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PERŞEMBE PAZARI (KARAKÖY)

"Thursday Market"

arapcamiStrictly speaking the name of a short street linking Yab S Evren Caddesi and Voyvoda Caddesi, Perşembe Pazarı is also the name generally given to the area of Karaköy that lies immediately west of the Galata Bridge as it starts to run alongside the Golden Horn

For most people this is a part of town to be whipped through in a bus while gazing out of the windows in amazement at the endless string of hardware shops. There are, however, a few unexpected architectural gems lurking unvisited amid the workaday stores.

Around Perşembe Pazarı

If you strike west from the Galata Bridge following busy Yab S Evren Caddesi you will quickly pass the lower station of the Tünel funicular whose lobby contains some mementoes and information about its history.

Continuing west you will soon come on the sea side of the road to the Rüstem Paşa Hanı (Kurşunlu Hanı), an unexpected early Ottoman han built by Sinan between 1544 and 1550 to provide accommodation for visiting traders, stabling for their animals and space to store their goods. Today it's still very much in use although in a fragile state of repair. To find it you will need to turn down one of the side turnings heading towards the water. It is believed that a Genoese cathedral dedicated to St Michael once stood on the same spot although if so there is no longer any trace of it. rustemhanRüstem Paşa Han

A little further along the road on the same side the Fatih Hanı (Bedesten) is easier to spot especially since its roof boasts an impressive nine domes. There's no absolute certainty about its date although it is thought to date back to the 15th-century reign of Sultan Mehmed II.

If you keep walking along the road you will arrive in Azapkapı beside the Atatürk Köprüsü (Atatürk Bridge). 

Perşembe Pazarı itself leads off the far side of the road opposite the Rüstem Paşa Hanı and is interesting primarily for the soot-blackened brick-built houses that stand on either side of it. Architecturally, they look as if they must be Byzantine but in fact they appear to be proof that the Byzantine style continued virtually unchanged into Ottoman times. 

arap2Typically Gothic entrance to Arap CamiIf you turn left into Galata Mahkamesi Sokak and keep walking you will come eventually to the enormous Arap Cami (Arab Mosque), whose square tower and rectangular walls make it plain that it actually started life as a church (despite what the notice attached to it says).

It was apparently built by Dominican Friars in 1323 but seems to have been mainly used by the Genoese community to judge from around 120 gravestones found during excavations. They in turn seem to have built on a site already occupied by a Byzantine church of St Paul. In 1475 it was given to the Moors who had been expelled from Spain in 1492, hence its name, the Arab Mosque. The friars then moved uphill towards a new site near the Galata Tower. 

The Marmara earthquake of 1999 caused some of the plasterwork of the vaults to fall away exposing traces of what appear to be 14th-century frescoes of the Life of Christ and various saints. These appear to show the strong local influence of Byzantine art even in what was a Latin context here.

Also in the back streets here you will find the busy Bereketzade Medresesi Cami, dating back to 1705 and named after its founder, Bereketzade Mehmet Efendi. In a sign that gentrification is spilling over from the Karaköy side of the Galate Bridge to this side too the Mahalo Coffee Shop beside it could hardly be more of the minute. 

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Eating

Karaköy Balık Lokantası

In business since the founding of the Republic, this hhstoric fish restaurant in the back streets running down to the water near the Kurşunlu Hanı is well known for its balık çorbası (fish soup) amongst many things. 

Tel: 0212-243 4080

Mahalo Coffeeshop

Housed in an airy old warehouse beside the Bereketzade Medresesi Cami, the Mahalo is a counsciusly arty space with lots of books and pictures, and cool music playing. Come here for pastries and good coffee.

Tel: 0212-243 4389

Mutfak Dili Ev Yemekleri

Small lokanta tucked away in a side street running down to the Golden Horn but well known for its excellent lunches. The decor is idiosyncratic to say the least. 

Tel: 0212-254 1154

Transport info

Coming from İstiklal Caddesi your best bet for getting to this area is either to walk downhill along Voyvoda Caddesi or to take the Tünel funicular to Karaköy. There are plenty of buses from Taksim or Eminönü. Or you can take the tram from Sultanahmet to Karaköy and then walk. 

Nearby areas

Azapkapı

Galata

Karaköy

perpaz1Old Byzantine capital casually reused as a fountain inside the Kurşunlu Hanı

 

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