Events | Tophane

In the Nineties the district between Karaköy Meydanı and the leafy square of Tophane was still a bemusing melee of dockland low life, schools, brothels, metal bashers, baklava shops, gun dealers and churches. As many of these 'crafts' faded, Tophane  morphed into Istanbul’s artiest up-and-coming district, new private galleries and trendy cafés competing genteelly with utility shops. There was a splendid tipping point between real city and gentiltiy was reached three years ago, but the fragile balance is now being destroyed by an astonishingly insensitive waterside development. But the backstreet quarter between Karaköy Meydanı and the Kılıç Ali Pasha Mosque is still worth a wander (except on Mondays when the galleries are closed). This is only one side of the Tophane story. Inland across the tram line, Boğazkesen Caddesi leads up to Çukurcuma and Galatasary on the Pera heights, another strange assortment of artisan shops and humdrum village high street. On the shore, screened from the sea are Tophane's two important Ottoman landmarks: the Kılıç Ali Pasha Mosque and the Tophane itself, the Ottoman foundry. Also here is Istanbul's only successfully revamped Turkish bath, Kılıç Ali Pasha hamam, a genuine oasis of pure hedonism, and one of the city's finest 18th-century Hamams. Tophane is also home to serious art in the form of Istanbul Modern, the old Greek Primary School is one of the venues for the art and design bienals and a huge new Museum of Painting and Sculpture was due to open in one of the wall of warehouses lining the shore in 2016, but it seems to be dragging its feet and is nowhere near finished.

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