Strolling through Beyoglu-Istiklal Caddesi (Old Pera)
There are two versions for the origin of the name Beyoglu, which in Turkish means “Son of a Prince”. One version has it that the name stems from that of Alexius Comnenus, son of Prince Alexander of Trebizond. After Trebizond fell to the Turks in 1461, Fatih brought Alexius and his widowed mother Maria to Istanbul, where they converted to Islam and were taken into the sultan’s harem. When Alexius came of age he was given an estate on the heights above Galata in what later came to be known as Beyoglu because of its association with this son of a prince, or so the story goes. The other version has it that the name comes from that of Alosio Gritti, son of the Venetian Doge Andrea Gritti, who in the mid-sixteenth century built a palace in Pera.
A glimpse into some of the details of the buildings at old Pera
Çiçek pasaji or ‘Flower Passage’ Aka ‘Cité de Pera’ where you can quench your thirst and sample the tasty Turkish appetizers known as ‘meze’
Çiçek Pasaj, which opens at one end onto the avenue and at the other onto the old Istanbul Balık Pazarı or Fish Market, plays host to some very old denizens indeed. Maruni Naum Efendi’s wooden theater and a hotel called ‘Palais des Fleurs’ once stood in the area where the Çiçek Pasaj and Avrupa Pasaj, both built following the Pera fire of 1870, stand today. The Avrupa Pasaj in particular presents a sharp contrast to the other arcades with its unique architecture and ornamentation.
The statues in the arches of the upper level of this long, corridor-like arcade and the unusual items sold in the shops give this pasaj a different air. Colorful ceramic tiles, embroidered silk covers and Turkish fabrics and kilims dazzle the eye in this pasaj which is known as the mirrored arcade for the mirror-encased columns separating the shops.