This street is one of the oldest districts of Istanbul, one of the most famous streets of Beyo?lu, which lies between Tunnel and the Taksim Square, and has been one of Turkey’s most famous streets since the late 19th century.
The beginning of the first formation of the avenue happened after the Byzantine period, unlike the Galata of the Bosphorus Istanbul side and the opposite. In the Byzantine era, Galata was a colonial city surrounded by the city walls and almost all of the population was surrounded by the various Latin communities, the churches and monasteries of the Catholic congregation, and the side of the Golden Horn called Pera (the other side). The highest point of the Galata ridges, which nose between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, formed a morphological structure called the Beyoglu Plateau, which started at a narrow angle and extended laterally through an average of 110 m. This hill, which dominates the Bosphorus in the east and the Golden Horn in the west, was covered with vineyards, cemeteries, woodlands and hunting areas. Up the hill of the Galata Tower, a little north of the city wall, and the southern tip of the back (today’s Tunnel Square), the cemetery, the vineyards and the gardens. There were only vineyards or summer houses here. In the Byzantine era, the vitality and commercial features of Galata were further developed with various assurances after the city fell to the Ottomans, and the Latins, unable to fit into the walls, began to move outward and to move to the Bosphorus and the slopes facing the Golden Horn. Meanwhile, the narrow path along the ridge was gradually evaluated. As the commercial importance of Galata and Pera increased, Venice, Pisa and Amalfi colonies near Istanbul were also moved to Pera vineyards. In addition, the French with trade privileges, as well as the Dutch and British settled in the region. As a result of this relative European influx which became more evident in the 16th century, the French Embassy opened in the walls of Galata, after a plague epidemic in Europe, moved to Pera (Beyoglu), very close to the present Istiklal Avenue. (Maison de France ) (French Embassy building).
This building was followed by the British Palace which was built a little further away, overlooking the Golden Horn. (Embassy of the United Kingdom). The first Muslim settlements in the area of ??Istiklal Avenue today started with the establishment of a Mevlevi Islamic Monastery by ?skender Pasha on the land given by II Bayezid in 1491. (Galata Islamic Monastery).
Again, II Bayezid had built a mosque at that time called “Dortyol” (Greek: Stavrodromion). Although it is not in place today because of being Asmal? (Grape Armored), it is called Asmal?mescit (Grape Armored Mosque) street. At the same period, Acemioglanlar Barrack was established at present Galatasaray location and this barracks were demolished and rebuilt during the reign of Süleyman I (1520-1566). (Today: Galatasaray High School).
Thus, by the end of the 15th century, the settlement of Muslims began on and around the street. However, the location was mainly settled by foreigners. Europeans brought their traditions, cultures and lifestyles to Pera, and as the number of foreigners grew, more and more shops would serve them. The Grand Rue de Pera gradually started to become a shopping and craft center of Ottoman and with non-Muslim artisans and craftsmen from Europe or Istanbul. This time, the French Palace was built next to the St. Louis Church which is also known as the first Latin Church of Beyoglu (1628).
In the 17th century, the avenue stretched from the Tower Gate near the Galata Tower to the north of the walls of Galata and to the barracks building called Galata Palace. The 17th century traveler, Eremya Çelebi, visited the Galata Palace which became the home of the Genoese Embassy, ??the Embassy of the Netherlands, the Franciscan Church, the Terra Sainte Church and the Venice Embassy in the vicinity of the French Embassy and the British Embassy on the spot. In the 18th century, the formation of Beyoglu continued around the Grand Rue de Pera axis. The present building of the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Istanbul (the Dutch Embassy building) was built on the site of the former embassy building, and the Swedish Palace (the Swedish Embassy building) was bought and expanded in the middle of this century. Saint Antoine Church was also built for the first time in 1752. The church of Santa Maria Draperis was rebuilt in 1769 because of fire and earthquake. By the end of the 18th century, the avenue was filled with mutual buildings, but beside Galata Palace, there were still other houses. Apart from the crowded buildings and a considerable increase in housing prices, the houses were usually wood, and some were mud bricks, except for a few land buildings.
