest fish markets in Istanbul and is also famous for its delicious varieties of milk puddings and borek (pastries). On past Sariyer the narrow strait widens and opens into the Black Sea.
"Golden Horn" is its Western name. Its Turkish name, Haliç, (hah-LEECH) has nothing to do with gold or horns. The Haliç is merely the body of water which separates the "old" and "new" parts of European Istanbul.
The Galata Bridge crosses the Golden Horn at its mouth, connecting Old Istanbul (centered on Sultanahmet) to the south with Karaköy (Galata) and Beyoglu (Pera) to the north.
This short river may have gotten its "golden" name because it was the commercial heart of the city, serving as the principal harbor of Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul for 2000 years, until the mid-20th century. Markets still abound here, and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce has its offices right on the shore.
In Byzantine times, Italian city-states had colonies on its shores, and the southern end of the Galata Bridge at Eminönü was a Karaite Jewish quarter. In later times, Rüstem Pasha, grand vezir to Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, built his exquisite small mosque here.
In Ottoman times, Sephardic Jews fleeing the persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition were welcomed into the empire and settled at Balat and Hasköy on the Golden Horn. (For more, see Jewish Sites in Turkey.)
Galata is located at the north side of the Golden Horn, towards Taksim Square. Galata was surrounded by walls, constructed by the Genoese, until the 19th century. These walls started at Azapkapi near the Golden Horn. The Galata Tower was the northernmost observation tower and the walls go down to Tophane from this point.
Its name was "Sykai" (Fig field) during the Byzantine period. It also was called "Peran en Sykais" in Greek, which means fig field of the other side. Its name "Pera" which was used by the Levantines came from this origin. The origin of Galata was either "galaktos" (milk) in Greek or "calata" (stairway) in Italian.
Galata is on the European side of Istanbul both geographically and culturally. It was established as a western, Latin and Catholic colony right next to Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire. Its governments changed hands between Venetians and Genoese, but it always remained Latin and Catholic.
Galata has been a very active business center since its establishment. It also was a night-life center with its taverns which attracted the Muslim population, too. But Galata lived its golden years during the second half of the 19lh century. Foreigners and minorities gained some new rights with sultan Abdulmecid's political reforms of 1839 in addition to the capitulations.This quickly created wealth and enhancement for Galata.
In 1860 the area inside the Genoese walls was not large enough for Galata. So, the walls were destroyed and Galata was enlarged and Istiklal Street (of today) and "Grand Rue de Pera", called by Levantines, became a luxury district. First, there were foreign embassies and churches. Then, big houses, luxury apartments, shopping centers, and entertainment and art centers were built on Istiklal Street. Residential houses followed this. The people called this area "Beyoglu" which was an enlarged Galata called "Pera" by Levantines.
In a short period the infrastructure problems of the new district were solved. Streets were covered by rocks, sewage systems were enlarged, electricity, water, and natural gas networks were laid down, and trams pulled by horses were put into service for public transportation. Most important of all, the second oldest metro of the world was opened in Galata.
Galata was a finance center with its bankers and stock exchange. Its harbor was one of the busiest harbors of Europe. The Grand Rue de Pera or Cadde-i Kebir became a shopping center second only to the Grand Bazaar. The imported European goods were bought not only by Levantines but also by western sympathizers. It was also an entertainment center with its cafes, theaters, bars, opera houses, restaurants, and pastry shops. Ottomans liked the way of living in Pera so much. So, Galata became a kind of school for Ottoman politicians who sympathized with the western way of life. Because the Ottoman people were learning how to eat, drink, dress, entertain, and talk like westerners from the Levantines and Europeans in Beyoglu.
Galata was a cosmopolis. Mainly French, but also almost all other European languages were spoken there. Italians, Germans, French, British, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Hungarians, Poles, and Russians had their own communities. Each community had its own places of worship, not only based on its religion but also based on its different sects. Therefore, many churches and synagogues of different groups were located close to each other.
Despite the fact that the existence of many Muslim people and places in Galata like Galata Mevlevi Convent, Arab Mosque, Asmali Mosque and Aga Mosque, these were hardly enough to change the Galata's Western characteristics.
There were also many foreign education centers in Galata; French, British, Italians, Germans, and Austrians opened high schools in Galata. The rich and noble muslim families, along with the Levantines and minorities, sent their children to those schools. Most of the Ottoman and Turkish scholars were educated in those schools.
In the late 80's and 90's Galata district became an important cultural center again for the local people of Istanbul and foreigners. There are beautiful old houses and buildings, cafes, restaurants, local markets and colorful atmosphere. Today Galata is known as the district of Jews and foreigners who live in Istanbul.
