İstiklal Caddesi is a popular street located between Tünel Square and Taksim Square in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul. The street, which has maintained its title as the most popular street in Turkey sincethe late 19th Century, is 1.4 km long. It is considered to be the place where Yeniçarşı Street, whose midpoint crosses Galatasaray High School, intersects the street and where the 50th Anniversary Monument is located. Located at an average height of 74 meters, Istiklal Street administratively covers 9 separate neighborhoods.

Beyoğlu District takes its name from the Beyoğlu district, which covers the area where Istiklal Avenue (which is also its main axis) and the streets leading to it are located. Tarlabaşı Boulevard runs parallel to the street.

Although Istiklal Street and its surroundings maintain their positive and negative characteristics from the past, they are also the most cosmopolitan region of Turkey without exception. Istiklal Street, which is an indispensable place for foreign and local visitors to Istanbul, is always crowded at almost every hour of the day, except for the early morning hours. From world-famous brands to arcades selling cheap clothes, the street today is largely a complex of clothing stores in terms of shopping. Clothing, lingerie, accessories, bijouterie, bag and shoe shops constitute approximately half of the shopping areas on the street.

The rest consists of banks and restaurants ranging from fast food kiosks to global restaurant chains, traditional tastes such as fish restaurants, pudding shops, dessert shops and pastry shops that appeal to almost every taste and budget. For night outs, it has a wide range of options – from taverns to folk song houses, music venues to rock bars, strip clubs to gay bars. The street also hosts many cultural centers such as theatres, cinemas, bookstores, and art galleries.

Main sights

The street is flanked by late Ottoman era buildings (mostly from the 19th and early 20th centuries) in a variety of styles including Neo-Classical, Neo-Gothic, Renaissance Revival, Beaux-Arts, Art Nouveau and First Turkish National Architecture. There are also a few Art Deco style buildings from the early years of the Turkish Republic, and a number of more recent examples of modern architecture.

The avenue forms a spine with narrow side streets running off it like a ribcage. Many historical and politically significant buildings can be found on or immediately adjacent to Istiklal Avenue. They include the Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Passage) which is full of lively restaurants and taverns; the Balık Pazarı (The Fish Market) with the Armenian church of Üç Horan to one side; the Hüseyin Ağa Mosque; the Roman Catholic churches of Santa Maria Draperis and S. Antonio di Padova; the Greek Orthodox church of Hagia Triada; several academic institutions established by Austria, France, Germany and Italy in the 19th century; and the consulates (embassies until 1923 when these moved to the new capital of Ankara) of France, Greece, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden (the consulate of the United Kingdom is just off Istiklal Avenue on Meşrutiyet Street).

At the southern end of the avenue, it is possible to board the Tünel (the Tunnel), the world’s second-oldest subway, which entered service in 1875 and carries passengers down to Karaköy. A photogenic red-and-cream tram runs along the street from Tünel to Taksim Square every 15 minutes.

Religious buildings

  • Church of Sant’Antonio di Padova
  • Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church
  • Church of Santa Maria Draperis
  • Hüseyin Ağa Mosque

Historic buildings and residences

  • Old Galatasaray Post Office
  • Rumeli Pasajı (Cité Roumelie)
  • Hazzopulo Pasajı
  • Mısır Apartments
  • Casa Botter, one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Istanbul
  • Grand Pera, home in the past to the Cercle d’Orient and now to Madame Tussauds Istanbul
  • Tokatliyan Han, once home to the Grand Tokatliyan Hotel

Culture and arts

  • Istanbul Cinema Museum
  • Yapı Kredi Art Gallery
  • Beyoğlu Sanat Galerisi
  • Akbank Sanat Galerisi
  • SALT Beyoğlu
  • Meşher Art Gallery

Nostalgic Tram

İstiklal Avenue’s public transportation tram system was first horse-drawn and then electric from 1869 to 1966. The tram was put into operation again under the name Nostalgic Tram between Taksim and Tünel, which was closed to motor vehicle traffic in late 1990. This 1.65 km long route is single-track and has two wagons consisting of a matrix and a trailer. With an average daily capacity of 2,500 passengers, it is a touristic service rather than transportation. The trees planted parallel to the tram tracks in the 1990s were removed in 2005.

Two bomb attacks took place on Istiklal Street on March 19, 2016 and November 13, 2022. It has been announced that ISIS is responsible for the attack in 2016, and PKK/PYD is responsible for the attack in 2022. 4 people died in the first attack and 6 people died in the second attack.

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