Galata is where Geonese trade colony representing Republic of Genoa in Italy was settled in 1273 under the reign of Byzance until the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. Galata is the hillside area between the Tunel end of Istiklal street and Karakoy. Galata is part of Beyoglu district municipally but the name Beyoglu (Pera District) refers to the area around Istiklal street from Taksim to Tunel.
The landmark building of Galata neighborhood is Galata Tower. It offers sweeping 360 degrees views of Istanbul including Halic (Golden Horn).
Galata neighborhood is home to NeoBaroque and NeoRenaissance style buildings in Istanbul particularly around Bankalar Caddesi (Wall Street of Ottoman Empire). If you walk from Karakoy up the hill to Galata tower there are three parallel streets. One is the obivious and direct route that is busy with tourists and Istanbul residents.
The other two are parallel side street (one with Camondo stairs with a sign for Austrian Hospital, Avurturya Hastanesi) climbs which originate a hundred meters or so up the Bankalar Caddesi. To arrive Galata tower from a side street such as Camekan street is even more impressive. Along the uphill walk you will also see cafes with nice views of Bosphorus.
Kuledibi Goz Hastanesi (Kuledibi Eyecare Hospital) is an interesting historic building which will be converted to a museum. It was built by British artchitect for quarantine hospital of British sailors. When traveling from Kadikoy to Karakoy or vice versa from sea you will notice this building right under Galata tower. It looks like a castle and somehow out of place for Istanbul. You cannot visit indoors but just looking from outside it is an interesting sight.
Galata was home to Galata Stock Exchange (started in 1865) during the Ottoman period when capitulations where given to bankers and corporations. Bank buildings in the area in Karakoy Bankalar Caddesi date back to late 1800s.
WHAT TO DO IN GALATA
Use side streets of Galata in day time. At night only use well lit preferably crowded Galata streets. There are many art galeries around Galata It is a nice experience to immerse oneself in historic narrow streets of Galata.
In some streets in Galata, around the Galata tower, you will see luxury designer apparel shops, cafes, gift shops, sweet shops and bakeries. The neighborhood is being transformed from being a run down neighborhood since 1950s to a hip one, a bit like Greenwich village transformation in NewYork from the 1980s to 2000s.
HOW TO GO TO GALATA
Walk to and around Galata either starting at sea level Karakoy or Tunel end which is also the end of Istiklal street coming from Taksim.