By the beginning of the 19th century, Beyoglu, which was based on the Grand Rue de Pera, was still a sort of summer resort or a suburb of Galata. The actual shaping of the current style of the avenue began in the second half of the 19th century, and the formation of the avenue can be considered as the product of the Tanzimat.
The opening of the Ottoman society to the West with reforms from the top, undoubtedly led many Ottoman intellectuals, young nobles and riches to the European lifestyle called “alafranga” or “the Frenk way”. The Grand Rue de Pera suddenly turned into an extremely important center where luxurious, stylish buildings, European shops, entertainments and resting places were opened, as the Levantines in Istanbul and the privileges that the guest Europeans acquired with reforms. The development was accelerated especially during the period of Abdulaziz, and at the end of the century, La Belle Epoque style living and consumption in Paris embodied in Grand Rue de Pera in Turkey.
During this time, the streets were stone-laid, gas-lit, sewer-proofed. Later, a large number of infrastructure services such as electricity delivery, construction of Tunnel, horse-drawn trams, electric trams were performed. All these services were concentrated especially in the direction of Tünel-Taksim axis. Parallel to it, ?i?hane-Tepeba??-Tarlaba??-Taksim axis remained secondary to the development of the avenue. In short, wealth and splendor were gathering in this street.
Despite the wars, invasions and blackouts, the first half of the 20th century was the golden age of the city that turned Pera into Istiklal Avenue after the declaration of the Republic. It kept the glory of the street under all conditions with cinemas and theaters, important restaurants, cafes, patisseries. Perhaps the most extraordinary period was in the 1917 October Revolution and especially during the years when the White Russians, who escaped from the countries after the civil war, dominated the streets and back streets with their culture, music, habits, specific clothes, military uniforms.
In the late 19th century and especially in the first quarter of the 20th century, the street was a cosmopolitan place where many languages ??were spoken, all ethnic communities existed in the Ottoman Empire, many nations Levantine or foreigners lived, traveled, In the period after the declaration of the Republic, a certain Turkization policy was followed, while Beyoglu and its axis, ?stiklal Avenue, retained their different colors and tones. But the Levantines fell, and the strangers returned to their countries. For non-Muslims II. Policies like World War I Asset Tax and 1955 September 6-7 Events ended with immigration from Istanbul; Especially the Greek population decreased, the establishment of the Israeli state caused the Jews to emigrate. The same crafts, skills, interests could not be substituted for vacant places. The Istiklal Avenue did not gain a new identity, on the contrary the old identity was degenerated, the cultural texture was now empty.
Thus, the streets of Beyoglu and ?stiklal were gradually abandoned, becoming poor and unappealing. The buildings remained neglected, they were demolished and ugly and cheap buildings were built.
Extraordinary migrations to the big cities that started in the 1950s mostly affected Istanbul. The workers who came from Anatolia formed the slum districts. The homeless also resided in the side streets of Istiklal Avenue. Numerous coffee houses, stables, brothels were the shelters of the homeless, and they all gathered around Istiklal Caddesi. The result was that in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Istiklal Avenue got worse. It had to share the shopping popularity with Halaskargazi Street, Ni?anta?? and Etiler.
However, from the beginning of the 1990s, a restoration of the Istiklal Avenue began to take place, the old elegant buildings of architectural value were repaired, the fronts cleaned and the street moved away from its old façade. The sections of the side streets that were opened to the street were mostly closed to traffic, the ground stones were renewed, there were many places where also women could go and sit and spend time.
The ?stiklal Avenue and its nearby are the most cosmopolitan regions of Turkey without exception, while maintaining the positive and negative features of the past together. The Istiklal Avenue which is a must-visit place for foreigners and locals who come to Istanbul is crowded every hour at almost every day. From the world famous brands to the passages selling cheap clothes, the street is like a clothing store complex which is very big in terms of shopping. Clothing, underwear, accessories, bijouterie, shoe-bag shops constitute approximately half of the shopping places on the street. The rest make up restaurants that range from banks and fast food buffets that appeal to almost any budget, to global restaurant chains, to traditional tastes such as fish restaurants, custards, desserts and pie makers. For night trips, it has an enormous range of options from taverns to folk houses, from ginmills to rock bars, from strip clubs to gay bars. The street also filled with many cultural centers such as theaters, cinemas, bookstores and art galleries.