May I Introduce … Karaköy!
Yesterday was the first day when one could feel that the Istanbul winter is on its way. Mist over the Golden Horn, the temperature slowly dropping and an unbelievable light coming through the clouds. I decided to explore a part of my neighbourhood of which I only caught a glance of last week. This part of Istanbul, on the edge of the Golden Horn, is called Karaköy. It is the ancient name for Galata and has always been the trade and port centre of the European part of Istanbul. Its vibrant history goes back to the 15th Century and earlier when the first Italian and Jewish tradesmen settled in this area of Constantinople. In the 19th Century the big banks, such as the Ottoman Bank, used to have their headquarters here. Today, the area is characterised by 19th Century and early 20th Century architecture. The banks have left but the port is still properly functioning. It still feels very much like the old Istanbul that seems to be disappearing more and more.
There are lots of small, wonderful family-run restaurants, traditional barbers and tea places. It is still very much a world of its own. Two fish restaurants in the area, I would like to point out, are definitely worth a visit:
Maya, the most recent arrival in the area and a herald for the change that is going to happen to the area over the next two to three years. The fish is absolutely fresh and wonderfully simple prepared. The waiters are charming too!
Right next door to Maya, is the older establishment for fish in the port of Karaköy – Karaköy Lokantası. Very authentic fish experience with blue tiles and a crowd that is well mixed. Traditional Turkish cuisine.
One can walk through all the old streets and discover the past, even if it comes in form of an old Cadillac. That kind of car was the average taxi in Istanbul until less than twenty years ago. Can you image the streets of Istanbul in the 70s? …
The water is right on the outer edge of Karaköy. So, after food and tea and possibly a shave, one can wander along the Bosphorus, watch the fishermen and take a deep breath …