Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pink Quarter

Outside, north of old Istanbul windows have a small urban area which makes the most beautiful explosion of color and scent you could imagine!

What is pink in your world?

Formerly known as Pera, meaning
'Opposite Shore' to the harbor of Golden Horn, or Galata in Byzantine times, is today's Taksim downtown and dining area. In its lifetime it has seen Jewish, Italian and French inhabitants. As the Ottomans opened to trading with the West, it soon necessitated rapid outer expansion into presently day Beyoglu, with the main route named as Grand Rue de Pera. Such a diversity of new coming nations, ethnic groups and cultures was inevitably going to have an impact on th City's apperance and lifestyle.

The vibrant streets of the French influenced Pera-Beyoglu say us that French has a very important legacy in today's Beyoglu. The first embassy was constructed by the French in lower Pera, quickly followed by a host of other nations competing in lavishness, offsetting a whole European scene within the larger Oriental one.

Most of the establishments in Beyoglu, such as first movie theaters and the first cafés, were established by French in the 19th century.
The buildings on the French Street bear the signature of French engineer-contractor Marius Michel, who lived in Istanbul between 1890 and 1910, and built the Karakoy and Eminonu docks.

It became a stage for exhibiting exclusive fashions, holding glamorous embassy dances and parties... It was quite possibly one of the most mingled and luxuriant foreign communities in the world! Pera, the center of fashion, was frequented by fine Cosmopolitan ladies and elegant gentlemen. The Turks living in the traditional old city or in other districts of Istanbul loved to come to this modern European part of the City where the first great theaters, places of entertainment, coffee houses, tearooms, cake shops were established.

Following the War of Independence and the first years of the Republic, Pera-Beyoglu remained flourishing until the mid 20th century, and then entered into a period of decline.

Since 1900s, Beyoglu has regained its popularity by being again the heart of the City's cultural life and also an important commercial area. In the framework of the 'Restoration of Beyoglu' project, buildings surrounding the streets are being restored.

The street known as Cezayir (Algeria) Street was renovated within the scope of a two-year project, and turned into one of the areas swankiest, high-rent districts, and since then it's called ''French Street (French: Rue de Française)'', opened in summer of 2004.

The leading architects has close contacts with Municipality of Paris, so Parisian architects arranged the stones of the street. 100-year old coal gas street lamps from Municipality of Paris were installed. Parisian-style outdoor heaters on the sidewalks were placed, so it allows enjoying the atmosphere even on cold days.

Various pink tented and pink colored two-three story buildings, filled with different kinds of pink roses have turned French Street a real City's ''Pink Quarter'' into a popular 7-day-a-week live culture and entertainment center with cozy cafés, street musicians, artists and art galleries. French Street (Turkish: Fransiz Sokagi) has a covered area of 9,000 sq mt, and a capacity of 3,000 people together with the open-air areas. The number of daily visitors is around 6,500.

In keeping with the Western lifestyle, Pera remained a realm apart, a minute city of its own, feeding and thriving off its own cultural sphere, and this is evident today in its variety of churches, historical buildings, picturesque arcades, old Ottoman hans, bazaars and fine restaurants, that all easily visitable in one area over a couple of hours depending on what takes your fancy:)

If New York has Chinatown and Little Italy,
then Istanbul has ''French Street''


  1. What an incredible story. I believe it is so wonderful to reclaim, renovate and restore areas of our cities.

    And, this area is just gorgeous. Who wouldn't love Pink Quarter? Your pictures convey a true appreciation for the beauty. We all are the beneficiaries when different cultures work together to share all of their best.

  2. Merhaba Nihal :)

    I WANT TO GO TO THAT PINK QUARTER. Looks fabulous and SOOOOOO ROMANTIC, I can imagine myself there at one of those sidewalks sipping tea. Who doesnt like Pink, my girls love everthing pink...in our house except the boys (hubby and son! naturally). That pink flower, is it a rose? You know with our hot weather here, we dont have all those beautiful flowers as in other countries, but we have our local flowers which are different.

    I want to go to Turkey one day for sure...walk with you to the beach, oh..how lovely my dear :)

    Thanks for the tour of beautiful Turkey and I can't wait to read more.

    Big hug to you my friend :)

  3. When I was there , I love this part of the city!
    May be , because I am french !
    Pink quarter looks lovely !
    Wonderful post

  4. The Pink Quarter and French Street look fabulous. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to see it and for providing the information about its history. Your "tours" are always full of such interesting details.


  5. ciao Nihal...non riesco a leggere cio che scrivi ma mi godo le bellissime foto che fai......
    baci bea.