| CATEGORIES: Whereist Eyup and Fatih
Molla Aşkı Cafe has a nice view of the Golden Horn along with fresh hookah and their selection of herbal tea’s.
| CATEGORIES: Whereist Eyup and Fatih
Molla Aşkı Cafe has a nice view of the Golden Horn along with fresh hookah and their selection of herbal tea’s.
Melekler Kahvesi is the first fortune reading cafe all around the world by using Turkish Coffee and Tarot. Also the cafe has become a game cafe with 35 various types of games till 2001. And it has more than 21.000 members and can service 1.000 person a day.
Fal has a long and colourful history. Jeff Gibbs investigates.
There’s an old saying in Turkish: Fal inanma, falsız kalma! Don’t believe in fortunes, but don’t get stuck without one. Most people insist kahve falı (coffee grounds fortunes) are an utter crock, but no one wants to be left out when the coffee witch starts prophesying. Having your grounds analyzed is a time-honoured Turkish tradition, and it is the rare foreigner who has not had a Turkish friend spin stories about the future from smears of high-octane caffeine sludge. But there are readers and there are readers in Turkey, and two cafes in Istanbul are renowned for their fortunetellers.
Kahve falı, or just fal, has been flourishing in Istanbul since the fifteenth century, but the city’s most well regarded 21st century coffee prophets scry at Melekler Kahvesi off Istiklal. Melekler (Angels) is located down a side street in a building reminiscent of a run down 19th century Chicago hotel. The walls are covered with Dali paintings and the high ceilings have an Art Deco flair. The place is self-consciously hip. Scruffy waiters sport headsets, wear ripped jeans, and have an air of self-importance that dares the customer to interrupt them. There is an extensive menu with decent food and an abundance of games. Readings should be arranged upon ordering your coffee–many of the fortunetellers speak English; just let your waiter know. But be warned, the place is busy. Big time Turkish celebrities frequent Melekler, along with all the fans hoping to catch sight of them, so there can be quite a line. The first time I went with a Turkish friend; a coffee and a reading cost ten lira and I waited forty-five minutes for my turn. The second time, with a fellow foreigner, it took an hour and a half and cost twelve, so there appears to be room for negotiation.
Up the same road is perhaps the second most respected place for fal, the Cine Majestic, a cafe above the theatre of the same name. Coffee and a reading cost only eleven lira, and the place is definitely more laid back than Melekler, with games, floor cushions, big screen TVs, food, and nargile–in short, a full supply of Turkish keyif. Though the readers don’t speak English, one of the waiters can easily be summoned for an interpretation. My girlfriend’s sister swears by a guy named Emre, who scried my past and present with alarming accuracy, but seemed like he was reaching when it came to my future. Apparently, I’ll be buying a mansion in Cihangir soon!
There are few things aficionados advise before having your fortune told. The first is that you should always sip from the same spot on your cup. Also, you should be in a relaxed mood. When you’ve drunk your coffee down to the grounds, put your saucer over the mouth of the cup and make a wish. With your thumb on top of the saucer and your fingers on the bottom of the cup, circle it in front of your chest three times. Some insist it must be turned counter-clockwise, others clockwise, but apparently to move it toward you (clockwise) is to make the fortune about your private, internal self; the other way leads to a more general fortune. Once you have finished, flip the cup and saucer in one quick motion being careful not to separate the two. Now you must wait for the cup to cool. Many people put a piece of metal such as a coin on top of the cup. This not only speeds the cooling process, but also wards off evil omens fomenting inside.
All of my readers said they listened to their intuition to divine the shapes formed along the cup walls, but there is a general method to scrying. The handle of the cup represents the seeker. An imaginary line is drawn horizontally across from the handle to the other side. Another is drawn from top to bottom so that the cup is divided into four parts. What these four parts mean is open for interpretation–with every Turkish friend swearing that theirs is the only correct method. Most people say the shapes to the right of the handle have positive meanings, while the shapes to the left have negative. Shapes in the upper half of the cup can refer to the near future, while shapes in the lower half refer to the far future. Another tradition says the top half is the future, and the bottom half is the past. Readers turn the cup clockwise and start either from the handle or from where your lips touched. The saucer is read last. It both reinforces the fortune in the cup and tells about your home life. Don’t forget to tell your reader, ağzına sağlık, “health to your mouth”, at the end!