Galata Tower is the most impressive monument from the old tissue of the district, there is a great view of the city from the top.
Pera Palas Hotel, once used by the travelers of the Orient Express, is also in the Galata district. The room where Agatha Christie stayed is the most popular room for the guests. Atatürk also stayed for some time in this fantastic hotel, today his room is a kind of small museum.
Bridges have a special fascination for people and tend to acquire their own stories and legends. This is true of Istanbul, where bridges have found their way into folklore and become a treasured feature of the urban landscape.
Therefore to treat the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn merely from the historic angle would be misleading. This bridge has not only been a means of getting from one side of the waterway to the other, but like a fellow citizen has had symbolic and spiritual significance in people's lives. From the end of the 19th century in particular, the bridge has featured in Turkish literature; in theater, poetry and novels. Above all in the latter medium there is hardly a novelist, including Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpinar and Ahmet Rasim, who has not mentioned this bridge.
The oldest recorded bridge in Istanbul was built over the Golden Horn in 1453 during the Turkish siege of the city. In the years 1502-1503 plans to construct a permanent bridge here were discussed, and with this object a design sketch was made by Leonardo da Vinci showing a single span bridge with double pillars at either end, 350 m long and 24 m wide. However, technical drawbacks made it impossible to realize this project, and another Italian artist, Michelangelo was invited to design a bridge for Istanbul. Michelangelo rejected the proposal, and the idea of building a bridge here was shelved until the 19th century. In the early 19th century Mahmut II (1808-1839) had a bridge built at some distance up the waterway between Azapkapi and Unkapani. This bridge, known as the Hayratiye, was opened on 3 September 1836. The project was carried out by Deputy Lord High Admiral Fevzi Ahmet Pasa using the workers and facilities of the naval arsenal. According to the History of Lutfi this bridge was built on linked pontoons and was around 500 to 540 m long.
The first Galata Bridge at the mouth of the waterway was constructed in 1845 by the mother of Sultan Abdulmecid and used for 18 years. It was known as the Cisr-i Cedid or New Bridge to distinguish it from the earlier bridge further up the Golden Horn, which became known as the Cisr-i Atik or Old Bridge.
The New Bridge was built by Abdulmecid Han. First to pass over the bridge was Sultan Abdulmecid, and the first to pass below it was the French captain Magnan in his ship the Cygne. For the first three days crossing the bridge was free, after which a toll known as mürüriye was paid to the Naval Ministry.
This was replaced by a second wooden bridge in 1863, built by Ethem Pertev Pasa on the orders of Sultan Abdulaziz in readiness for the visit to Istanbul of Napoleon III.
In 1870 a contract was signed with a French company, Forges et Chantiers de la Mediteranée for construction of a third bridge, but the outbreak of war between France and Germany delayed the project, which was given instead to a British firm G. Wells in 1872. This bridge completed in 1875 was 480 m long and 14 m wide and rested on 24 pontoons. It was built at a cost of 105,000 gold liras. This was used until 1912, when it was pulled upstream to replace the now genuinely old Cisr-i Atik Bridge.
The fourth Galata Bridge was built in 1912 by the German Man firm for 350,000 gold lira. This bridge was 466 m long and 25 m wide. It is the bridge still familiar to many people today that was badly damaged in a fire in 1992 and towed up the Golden Horn to make way for the modern bridge now in use.
The Galata Bridge was a symbolic link between the traditional city of Istanbul proper, site of the imperial palace and principal religious and secular institutions of the empire, and the districts of Galata, Beyoglu, Sisli and Harbiye where a large proportion of the inhabitants were non-Muslims and where foreign merchants and diplomats lived and worked. In this respect the bridge bonded these two distinctive cultures. As Peyami Safa said in his novel, Fatih-Harbiye, a person who went from Fatih to Harbiye via the bridge set foot in a different civilization and different culture. Apart from its place in fiction, the romantic appearance of the Galata Bridge made it a subject of many paintings and engravings. ( http://www.allaboutturkey.com/galata.htm )
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 Istiklal Caddesi.
This was also one of the neighborhoods favored by the sultan's Jewish subjects and still has many beautiful small synagogues.
Galatasaray Square, midway along Istiklal 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 Pasaji (Flower Passage) dining and taverna district.
At the southern end of Istiklal Caddesi near Tünel Square is a Whirling Dervish hall in which the Mevlevi dervishes still whirl. More...
