From Pera to Beyoglu

Beyoglu, especially for the past century, has been a very important settlement and is one of the most valuable parts of the big and historical Istanbul (Arkan, 1993, p. 15). Istanbul has been a meeting point for many different cultures and religions throughout the history; “… connected religious and ethnic groups; Turks, Russian, Ermenian, Rum, Nasturi, Arabian, Gypsy, French, Catholic, Levanten, Sirbian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Tatarian, Jewish, Italian, Maltiz and many more in this neighborhood which little girls took little walks… ” (Dorsay, 1993, p. 107).

These cultures lived together in peace in Beyoglu unlike the rest of the world. Beyoglu first emerged in the 8th century with the name “Galata” while Istanbul was the capital of the Roman Empire (Coruk, 1995, p. 21). Second emerging name was “Pera” meaning “above” in Greek language (Arkan, 1993, p. 13). Today Beyoglu is the combined name of these two places since in 1925 after the Independence War (Arkan, 1993, p. 13). With time, with influences of different cultures; cultural, political, social changes occurred in Beyoglu. Beyoglu is first known with its most important settlement Galata in 13th Century (http://www. yoglu. net/bilgi. htm).

Galata was ruled by Italian colonies that were trying to gain the trade over Mediterranean area (Arkan, 1993, p. 149). Since trade was important, Galata had become the political and economical power of the time because it was between Kasimpasa and Tophane where most of the trade took place (Arkan, 1993, p. 149). Also “Halic”, which was known as “Golden Horn” was the harbor of the city and it was settled in the south part of Beyoglu, was important for trade, so with Galata and Halic areas, trade got bigger and the population got larger in Beyoglu (Beyoglu Muzesi Icin Oneriler,2000, p. ).

In 1477, a census was made in Galata and there were % 35. 2 Muslims, % 38. 9 Ortodox, % 21. 8 Europeans, % 4. 1 Ermenians (Arkan, 1993, p. 156). Muslims were 1/3 of the whole population and they were minority. Although at that time Muslims were majority (60. 5%) in whole Istanbul, they were minority in Galata. The dominant group of that time was non-muslims (Arkan, 1993, p. 156). Roman Catholic Church was the most important religious place in Beyoglu for that period (Beyoglu Muzesi Icin Oneriler, 2000, p. 23).

With the increase in number of foreigners in Beyoglu, the area became cosmopolite (Bir Beyoglu Fotoromani, 2000, p. 6 ). In 1482, II. Beyazit built Galata Sarayi which gives training in French (Today Lyce De Galatasaray), which was a very important settlement in Beyoglu (Coruk, 1995, p. 24). After 1492, French, Italian, Venetia, Sweden, Holland and Ragusa established embassies in Beyoglu (Coruk, 1995, p. 24). Although there were many cultures and ethnic groups, which were living in Beyoglu, they were living in peace and harmony (http://www. beyoglu. et/bilgi. tm). In memories of Eser Tutel (1998); she says “… One day, we heard one of our neighbors was dead.

My father wanted my mother and me to go to the funeral. My mother hesitated to go, but then my father said that it was not a sin to go a church. The funeral ceremony was in a church and when I entered it, it was not like a mosque, it was different, pictures were different, and architecture was different. People in the church were very lovely and they made us comfortable. It was the harmony of the religions that I felt that day…” (Tutel, 1998, p. 26).

In the late 19th century, the environment of the area started to change. (http://www. theguideturkey. com/istanbul/features/9911/beyoglu. htm). In 1826, Westernalization movement started in Beyoglu with Sultan II. Mahmud (Arkan, 1993,p. 162). This movement was very big through the empire and many changes occurred in whole Ottoman Empire. The biggest influence on Beyoglu was the Tanzimat-i Hayriye, which was like the human rights of that period (Arkan, 1993, p. 164). Before Tanzimat, life in Beyoglu was modernized and Westernalized by non-Muslims and Europeans.

After that, Muslim Ottoman people could not adopt to changes which Tanzimat brought to their lives, and they did not want to be Westernalized because they were not modern and could not have the same rights like them as Muslims were minority in Beyoglu (Arkan, 1993, p. 165). While Westernalization was going on, in 1870, there was a big fire started in Beyoglu (http://www. beyoglu. net/bilgi. htm). Beyoglu’s 2/3 areas were completely destroyed in this fire (http://www. beyoglu. net/bilgi. htm). The buildings were rebuilt but not with wood, streets and roads were widend (Arkan, 1993, p. 170).

