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GALATASARAY

galsar1Galatasaray is the name of one of İstanbul's three ferociously popular football teams but it's also the name given to the area of Beyoğlu immediately around the huge Galatasaray Lisesi on İstiklal Caddesi.

Really it's little more than Yeniçarşı Caddesi, the narrow street that runs steepy downhill from beside the school towards Tophane and the Bosphorus. This is where you'll find several popular English-language bookshops including Homer as well as a growing number of quirky little designer boutiques selling one-off clothes, shoes and bags. 

Around Galatasaray

Right on İstiklal Caddesi Galatasaray Meydanı (Square) is dominated by a not very lovely statue by Şadı Çalık (1917-79) that was erected in 1973 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. 

Magnificent wrought-iron gates shield the exclusive Galatasaray Lisesi from passing eyes - the only way to see inside the grounds is to go into one of the cafes on the upper floors of the apartment blocks facing it which look straight over them. Although the school was founded in 1868 the current buildings only date back to 1907 (of an older school dating right back to the last years of the 15th century there is no longer any trace). Almost anyone who was anyone in the early years of the Republic will have had their education here. 

An alley winds down beside the school on the Taksim side and passes the Galatasaray Hamamı (http://www.galatasarayhamami.com/). In 1715 Sultan Ahmed III (1713-30) had the bathhouse built on the site of a much older one. At one time it formed part of the school complex. The men's baths are still a splendid place to come for a scrub although the women's are unexceptional. 

The high walls of the Galatsaray Lisesi run along the lefthand side of Yeniçarşı Caddesi. On the other side you'll see the fine Art Nouveau building housing the Goethe Institute. 

A little further down the street is the Türvak Cinema and Theatre Museum (closed Mondays, admission fee). If you’ve ever watched old Yeşilçam movies on Turkish television, you’ll relish this place, which is literally plastered with old movie posters and photos of the stars. Unfortunately, non-Turkish visitors might feel themselves a tad overloaded, especially since there’s little information to provide a context for the photos. It's a must for real cinephiles though.

Yeşilçam is the name given to Turkey's own take on BollywoodThe name refers to an early Turkish movie industry that flourished from the 1950s to the 1970s, churning out hundreds of dramas that today look faintly risible but were, at the time, hugely popular. In the 1960s Turkey actually became the fifth biggest film producer in the world. Heart of the business was Yeşilçam Sokak, a narrow street off İstiklal Caddesi beside the Demirören Shopping Mall that, until recently, retained several cinemas. It was here that many of the movies of this early Golden Age of Turkish film-making were produced so it's a great shame that nothing has been done to commemorate that fact on site.

Eventually Yeniçarşi Caddesi comes to a junction with Hayriye Caddesi that runs off on the left. If you walk along it you will come, on the right, to a curiosity called Fransiz Sokak, a stepped street of restaurants and cafes that was completely redesigned in an effort to give it a French feel. Opinions will differ as to how effective this has been. 

Immediately beyond it on the same side of Hayriye Caddesi the popular Cezayir (Algeria) restaurant is housed in a 19th-century school building. 

If instead you walk straight ahead down Yeniçarşi Caddesi it eventually turns into Boğazkesen Caddesi that runs down to Tophane. Just off the street you'll see Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence signposted as Galatsaray segues into Çukurcuma. Boğazkesen Caddesi itself is home to several fashionable private art galleries. 

Eating

Kafe Ara

Right at the top of Yeniçarşı Caddesi, tucked into an alley beside the post office, is this small cafe owned by the great photographer of old İstanbul, Ara Güler. Tables spill out into the alley where you'll find diners tucking into a mixture of local and international favourites. The salads are especially good. 

Tel: 0212-245 4105

Litera

On the top floor of the Goethe Institute this lovely restaurant offers fine views over the Bosphorus. 

Tel: 0212-292 8947

Münferit

New look meyhane in an increasingly fashionable corner of town. Standard mezes comes topped up with quirky twists like shrimp with hummus. Gets livelier as the night wears on. 

Tel: 0212-252 5067, Yeniçarşı Caddesi No.19

Sleeping

Armada Pera Hotel

Transport info

Galatasaray is a bit of a public transport black hole although there is a Galatasaray tram stop on İstiklal Caddesi served by the infrequent and slow nostalgic tram that runs between Taksim Square and Tünel

Nearby areas

İstiklal Caddesi

Şişhane

Tepebaşı

Tophane

 

 

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