Today Beyoglu is enjoying a cultural and architectural revival. The huge embassies are now consulates, the shops are posh again, and Istiklal 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 cafe-bars, bistros, restaurants and music clubs.
The Pera Museum (Pera Müzesi) in Beyoglu's Tepebasi 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 Beyoglu, is the Istanbul Modern Art Museum. (http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Istanbul/Sights/Beyoglu/index.html)
The street lays between Taksim Square till the "Tunel" area. The street is pedestranized and only a historical tram is running from one end to another. On the street you can find many fashion brands, famous Turkish brands and also small shops for budget shoppers. In between houses you can spot some passages and those passages can suddenly turned out to be a nice alternatives. Many shops on Istiklal street are open till late hours. As the life on the street almost never stops, shops are also becoming a part of it.
The recently renovated historic Markiz arcade as well as the Atlas and the Aznavur arcades are must sees if you are for shopping on Istiklal street. Markiz is like a trademark of Beyoglu, it is not a place for cheap crowd. You can find variety of clothes, bags and shoe stores here. Definitely stop by Markiz, which is almost to the end of Istiklal street near the Tunnel area, and feel the history in this futuristic arcade.
The Aznavur arcade is full of stores that sell everything from gifts to clothing, from jewellery to wooden furniture. Those who love the south park characters should visit Aznavur passage. You will find many affordable things for your interest and you can find many small gifts for your friends. Aznavur arcade is just in the middle of Istiklal street near the Galatasaray.
How to get there: Istiklal street starts from Taksim Square and Taksim square is the main center of Istanbul. If you are in the Touristy peninsula Bus "T4" directly goes to Taksim square from S.Ahmet square. An alternative is taking a tram to Eminonu, walking the Galata Bridge, Later taking the small metro from "Karakoy" to "Tunel". Tunel is the other end of Istiklal street, so you can walk till Taksim square from there. ( http://www.letsgoistanbul.com/shop.htm )
Taksim Square is the heart of modern Istanbul, laid out in the late 1800s near a taksim (branching-point) in the city's water distribution system. You can still see the taksim at the beginning of Istiklal Caddesi.
The Independence Monument (Istiklal Aniti) in the circle at the southern end of the square commemorates the Turkish Republic's founder, Kemal Atatürk, in both his roles, as military commander-in-chief and as statesman.
The open space to the north was once a reservoir. Facing the square at its northern end is the Atatürk Cultural Center.
Cumhuriyet Caddesi (Republic Avenue) goes north from the square to the upscale districts of Elmadag, Harbiye, Nisantasi and Sisli.
Istiklal Caddesi, formerly the Grande Rue de Péra, starts in Taksim Square by the Independence Monument and extends southwestward to Galatasaray Square and Tünel Square.( http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Istanbul/Sights/Beyoglu/Taksim.html )
The tradition of the Turkish bath extends far back, to a time before Turks had reached Anatolia. When the Turks arrived in Anatolia, they brought with them one bathing tradition, and were confronted with another, that of Romans and Byzantines, with certain local variants. The traditions merged, and with the addition of the Moslem concern for cleanliness and its concomitant respect for the uses of water, there arose an entirely new concept, that of the Turkish Bath. In time it became an institution, with its system of ineradicable customs.
For the Turkish bath was much more than just a place to cleanse the skin. It was intimately bound up with everyday life, a place where people of every rank and station, young and old, rich an poor, townsman or villager, could come freely. Women as well as men made use of the "hamam", as the bath is known in Turkish, although of course at separate hours.
From the individual's point of view, the hamam was a familiar place from the earliest weeks of life right up to its very end. Important occasions during a lifespan were, and in some township still are, celebrated with rejoicing at the bath. The newborn's fortieth day, the brides bathing complete with food and live music, and the Avowal are instances. The latter requires some explanation, for it involved the custom common in Anatolia of making a promise or vow, contingent on the fulfillment of some important wish. The celebration of this in the hamam was arranged and paid for by the person fulfilling his vow, and was open to one and all.
The hamam ceremony of mourning, on the other hand, was far different, but also widespread. The Hospitality bathing was simply the taking of one's house-guest to the hamam for a wash. Then there were the Circumcision, Groom's, and Off-to-the-Army bathings, and others besides. As we see, the whole culture of a people had the Turkish bath as one of its important nexuses.