Though most real fortunetellers go with their gut, there are a few standard interpretations floating around in the folklore. A knife means that someone around you is dangerous; be careful! If you see a wine glass, then a well-protected secret will soon be discovered. A cradle means that you will get married soon if you are single. If a large chunk of grounds falls to the saucer when the cup is opened, it means a great burden will soon be lifted. If it is difficult to separate the saucer and cup, it should not be forced. This is called “The Prophet’s Fortune” and means your wish will easily come true if you don’t break the seal. If the reader says “içine kabarmış” (the grounds are puffy) upon lifting the plate, it indicates a negative situation. “Ay doğmuş” (a moon is born) shows a positive one.
According to writer Yahya Kemal, coffee is more than a drink in Turkey; it is a civilization unto itself. If so, fal is a crucial part of that civilization, a spooky finale, and an experience with one of Istanbul’s elite fortunetellers is not to be missed.
İstiklal Caddesi Ayhan Işık Sok. No: 23 Beyoğlu – İstanbul – (212) 292 53 54
Ayhan Işik Sokak ÷zverim Apt. No: 36 Istiklal Caddesi Beyoğlu
Tel (0212) 251 31 01
Ayhan Işik Sokak No: 10
Tel (0212) 204 97 07
Between Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and Rumeli Fortress ridges lies a lovely park in which to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The panorama of this section of the Bosphorus together with the view of Hidiv Kasrı is magnificent. Especially during the redbud season of Istanbul, that is late April and early May you will be surrounded by and in awe of the beautiful exquisite colors.
The park is very crowded during weekends and holidays. We suggest you visit on a weekday in order to make the most of the Park. If you are an early riser you can have a perfect breakfast at the café within the park, even on Sundays. We are sure this park will become one of your favorites which to view the Bosphorus.
Nispetiye Caddesi, Duatepe Parkı 4/6
Rumeli Hisarüstü, Sarıyer
Tel: (212) 257 43 91 – 257 08 19 – 287 57 90
Fax: (212) 257 08 15
A fantastic park day and night with airplanes landing and taking of right above your head from nearby Ataturk airport. There’s a nice cafe as well as a restaurant.
0 212 663 49 61
0 212 663 18 67
A beautiful coffee shop in Çengelköy: Çınaraltı Kahvesi is a special place where one can enjoy either tea or coffee while enjoying a breathtaking view of the Bosporus. Located in Üsküdar’s Çengelköy neighborhood, the coffee shop gets it name from the historical sycamore tree (Çınar in Turkish) it was built under. It opens at 7:00 a.m. and continues to serve customers until midnight. Çınaraltı Kahvesi was used as a setting for Turkish television shows “Süper Babe” and “Çınaraltı.”
Ortakoy is one of the nicest neighborhoods of Besiktas districts in the European side of Istanbul on the Bosphorus Strait, right under the first Bosphorus bridge. In Turkish it means “middle village” because it was in the middle of the strait, and during the Ottoman period it was just a small fishing village and a resort for the Ottoman dignitaries because of its attractive location. After many years, the district is still a popular spot for local people and foreign visitors.
Ortakoy has many cafeterias and tea houses around a square near the water or in the alleys, moderate or expensive restaurants, bars, small shops and a market which gets very lively during the weekends. In the summer time there are even small size concerts or street shows etc. Many world class night clubs are also in this area, on the Bosphorus.
Ortakoy center lies within a triangle of a Muslim mosque, a Christian church, and a Jewish synagogue, witnessing the religious freedom and mosaic in Turkey as a secular state. Other interesting sites within Ortakoy district are: Ciragan Palace hotel which used to be a palace, Kabatas High School from late Ottoman period, Feriye restaurant which used be the hunting mansion of the sultans, Princess Hotel, Sortie night club and Reina night club. A small pier is connecting Ortakoy to other neighborhoods on the Asian side by passenger ferries.
This recently renovated cafe/bar is situated on the corner of Kalyoncu Kullugu and Hamalbasi streets across from the British Consulate-General. It was founded by an Ottoman Greek named Panayotis Papadopoulos in 1898. It’s one of many wine shops in Beyoglu, which had many Ottoman Greek residents at the time. It is now a hotspot for up-and-coming Turkish professionals. Drinks cost around $1.50 to $3. Snacks and light meals are available.
