In the shadow of the recently opened Marmaray Sirkeci station, there lies Karakoy, with generous speculation surrounding the potential success of the Galataport Project. The Galataport Project is a cruise project which includes the development of an art museum, hotels, restaurants, bars, fast food joints, souvenir shops, shopping centers, office spaces, exhibition and fair areas and car parks. This project was introduced in 2001, in order to increase in the number of cruise liners and to provide financial profit for the area. Karakoy is located across Eminonu, within the borders of Historical Peninsula, linked to Kadikoy with ferries and Taksim with hilly alleys that requires you to be quite fit if you insist on walking.
View of Karakoy from the ferry, Istanbul, Turkey
Karakoy has always been a focal point in Istanbul. The settlement developed around the port area, getting its strength from commercial activities. During the sixth through the twentieth century, the population was quite cosmopolitan, consisting of Geneoses, Greeks, Jews, Armenians and Muslims. Over the years, while the cosmopolitanism of the area has been decreasing, the activities and functions of the area have been transforming.
A common scene of war, due to its valuable location, the district today still carries remnants of those precarious times, such as the Galata Tower with its spectacular architecture and walls. During times of peace, commercial activities developed and at the end of the nineteenth century the west part of Karakoy evolved into a banking district, known today as “Bankacilar Street.” Within the years following the twentieth century, the port went on hosting warehouses, customs buildings, and passenger terminals. Today, while the west site evolved into a huge open-air hardware store with numerous tiny shops where a tool lover can get infinitely lost, the eastern portion presents varied marine and outdoor sports shops. The area also hosts various religious buildings, ethnic schools, and the campus of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.
In the meantime, the area has experienced its own evolution. The number of little restaurants and cafes that have found their way into the district are considerable. Today, if you want to get lost with the sea breeze and soft music coming from coffee roasting and tea shops you should pay a visit to the hidden, narrow streets of Karakoy.
Streets of Karakoy, Istanbul, Turkey
To gain a clearer picture regarding where the Galata Project will be initiated, you have to look at where these warehouses are located (one of them is used as Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, today). These warehouses reside on your right, should you be travelling down Meclis-i Mebusan Street, going from Karakoy towards Kabatas. However, when you travel down this street you are currently unable to see the seaside due to the enormous warehouses and cruise ships breaking up the landscape. This is where the Galata Project becomes even more critical. The transformation of this part of the district needs sensitive touches that will allow public use and the reunion of the land and the sea.
Former image of Galata Project, Istanbul, Turkey
Every place has its own history and charm, but the lucky ones, like Karakoy, with stories of both sailors and landmen, need further attention and detailed studies during such inevitable transformation projects.
Does your city have such a place that is about to undergo transformation? What sort of developments may you suggest for this kind of waterfront area?
Credits: Images by Ozlem Atalay. Data linked to sources.