Taksim Square truly reflects what Istanbul is: historic red tram above, and modern metro lines underground; between a grand mosque and beautiful churches; world famous hotels mere steps away from Turkish hospitality offered by generations old family-run restaurants. At the crossroads between old and new, East and West, Taksim Square with the Republic Monument marks the beginning of the Istiklal Avenue where almost 5 million tourists visit shops, restaurants, bars and historic landmarks every year.
Divided in the middle by the iconic red tram, Istiklal Avenue is a living museum populated by locals and visitors alike. The avenue is always lively with every corner home to a new curiosity. From traditional patisseries next to world cuisine fine dining, to numerous museums, foreign embassies, schools and shopping centers, words can’t do this avenue justice. It’s a must-see for everyone visiting Istanbul.
One of the most important Roman Catholic churches in Istanbul, this impressive building serves both native and visiting Christian communities as a religious center, as well as being one of the most visited landmarks along the Istiklal Avenue. Pope John XXIII served as a preacher in this church for a decade, and came to be known by the whole country as the “Turkish Pope” for his love of Istanbul and Turkish culture, and his excellent talent at speaking the Turkish language.
Also known as the French Street, this little passage of wonders tucked beneath the beautiful buildings of the Istiklal Avenue. Many boutique cafés are found on this street that leads to the inner Beyoglu neighborhood, home to art galleries, artisan workshops and antiques shops.
Found at the other end of the Istiklal Avenue from Taksim Square, the funicular subway that leads from Taksim to Karaköy is the second oldest existing underground line, after the venerable London Underground. While modern, Istanbul has taken great care to preserve the historical feel of this landmark by turning it into an open exhibition.
Nevizade Passage is one of the most beloved corners of the Istiklal Avenue, typically populated by joyous locals and tourists alike, there is always an atmosphere of celebration here. Nevizade made it into the hearts of millions of Turks in songs and memories.
Cicek Pasaji is one of the famous passages throughout Istiklal Avenue, housing many traditional Istanbul restaurants serving fresh fish with local spirits, various meze and salads. If you’re not a fan of fish, you can always sample an authentic Turkish kebab here.