Çamlıca Hill is one of the highest points of the Bosphorus and Istanbul, 263 m high from the sea level. It was used as a picnic area. In the early 1980′ the Touring Automobile Association built a series of restaurants which include a Turkish cafe and a park. After the wedding ceremony newly wed couples come here to drink tea with their relatives.
Famous for its sunset views of Istanbul and Bosphorus, Çamlıca Hill offers a uniquely pleasant retreat with its fresh air and the pavilions. In many poems and works of literature, Istanbul is known for its seven hills, Çamlıca is the tallest of the seven. Çamlıca Hill, which is also mentioned in many songs, is located in Üsküdar. The most beautiful sunsets in the entire city can be viewed from this hill. Among the many locations visible from Çamlıca are the Prince Islands, Sultanahmet, Süleymaniye and Ortaköy. As you will see, the view certainly does justice to the silhouette of Istanbul that it encompasses.
The hill is divided into two separate sections: Büyük and Küçük Çamlıca. Without doubt, it provides a warm welcome to those who would like to view the panoramic beauty of Istanbul and the Bosphorus and the unique beauty of an Istanbul sunset. In addition to the hill’s famous views, it is also home to many cafes, where you can get your fill of the unique pleasure that narghile offers. Often newly-married couples make trips to Çamlıca Hill after their ceremony, further adding to the lively atmosphere on the hill.
Due to the fact that the Ottoman sultans paid a good deal of attention and appreciation to the area, Çamlıca is also the site of many pavilions. As expressions of the splendor and joie de vivre of the Ottoman Sultanate, these pavilions most of which still exist today helped to make Çamlıca what it is.
Today they provide an excellent setting for an Istanbul brunch, and their natural beauty offers succor to many an Istanbul resident who has grown exhausted from the bustle of urban life. In these surroundings, you can enjoy the flavor of tea or a Turkish coffee.
The Çamlıca pavilions are located within the Çamlıca Grove. Enjoy a delightful breakfast here or bring a picnic. The pavilions are a unique example of how the Ottoman’s fine architecture is applied with today’s aesthetics. Its panorama spreading as far as Kartal covers Kadıköy, Eminönü, Üsküdar and Beşiktaş.
The Sofa, Cihannüma, Topkapı and Su Pavilions, all of which demonstrate the elegance and detail of Ottoman architecture, are all located within the Küçük Çamlıca Woods. If you want to give yourself the gift of a brunch, while taking in the incomparable views of the Bosphorus during your trip to Istanbul, the establishments located in these pavilions will surely satisfy you with their diverse breakfast menus. At these pavilions, you will find a wide variety of food, along with hot and cold drinks. They are open from 09:00-23:00.
Moreover, located within the Çamlıca Grove, Su Pavilion (Water Pavilion) is also at your service with its pool, waterfall and cafeteria menu during the summer time. The pavilions offer cafeteria service during the weekdays and on weekends. Engagement parties, wedding ceremonies, other meetings and organizations often take place on the grounds as well.
By Stacie Leone
Beyoglu is without a doubt the place to measure the pulse of Istanbul. With its cacophonous sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sometimes even feelings, Beyoglu is the place to see and be seen. Though seemingly impossible to describe, the area from Taksim to Galatasaray Lisesi (High School), plus “French Street” (Fransiz Sokagi) is the subject of our current sojourn.
In order to explore the area, the Metro is the best way to arrive. When exiting the Metro in Taksim, you will find the five-star Marmara Hotel just to your left, the Atatürk Kültür Merkezi (Cultural Center) to the back of you although your view of the Center is currently obstructed by a huge construction site where a metro connection from Taksim to Kabataş is being built. Atatürk Kültür Merkezi is Istanbul\\\’s main concert hall. The Istanbul State Symphony performs here from October through May, and ballet and dance companies do shows year-round.
Before starting down Istiklal, we recommend a stop at the swanky Gezi Istanbul Cafe, where a coffee and a piece of cake from their excellent patisserie are well worth a visit.
