Taking the famous and picturesque Istiklal Street as our tableau, over the course of this three-hour stroll we'll explore the former diplomatic or "European" zone of the city where nationalities, religions, and the myriad peoples of this cosmopolitan city have mixed for the last 150 years.
Beginning in Taksim Square and proceeding down the famous Istiklal Street, we'll trace a route through a part of Istanbul that Europeans settled during the 19th century, as the fading Ottoman Empire began a program of rapproachment with France, Germany, and the other powers to its west. Today, this heady period of cultural diversity is represented by a wonderful mix of neoclassical architecture and Art Nouveau, Parisian-style covered passages, and a vibrant street life of cafes, shops, and fine restaurants. Some of the most historic food shops are located here, as well as a fish market. And since this street is such a focal point of life for young Istanbulis today (the square at the top is the center of business in the city, and the many European cultural centers and consulates along the boulevard make it a diplomatic quarter) this walk very much is a portrait of Istanbul, caught between two worlds.