The hub of Istanbul - İstiklâl Caddesi

In Istanbul İstiklâl Caddesi is the heart of the modern part of the city. The region of Beyoglu was mostly built in the 19th century as a modern add-on to the medieval city once known as Constantinople. İstiklâl Caddesi has become the bustling avenue where tourists and local shop, stop for a coffee or a snack, or simply stroll, taking in the sights.

Istanbul's elegant avenue

After a few days exploring the cramped and crowded tourist sites of old Istanbul, İstiklâl Caddesi can make a refreshing change. The crowds are still there, but the shopping thoroughfare, whose name translates as Independence Avenue, is reserved for pedestrians, so provides an escape from the city's traffic noise.

Taksim Square is the starting point for İstiklâl Caddesi, and an obvious meeting point for a powerful Turkish coffee to set you up for a stroll down the avenue. This is where Istanbul is at its most European, with its trams clattering down the avenue reminiscent of Prague or Vienna.

It's a great street for shopping, with chic boutiques alternating with little arcades housing craft shops and galleries. You can easily spend an entire afternoon browsing in the little shops and taking tea in one of the elegant cafes.

For a spot of sightseeing halfway down the avenue, Galatasaray Square is the home of the famous Lisesi school, a symbol of the Ottomans' desire to be recognised as a European power.

At the south-western extremity of İstiklâl Caddesi, the Tunel Square is a great place to catch your breath, rest youir shopping bags and take a well-earned break in one of the cafes and tea-houses around the square.

After dark

As a key location in the nightlife of Istanbul, İstiklâl Caddesi takes on a different character in the evenings. Shoppers are replaced by smart young Istanbul locals heading out to the restaurants and bars of Beyoglu. It's also the location of several laid-back clubs where you can enjoy live music and a relaxing drink after dinner.

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