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Taksim – Tünel Tram – Some Istanbul Nostalgia

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Apologies for the cliche but the Beyoğlu area of Istanbul really is a feast for the senses. It’s a tourist’s must.

Every time we’ve visited Istanbul, we’ve spent time in the area and we’re still stumbling across streets, bars, shops (Arıoğulları Petek Turşuları, for instance) and restaurants we didn’t even know existed.

And then of course, there’s the astounding Istiklal Caddesi (that’s another post) from which all these nooks and crannies hide themselves.

As far as we’re concerned, the best way to explore Beyoğlu is on foot. Without any sort of plan you can easily stumble across areas such as the lovely Çukurcuma.

Many of the streets are pedestrianised anyway and some are not even wide enough to fit a vehicle the width of a car down them.

However, if walking isn’t your thing, you can also have a play around on the public transport of the area.

Taksim Tünel Tram, Istanbul
The historic Taksim-Tünel tram brightening up the area on a wet day

It’s a case of nostalgia and necessity for the transport available to you.

Istiklal Caddesi is a (roughly) 2km pedestrianised stretch of stunning 19th Century European architecture that begins at Taksim Square and ends around Tünel.

There is one vehicle that is permitted to run along this amazing avenue and that’s the historic Taksim – Tünel tram.

We’ve only used this tram once as it’s always packed. And, well, you just can’t beat a good old aimless amble and an about turn down a side street or passage should the fancy take you.

But, if all you want to do along Istiklal is view the grand buildings (or be able to say you went on the famous tram), then it’s a good idea.

Trust me, it is NOT going to go too fast for you.

There will be ample time to marvel at the architecture – and marvel at just how many people can squish up and down one street!

Istanbul Taksim-Tünel Historic Tram
The historic tram climbs Istiklal towards Taksim

The tram continuously crawls up and down the avenue, ringing its bell in warning to oncoming pedestrians and photo-taking tourists who risk life and limb trying to get a head-on shot.

Yes, I’ve been one of them on numerous occasions. And I will be again – I’m still not happy with the pics I’ve got!

Somehow (I have no idea how) the tram and pedestrians of Istiklal Caddesi co-exist successfully.

Nobody rushes to get out of the path of the tram – there’s often nowhere else for them to go at that moment – and the tram doesn’t hurtle along terrifying all.

It’s a tolerant sharing of a tight space and, for us, Istiklal Caddesi wouldn’t be the same without it.

I’m going to do a continuation of the journey through Beyoğlu by public transport in our next article.

Continue your journey by jumping on the Tünel funicular!

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Turkey's For Life

Wednesday 2nd of March 2011

@ Roving Jay: You'll love it. So much going on. Even a bit overwhelming at first. :)

Roving Jay

Tuesday 1st of March 2011

I'm about to take my first trip to Istanbul - your posts about your recent trip are inspiring... I'm chomping at the bit to get there!

Turkey's For Life

Friday 29th of October 2010

You should come Nancie. We love it! :)


Thursday 28th of October 2010

This post makes me want to go to Turkey.

Turkey's For Life

Wednesday 27th of October 2010

I bet they feel like aiming for the tourists sometimes Ayngelina :)

Connie - people watching heaven, that street! :)

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