Returning to the Metro exit, straight ahead you will find Taksim Square. Walking towards it, you will see the statue of Atatürk (founder of the Turkish Republic) that sits in the middle. More importantly, you will see a plethora of people sitting around the statue, smoking, drinking cola, chatting, or eating a simit (bagel-like bread). Merely glancing around the square brings insight into how much globalization has changed Turkey in this, the heartland of Istanbul. Internet cafes, television screens, jewelry shops, American and Turkish fast food restaurants, are just some of the sights to take in.
This is the start of Istiklal Caddesi, the main thoroughfare that is (usually) off-limits to cars and only open to pedestrians. For those with tired feet, a historic and charming tram runs the length of Istiklal from Taksim to Tunel. (Although out of service as we went to press, the tram will reopen once construction on Istiklal is completed.) Besides a plethora of retail stores and cafes, the street is home to consulates of several nations including France, Greece, Sweden, Armenia, and Russia.
During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, the street was called Cadde-i Kebir (Grand Avenue) and became a center for European foreigners, Levantines (who referred to the Avenue as Grande Rue de Pera), Ottoman intellectuals and western culture admirers during the reforms in the 19th century. When 19th century travelers referred to Constantinople (today, Istanbul) as The Paris of the East, they were thinking of the Grande Rue de Pera (Istiklal Caddesi) and its half-European, half-Asian culture. With the declaration of the Republic in October 29, 1923, the street\\\’s name was changed to Istiklal, meaning “independence”, to commemorate the triumphal Turkish War of Independence.
As you approach Istiklal you will notice off to the left the striking and impressive structure of the ancient Greek Orthodox Church, also known as Aya Triada (Church of the Holy Trinity), rising in the background, girded by Burger King and a series of kebab joints.
Aya Triada, the largest Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, was completed in 1882 and is still in use. The walls of this lovely sanctuary are lined with delicate icons, the ceiling painted with colorful frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible.
This seemingly strange juxtaposition of old and new is nothing strange to Istanbulites, who are quite used to the hybridization of Byzantine, Ottoman, and Western cultural influences in the city. As you scan your eyes across the landscape, notice the incredibly popular döner (kebab) stands. These aren’t just after-hour haunts for drinkers and partiers, but also a culinary solution to the busy worker or professional. The food tends to be good, if not for the fact that there is so much turnover from eaters. One particular döner restaurant there is Bambi, famous among club kids, celebrities and ordinary folk. The street with traffic is called Siraselviler Caddesi which takes you to Cihangir, a popular residential neighborhood among expatriates and young Turks. If you follow Siraselviler and make a right after the İlk Yardim Hospital you’ll find yourself Çukurcuma, an old and newly trendy area of town known for its antique and second hand shops as well as funky new boutique clothing shops. Across the street from the döner joints is the 4-star Savoy Hotel.
After a döner sandwich (chicken or beef), head down Istiklal Street. The pedestrian street — which is divided by the historic tramway for those with achy feet — continues down to the neighborhood of Tünel and is the heart of modern Beyoglu. As you start walking, you will be struck by ceaseless bird song emanating from the French Consulate situated on your right. The French Consulate also houses a cultural center that offers classes, art shows, and film showings. Your eyes will not stay on the French Cultural Center for long however because of the series of colorful shops that stretches as far as the eye can see. Beyoglu is essentially a shopper’s paradise, no matter what your particular shopping stripe might be. Opposite the French Consulate are a slew of multinational chain stores. A number of money exchange places are located here as well, although it is well advised to keep a close eye (and hand) on your personal belongings while strolling. Haci Baba, one of the oldest restaurants in Istanbul, famous for its kebabs, is located just on your left. Right after the French Consulate, on the right, is a recently opened cafe called IST, which serves pasta, burgers, salads, and desserts. Take the next right, onto Zambak Street, just before the trendy and always interesting Akbank Sanat Galerisi (Art Gallery), where you’ll find the Ahenk boutique, providing luxurious, monogrammed men’s shirts and accessories. Right after that is Fado Irish Bar and Grill, a retro-style Irish bar that features live music on weekends. After passing Fado, make a right on Ana Çeşme Sokak to find the Japanese Culture and Information Center on your immediate left. Here you cannot only learn Japanese, but taste it as well. The cafe serves sushi, accompanied by live Japanese music. Cross back over Zambak Sokak and walk down the other end of Ana Çeşme Sokak (you are now parallel to Istiklal Caddesi) to find two popular vegetarian restaurants. Frequented by expats and Turks alike, Zencefil offers an airy, cosmopolitan atmosphere and frequently changing menu of simple vegetable-based fare. A bit further down the street is Parsifal. In business for eight years, it’s a cozy, family-run place serving home-cooked vegetarian, vegan and a few chicken dishes to its loyal clientele.