Eser Tutel(1998) remembers that they had a well in their garden of their house in Beyoglu and she says “…before 1870 I guess the area of our house were a huge garden because this kind of huge well just can be in a garden…” (Tutel, 1998, p. 9). It was very hard to see settlements in Beyoglu until 18th century so that the area was called “Vignes de Pera” which meant Pera vineyards. Before 18th century wealthy people built their own gardens, Beyoglu was a political area with many embassies built (Bir Beyoglu Fotoromani, 2000, p. ).

After that “The Metropolitan Railway of Constantinople from Galata to Pera” was established and called as “Tunel” in 1873 (http://www. beyoglu. net/bilgi. htm). These were the results of modernization. Sultan wanted to modernize the Beyoglu area because it was cosmopolite and most of the people were coming from west so they were more comfortable with changes (http://www. beyoglu. net/bilgi. htm). Sultan established Grande Rue De Pera, which is known as Istiklal Caddesi to be modernized, and there were many consular buildings including Sweden, Russia and France (http://www. ideistanbul. net/pera. htm).

Another construction was “Bon Marche” which meant a street with stores, restaurants, cafes on both sides of the street. With invention of Bon Marche, Beyoglu started to be a different place to spend time with shopping or food ( Beyoglu Muzesi Icin Oneriler, 2000, p. 25). The establishment of new shopping centers is not yet finished in Beyoglu, more shops were opened and these shops are called “passages” as a whole. First passages were Sark Passage, Atlas Passage and European Passage (Bir Beyoglu Fotoromani, 2000, p. 40).

Eser Tutel(1998) says the most known passage of Beyoglu was the Cicek Passage which was known as “Cit de Pera” (Tutel, 1998, p. 148). “…All kinds of people pass through the Cit de Pera; young people, students, workers, hungry people or homeless… Even Maria Callas had come to Cit de Pera…”(Tutel, 1998, p. 148). “…Passage was not likely to go just for drinking or food, there were barber shop, bread sellers, newspaper shops…” (Tutel, 1998, p. 149). In Beyoglu, there were also hotels that were very famous with their architecture.

Near Mesrutiyet Street, there was Pera Palas Hotel which was built in 1892. Mata Hari, Agatha Christie, and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk stayed in Pera Palas in history (http://www. theguideturkey. com/istanbuk/features/9911/beyoglu. htm). Most of the customers of the hotels were foreigners so the hotels were in European standards (Dorsay, 1993, p. 14). Although most of the European standards were not excepted in Istanbul, it was not like that for Beyoglu (Dorsay, 1993, p. 14). Beyoglu was like another city in Istanbul city, which every kind of people lived happily.

In the 20th century, in 1914 Capitulations were cancelled and all foreign countries lost their economical and political power on Ottoman Empire’s trade (Arkan, 1993, p. 178). At least they were more even (http://www. beyoglu. net /bilgi. htm). This was the new invention of Beyoglu from Pera (Arkan, 1993, p. 179). In 1923, after the independence of Turkish Republic, there was no more Pera, the name was definitely Beyoglu (Arkan, 1993, p. 190). People that were coming from Pera culture were shocked with the system that they had to speak Turkish or they had to obey the new rules of the new republic (http://www. yoglu. net/bilgi. htm).

In 1955, there was a big protest to the bomb that was thrown to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s house in Selanik; people started protesting in Taksim; passages, shops were destroyed (http://www. beyoglu. net/bilgi. htm). City was looking like a city after war; everywhere was destroyed (http://www. beyoglu. net/bilgi. htm). Starting from 1960, Beyoglu was very different from Pera, after Capitulations were cancelled; foreigners could not behave as they were majority or as they were more powerful (Arkan, 1993, p. 193).

Today, Beyoglu is the center of entertainment with its cinemas, cafes, bars, restaurants, touristic places, discos, and theaters. Beyoglu resembles the old days while looking at its architecture, however, it is not the same and most of the people left Beyoglu starting in 1960s (Arkan, 1993, p. 194). Beyoglu is famous with its architecture for tourists and its entertainment for all kinds of people all over the world. In conclusion, Beyoglu has been affected from different cultures, ethnic groups, social structures and political strategies through the history.

Beyoglu as remaining of Pera, was once full of gardens but now, is the entertainment center of Turkey’s most cosmopolite city. It is full of history and no one can deny the role of Beyoglu in Istanbul’s history. There are many memories of Beyoglu in many old minds, which young people do not know nowadays. Whatever these memories are and how older people miss old Beyoglu, these do not affect the new structure of Beyoglu. Maybe these days will give people great memories but nothing more than that.

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