Beyoğlu, the number one address of Istanbul’s art and literature scene, has a deep-rooted history. Beyoğlu, which started to urbanize in the 16th century during the Ottoman period and was called “Pera,” was originally a settlement mostly for non-Muslims. In the region, which gained a European city from the 16th century to the 20th century, embassies of foreign countries and European-style venues were built. Let’s look at these structures and the Pera Palace Hotel, which takes its name from the region.
Frej Apartments are located at the end of Bankalar Caddesi. The magnificent building, which has a panoramic view of Şişhane Square and the Golden Horn, is still referred to as “Frej Apartment” today because Selim Hanna Frej from Beirut built it. Constructed in four years by Greek origin Alexandre D Néocosmos Yénidunia and CP Kyriakidés, the apartment was completed in 1905. The building is a classic example of the Art Nouveau architectural style, a simplified interpretation of the baroque style.
Although there are magnificent decorations on the front of the building facing Tepebaşı, the left and right facades, which are not open, have a more straightforward design. But behind the flashy appearance of the apartment, there is a tragic story. After Hanna Frej’s death, the building passed into the custody of Angel, one of the Frej family children. With the sad demise of Angel Frej’s wife, Feridun Dirimtekin, financial problems began. The story, which continued with the mental hospital and the nursing home, ended with death. As a result, the splendid building has survived from the hands of the Frej family.
Located on Istiklal Street, Mısır Apartment is one of the first reinforced concrete buildings in Istanbul. The building, made in the Art Nouveau style, was built at the request of the respected statesman of the Ottoman Empire, Abbas Halim Pasha. The construction of the building, whose architect was Hovsep Aznavuryan of Armenian origin, started in 1905. The materials of the apartment, whose construction was completed in five years, were brought from France during the construction process. Although the building was designed as Halim Pasha’s residence, the floors were separated into flats after his death. Nevertheless, the building, which has French-style balconies and sculptures on the front, is still one of the most eye-catching structures on Istiklal Street.
Built in 1883, Cercle d’Orient was commissioned by Abraham Pasha, who played an essential role in the relations of the Ottoman Empire with the West at that time. Carrying the signature of Alexandre Vallaury, a French-born Ottoman citizen, the building became the most visited venue in Beyoğlu at the end of the 19th century. The building with a monumental façade; decorated with human and animal figures. Many different shops were opened in the building, which changed hands over time and was divided into parts. Finally, the building, whose name was changed to “Big Club” with the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, has historical importance as it is the first address of classical venues such as Emek Cinema and İnci Patisserie.
The construction of the Doğan Apartment, one of the characteristic buildings of Galata’s favorite Serdar-ı Ekrem Street, started in 1892. The building, which took three years to build, was first built as the embassy building of the Prussian State. The unadorned building, which does not have the sculptures and decorations we are accustomed to seeing in European-style buildings, still has an exquisite appearance. Doğan Apartment, which was the favorite of Pera’s most active times, was changing its name according to its owner in those days. In 1942 Kazım Taşkent bought the building and named the apartment after his son Doğan, who died in an accident. Today, only certain people can own a house in the building, where many names from the art community reside.
The apartment built by the French Décugis family as a winter residence in 1881 is one of the examples of the Art Nouveau style. The owner of Décugis House, one of the first stone structures in Beyoğlu, Mr. Henri Hypollite Décugis, lived in this house with his family for 60 years. Hypollite Décugis dealt with antiques; He was a prevalent person in the environment because of his work ethic and honesty. The magnificent building designed by Alexandre Vallaury, who has his signature on many buildings in Beyoğlu, has a neo-baroque style. Today, the upper floors of the building, which has a restaurant on the lower floor, are used as a hotel.
Built in the first years of the 20th century, the Botter Apartment was a fashion house. Its use as a fashion house was that the building was commissioned by the Dutch court tailor Jean Botter. The building, which is the work of Italian architect Raimondo D’Aronco, is considered the first building in Istanbul to be both a workplace and a residence. The building, which has seven floors with its basement, is a successful example of Art Nouveau architectural style with flowers and human head figures on the front.
Pera Palace Hotel, located on Meşrutiyet Street, is used as a museum hotel today. When the Orient Express, which is the subject of novels and movies, started operating its Istanbul-Paris line, a hotel was needed in accordance with European standards, and the construction of Pera Palace Hotel was started in 1892. The building, bearing the signature of Alexandre Vallaury, has an eclectic style that combines Art Nouveau, neo-classical, and orientalist architectural styles. The hotel is a suitable accommodation address to see the rooms of famous guests such as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Agatha Christie and to visit Pera to the fullest.