Walk back to Zambak Sokak and cross to the other side of Istiklal. There you will see the unassuming but lovely boutique Triada Residence Apart Hotel on the right and the entrance to Aya Triada on the left. Opposite to the churchyard is the bar/cafe Dulcinea. Named for Don Quixote’s imagined beloved, the bar features elaborate drinks, provides a boatload of atmosphere and, once in a while, art shows and concerts. Next door to Dulcinea is Tuta, a pastry shop & cafe whose pastries taste as delicious as they appear and whose owners luckily put as much time into décor as into their baked goodies.
Heading back down to Istiklal, it’s impossible to miss the huge Fitaş movie theater sign, a cinema house which mainly caters to Hollywood-hungry crowds. The building also houses the North Shield Irish Bar and Pub as well as a deafeningly loud CD store.
Turn left and continue along Istiklal. A bit further along is Simit Dünyasi, the brainchild of young, American-educated Turkish entrepreneurs, which serves traditional Turkish breakfast fare of simit with cheese, olives, jelly, and other goodies, all with a fast food mentality. You’re now in the thick of things, where cheap lingerie stores compete with noisy music shops and street hawkers, many of whom are Beyoglu institutions, such as the blind man selling newspapers, or the droopy mustachioed man who is hunched over as a result of the numerous beads he is selling. Just to remind you however, of the truly commercialized nature of the neighborhood, there stands to your left the imposing façade of the Adidas store. On the same side of the street, just before reaching McDonalds, make a left onto a small street, aptly named Küçükparmakkapi (Small Finger Door) Sokak, which is lined with cozy tea houses wherein you can smoke nargile (the flavored tobacco smoked through a hooka or water pipe), sip tea, and watch the world pass hurriedly by.
After returning to Istiklal, take an immediate left after McDonalds and walk up the street named Büyükparmakkapi (Large Finger Door) Sokak. Hidden among the Türkü music bars, reggae dance clubs, the famous live music venue Hayal Kahvesi and various restaurants is Pandora Book Store. Pandora is a lovely place housing a wide array of English and Turkish books and a huge selection of travel guides. Also check out Pen Cafe, a cozy retreat filled with the sound of classical music and grandma’s ultra comfy antique furniture. The Galatasaray Football Team Fan Club is on the left and Nizam Pide Salonu on the right serves işkembe (tripe soup), delicious kuru fasulye (cooked beans), pide (Turkish pizza), and other food into the wee hours of the morning for the après nightclub crowd. Make a right off this street where you’ll find a number of second hand and antique book shops carrying mostly Turkish titles, old copies of magazines, and some seriously dusty records, though many are potentially good finds.
“Little America” abounds in a big way on Istiklal but then there’s Mavi Jeans, Turkey’s answer to Levi’s. The M&N Brasserie on the right is a stylish little cafe with cushy benches and a faintly Parisian air. The bar menu includes items like “Sex on the Beach” and Melba cocktails for around 10 YTL each. Heading back out to Istiklal, check out the flagship seven-story Vakko department store, at which well-heeled Istanbulites have been shopping since 1934. Vakko has several more branches throughout Istanbul. Just before Polo Garage on the right hand side of the street, make a right onto Imam Adnan Sokak, where you’ll find the Yeşilçam cinema. Yeşilçam is the name given to the Turkish movie industry, one with a past as illustrious if not as prolific as “Bollywood”. Beyoglu was the center of that industry. Passing all the cafes and restaurants and walking to the end of this street will bring you to Bi Buçuk, where you can find the best American-style buffalo wings in Istanbul, ideally consumed with ice cold beer.
