Friday, November 24, 2006

Istanbul’s Pera and Taksim Area and the Significance of its Hotels for the City

Istanbul’s Pera and Taksim Area and the Significance of its Hotels for the City
by: Hakan Silistre

Istanbul’s modern city center, Taksim has gained its reputation of being the heart of the living city not only because of its convenient location but also because of many different cultural, historic and artistic attractions that it offers to the travelers. The hotels located in this part of the city is significant to the development that the city has witnessed in the last 4 decades.

Taksim Square derives its name from the 1733 water distribution building built there, in which water distribution for different districts of Istanbul used to be administered. The word “Taksim” in Turkish means “distribution” as it relates to where the water would be distributed from at the time. At the center of Taksim Square is the 12 meters high Republic Monument which was designed by the Italian architect Pietro Canonica and it symbolizes the foundation of the republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923.

The historic Pera, where is now officially called “Beyoglu” is a long pedestrian-only district that starts at the Taksim Square and swings through to Galata Tower for almost one and a half miles. More than 55 private or state-owned Art Galleries and over 30 foreign Consulates can be found in Beyoglu.

Beyoglu houses many movie theaters such as Emek, Fitas or the Alkazar. Most of the foreign movies are presented in their original language with subtitles in Turkish.

Hotels located in the same area as Lamartine include Hyatt Regency, Ritz, InterContinental, Hilton and many other smaller sized hotels.

Istanbul Hilton is especially an important hotel of the area since it was the first of its kind in Istanbul. It used to be one of Conrad Hilton’s favorite hotels in the world as he described in his 1957 book “Be My Guest.” He does not forget to mention the Istanbul hotel right at the beginning of his book, where he presented his acknowledgments. He mentions that “his greatest debt is to each individual who has ever been his guest in any hotel – whether in Cisco, Texas, New York or Istanbul.” He was so proud of having his franchise in Istanbul because he thought this was a place where the West connected with the East. Throughout the book, he also mentions about a report he had about the Istanbul Hotel on his desk that stated people from 38 different nationalities stayed at the hotel during April of 1957. He describes in detail the time period he opened Hilton Istanbul in one of the last chapters of his book that he named “Horizons Unlimited.” Conrad Hilton notes that “the moment he reached Istanbul, he felt the antiquity, romance and mystery of this ancient city”. He thought this was a “tremendous place to plant a little bit of America by building a hotel here that would be a friendly center where men of many nations and of good will may speak the language of peace.”

Nearby tourist attractions include Flower Courtyard, Military Museum, Dolmabahce Palace, AKM Cultural Center, Galata Tower and Lutfi Kirdar Exhibition and Convention Center. Cicek pasaji is an “L” shaped historic passage where many small taverns and seafood restaurants are located side by side. It is one of the first places of choice in the city for locals to take their foreign guests for dinner during which they can see a unique environment which presents what dinners at Pera used to be like for many centuries. You can expect to see musicians stop by at each table to play a song of choice of the table and expect to be tipped for their services. They do not necessarily work for the restaurant but go through them one by one.

Taksim is an ideal location for both leisure and business travelers since they can reach many attractions in a few minutes. The hotels of this area blending history and culture with comfort and luxury make the area an excellent choice for prospective travelers.

About The Author
Hakan Silistre - is the author for Hotel Lamartine's travel tips section. Please visit Lamartine Hotel (close new window to get back to this page) for more travel tips and city specific information written solely for prospective travelers headed towards Istanbul.

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