Where can we start to talk about Karaköy? Doubtless, it is Galata Bridge, which connects the district to the Historic Peninsula through the Golden Horn, and to borrow from master short story author Sait Faik, “brings together Istanbul’s two different sides”. It belongs to the fishermen, the ferries, the tourists either rushing with their luggage or enjoying the views of Istanbul by taking pictures, the scent of a fish sandwich, the poetic view of the city, or the colors orange, pink and purple as reflected from Süleymaniye Mosque at sunset. When the evening falls, the shiny fish scales are replaced by the sparkling lights of the Golden Horn. The reflection of the restaurants, Galata Tower, mosques and ferries cover the day’s fatigue like a glittering blanket.
Italian author Edmondo De Amicis described this bridge as a place “where the entire population of Istanbul passes through, from sunshine to sunset, in giant waves of a thousand colors as if attending some kind of parade”. This description from the 1870s still rings true.
Let’s visit at Galata Pier. This is the location of Galata Fortress (Underground Mosque), built by the Byzantines to protect the city. During the time of the Genoese, it was one of the world’s most important harbors frequented by the vast number of traders and galleys.
The second stop is Bankalar Street, one of the city’s most characteristic streets due to its architecture diversity. Once home to the first banks of the Ottoman Empire, the street was the center of finance and commerce of the 19th century. As banks started to move their headquarters to new plazas in the 90s, these buildings were transformed into hotels and art galleries.
After visiting Kılıç Ali Paşa Bathhouse built by architect Sinan, you should set out to explore Karaköy’s popular eateries. Make sure to take a break at a cafe and enjoy aromatic coffees in Karaköy.
Vault Karaköy is one of the hotels that best keep Karaköy’s spirit alive with its chic restoration. (Skylife)