Returning to Istiklal and Vakko, look next door to Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir, specializing in “Turkish Delights” (lokum) and akide şekeri (different flavors of homemade hard candy) and in business since 1777. D&R, a music and book store, which carries some English language books, magazines, and a good selection of popular music CDs is next door. On the right, behind the man offering his scale to weigh you is Hüseyin Aga Cami, the only mosque located on Istiklal Caddesi. It was built on the grounds of a Byzantine church in 1597 by Haci Hüseyin Aga, a prominent vineyard owner and superintendent of the Ottoman Naval Arsenal.
Make a right directly after passing the mosque and to your left you will find Aga Restaurant, open since 1920. Aside from the Ottoman cuisine, the restaurant is also well known for its composted artichokes, erik (plums), cherries, and many other treats. The Aga menu is mostly derived from the Kastamonu region of Turkey. Customers’ favorite dishes include Imam Bayildi (loosely translated “The imam has fainted” – an olive oil eggplant dish). On the same street a few doors down is Haci Abdullah Lokantasi, another famous traditional restaurant, established in 1988.
Back on Istiklal, is a doorway flanked by two goddess-like statues which invite you into Alkazar Movie Theater, an art house cinema house. On the same side of the street a little further down, you will see the Garanti Gallery. Garanti Bankasi is one of many banks in Turkey that are patrons of the arts. This phenomenon is widespread and welcome in a country where public art funding is not a priority.
Cross Istiklal and make a right down the next side street where you’ll find Sine Pop and Emek Cinemas. Sine Pop is one of the better deals in town, seeing as the ticket prices are quite cheap. Go to Emek however, for the experience. Housing an exquisite theater with an enormously high ceiling and large balcony, Emek has been and continues to be a prioritized destination among Turkey’s film festival-going cinephiles. Going back up to Istiklal and crossing the street, you will find the Cine Majestic, a new theater with a couple of small screens that show popular Turkish and American films, while Rüya (Dream) Sinemasi across the street caters to the dreams of the strictly “Adult” cinemagoer.
Crossing the street yet again you will find Gutan shoe store, a great place to hunt down cheap and comfortable shoes. Before reaching Atlas Pasaji on your left however, you will see a side street going off to the left. If you take that street up until it ends you will see Yeni Melek Gosteri Merkezi (Performance Center), located on Gazeteci Erol Dernek Sokak. Unassuming from the outside, this 400 meter square, 1160-seat capacity space was, from the mid 1950s until the early 1980s, one of the premiere cinemas hosting huge Turkish and American film epics. It was restored and reopened to the public in the autumn of 2003. It now hosts concerts, film screenings, and other performances.
Return to Istiklal and you will see Atlas Pasaji (passageway) on your left. Beyoglu is nothing without its numerous passageways. This particular one has seen an immense transformation over the years. The bars, theater, and movie house located inside have all undergone facelifts, while its youthful clothing shops have increased in popularity as a retro fashion sense has also gained favor among the newly wealthy. Across the street from Atlas Pasaji is Halep Pasaji, also containing the Beyoglu Cinema and the permanent theater of the famous comedic actor Ferhan Şensoy. Halep contains jewelry shops, CD shops, and t-shirt stores. On its second floor, you can find a laid back cafe called Cafe Krepen.
Continuing further along down Istiklal, you will find on your right the famous Çiçek Pasaji. Undoubtedly Çiçek Pasaji is a must-see, mainly for its resplendent golden trimmed ceilings and French nouveau feel as well as its many fish restaurants. For an atmosphere that’s sometimes chaotic, often boisterous and always exciting, head past Çiçek Pasaji and turn right immediately after into the Balik Pazari (Fish Market). Kokoreç (roasted sheep’s intestines) sellers abound; act now, because under upcoming EU integration laws, kokoreç will officially be a no-no –As you wander through the fish market, you might find that your head is swimming with sensual onslaught of fish smells, gag gift operators, sizzling kokoreç and faux leather shoes curiously positioned amidst sellers of fine caviar. To your right you will find the famous Nevizade passage. Once you turn onto the street, you can do one of two things here, depending on whether you choose right or left. If you choose left, you can spend your night chatting with friends and drinking cheap beer. Choosing right entails a pricier chat over meze (appetizers), raki, and fish. The trick here is getting to know the owner of a restaurant in order to guarantee a seat on the outside, in the midst of the human traffic.
