“Galata Palace”

Galatasaray is the name of one of İstanbul’s three ferociously popular football teams but long before that it was 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 steeply 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, vinyl and bags.

Around Galatasaray

Right on İstiklal Caddesi Galatasaray Meydanı (Square) is dominated by a not very lovely statue by Şadı Çalık (1917-79) erected in 1973 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. These days you can’t get anywhere near it for the police presence. Look up above and you’ll see a rather nicer sculpture called Akdeniz (Mediterranean) by İlhan Koman which now belongs to the Yapı Kredi Gallery.

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  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 . 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 rather ordinary.

The high walls of the Galatasaray 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. Built in 1895 as the Venilahi/Verudachi (Venetian) Apartments, it was designed by C.P. Kyriakidis and A.D Yenidunia. For the first twenty years of his life it was home to Mario Vitti (1926-2023), author of Doğduğun Şehir İstanbul. 

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 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 which runs down to Tophane. Just off the street you’ll see Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence signposted as Galatasaray segues into Çukurcuma. Boğazkesen Caddesi itself is home to several fashionable private art galleries. 


Kafe Ara Right at the top of Yeniçarşı Caddesi, tucked into an alley beside the post office, is this small cafe once owned by the late 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.  Yeniçarşı Caddesi No.19, Tel: 0212-252 5067


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







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