Naturally, there was a range of equipment associated with a hamam visit, and until recently one might count from 15 to 20 articles in the bundle which a woman brought along with her. Let's see this bundles:
The "pestemal" (pesh-te-mahl), a large towel fringed at both ends and wrapped around the torso, from below the armpits to about mid-thigh , as the woman made her way to the "kurna" or marble basin. The pestemal would be striped or checked, a colored mixture of silk and cotton, or pure cotton, or even pure silk.
A pair of wooden clogs or patens, in Turkish "nalin", of which there were many varied types. Carved exquisitely, these patens kept the wearer's feet clear of the wet floor. They would be embellished in a number of ways, most often with mother-of-pearl, or even sheathed in tooled silver. They might have jingles, or a woven straw sheath, or be applied with felt or brass.
The "tas", or bowl for pouring water over the body, was always of metal. Weather silver, gilt or tinned copper, or of brass, the tas always had grooved and inlaid ornamentation.
One finds a soap case of metal, usually copper, with a handle on top like a handbag, and perforated at the bottom to allow water to run out. Not only soap goes into such a case, but also a coarse mitt for scouring down the skin, a webbing of date-palm or other fibers for lathering on the soap, and combs both fine and broad-toothed made of horn or ivory.
The "kese" (keh-seh), that rough cloth mitt carried in the soap case, not only scoured the dirt out of the pores, but served to deliver a bracing massage. The soaping web, on the other hand, was specially woven out of hair or plant fibers.
A small jewelry box is often included, and depending on the region will be of silver, copper or wood, sometimes covered with wicker, felt, velvet or silver. As she undresses in the hamam, the woman will remove her jewelry and place it in this box.
There are three towels for drying, one to go around the hair like a turban, one around the shoulders, and one around the waist.
The hamam carpet would be laid on the floor, then another cloth spread over it. Indeed, the name of the latter, "yaygi", contains the Turkish root for Quotspread". The woman would sit on the mat so formed to undress, and it was here that the bundle itself would be placed. After each trip to the hamam the spread would be washed and dried, then folded away in the bundle until the next time.
An inner bundle cloth was made of cambric, which can be repeatedly washed.
The outer bundle on the other hand, heavily embroidered, might be velvet, woolen or silken weave. In any case, it is always showy, suitable for the uses to which it is put on feast days and other special occasions.
The mirror was an indispensable item in the bundle, its frame and handle often of wood, but sometimes of silver or brass.
There might be a bowl for henna, which the woman would fill on arriving at the hamam. Aside from the color it lends, henna is considered to strengthen the hair. Henna is an old tradition for young girls before their marriage day; called as Henna night.
A very small container, made of tinned copper, was used to mash up an eyebrow darkener known as "rastik", especially popular with those of fair and auburn hair.
There is another box, this one for "surme", for the lids.
Attar of rose in a bottle, the bottle in turn kept in a wooden case, and inevitably found in the hamam bundle: No other perfume was considered proper for the newly washed body.
Bride's Bath (Gelin Hamami)
For the bride's visit to the hamam there was a distinctive costume for cold days, a vest and pair of loose trousers (the "shalvar") made of fine felt cloth. This gift from the family of the groom would be worn going to and coming back home from the bath on that special day of the marriage.
Another item of wear, again worn on the day of the bride's visit to the hamam, was a silken robe, open at the front and much like the Japanese kimono. The collar, the sleeves, and the front borders were all embroidered. In this ornate robe, the bride would sit on a kind of throne in the tepidarium of the bath, and the candles would be picked up by maidens and young women. The bride leading the way, the procession would march behind a woman beating a tambourine, around the hamam pool. Soon the voices of the maidens and young women would be heard in song as, candles in hand still burning, they did the circuit of the pool again and again. At some point the bridal veil would be produced to cover the bride's head, and then came the wishing, as unmarried girls tossed coins into the pool in hopes of getting the husband they desired. Even today these deeply rooted customs can be observed in the rituals of the Turkish bath.
In the towns, as opposed to the cities, there was a specially shaped carrier called a "kirdanlik" which word might perhaps be rendered "the grime-time bucket". Into it went soap, washcloths, clogs, and the pouring bowl, while the hamam bundle went on top. On reaching the bath this carrier would be used as a pail to work up sudsy water of bathing. This kirdanlik was also used in the men's bath.
The Turkish bath was also, in its own way, a beautician's school where one learned and practiced care of the body and hair, the donning of make-up. And it was here that women, kept almost exclusively indoors, could best relax and enjoy the freedom of a day to themselves.
It was built in 1491 by Firuzağa who was responsible for monetary issues in Ottoman Empire during the period of Sultan Bayezid II. Today there is a very popular tea garden ,Firuzağa Cafe, in front of the mosque.