Walk through Nevizade and then turn right to walk back up towards Istiklal and observe the lovely Galatasaray High School on your left. With a long history dating back to 1481, Galatasaray’s famous graduates include Yunus Nadi Abalioglu, a renowned Turkish journalist and founder of the newspaper Cumhuriyet; Dr. Mehmet Serkan Apaydin, a world famous computer scientist and electrical engineer and Baris Manço, a Turkish singer, composer, television producer and celebrity, among others.
Just beyond Galatasaray High School is the Yapi Kredi Art Gallery and bookstore. Although the books are predominately in Turkish, the revolving array of artists coming through is always a treat to see.
Our mini-tour of Istiklal Caddesi ends here, though the street continues for another kilometer or so to Tunel, a lively, arts-y section of town well worth exploring.
Now we take you on a short journey into the Galatasaray neighborhood which encompasses French Street. Make a right just after the high school where you will see Ara Cafe hidden off to your right. Inspired by Ara Güler (who also lives in the same building), arguably Turkey’s most famous photographer, it’s a nice place to have a salad or just coffee. Since it is always very busy, you will probably have to wait for a table, but it’s definitely worth the wait. The food and service is good and prices quite reasonable. A bit further down the road you can find the Goethe Institute, which provides German language studies and various cultural activities. Rather more important however, is the bakery, which prepares delicious German pastries.
If you’re more Gaullist then Teutonic however, then skip the bakery and take the first left. Immediately to your right, you will see a brightly decorated street closed to traffic. This was Cezayir Sokak, but is now known by its more Western and controversial name, Fransiz Sokagi (French Street). Opened to much fanfare in the summer of 2004 and containing 29 buildings and 43 places of business, the street was totally renovated by a team led by the architect Mehmet Taşdiken. Additionally supported by Turkish and French architects, the antique gas-powered street lamps adorning the street were sent over by the French government. French Street plays host to dozens of restaurants, cafes, art galleries, and boutiques. This pretty street is worth a stroll and can actually take one to a seemingly different and calmer universe than the chaos of Istiklal. All the places have an interesting style, but some stand out. Gitane, owned by famous Turkish designer Cemil Ipekçi, is not only a cafe but also a high-end hair salon and beauty spa. It’s a nice place to while away a couple of hours on an afternoon or listen to live music in the evenings. They take reservations and close when the last customer decides to leave! Point Virgule is also another popular place people frequent. Located at the beginning of the street, they serve both Turkish and French dishes, and place tables outside on nice days. On colder days, the interior offers an array of romantic pictures framed with antique-style gold frames and is open until 2:00am. For some real French cuisine however, check out the art deco style 100-person capacity La Vie, Le Regal, which also sells various types of tobacco and Turkish and French wines and liqueurs, and Cafe Miro, which offers French dishes and cheeses, all in the environment of the famous French artist’s pictures. Also see Brasserie Levantine. Named for the Ottoman Turks originally from Italy, this cafe offers a Turkish and Mediterranean fusion cuisine and an art gallery on the first floor.
After taking the plunge into French Street, check out a place right near it. The former owner of French Street hotspot Dilara’s Abracadabra, Dilara Erbay has moved her restaurant just a short distance away and renamed it to Cezayir. It’s definitely worth a visit because the cuisine is exquisite and the high-ceilinged space with East Asian paintings on the wall are a treat to take in. Erbay’s take on Turkish cuisine is by taking traditional Turkish dishes and providing her own eclectic contribution. Ask about the Sufi communal pot. The latest see-and-be-seen addition to this up-an-coming neighborhood is Zoe restaurant. Owned by the chef of the popular Susam Restaurant in Cihangir (which closed several years ago), information about Zoe remains elusive. We do know that it is on the top floor of the Demirhan Apt. in Galatasaray and apparently has a stunning view of the city. The menu is a mix of Turkish and International cuisines.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our stroll down Istiklal. Though in order to take in all that we’ve mentioned in a single afternoon you’d surely have to run! Whether you’re a stroller or a speed walker, whether it’s rain or shine, you can always “feel the beat” on Istiklal and French Street.