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Karaköy and Galata

I was in Istanbul last week. Although it had been years since I moved to Sweden, every time I go back I feel like I have never left. I guess the biggest reason for that is because my family and friends are still there and I have a very strong connection with them. The great news was that Ezgi -my best friend- took some days off from work to spend time with me. She had a great plan to spend one of the days in Karaköy and Galata to visit some nice cafes and exhibitions together.

It was a beautiful, sunny day when we took off with a ferry from Kadiköy to Karaköy. We followed the route she marked on the map and started to visit every point one by one. The first stop was cafe Karabatak, which had already caught my attention from a distance. It was a lovely cafe with some space outside (where we got to sit under the sunlight) and great coffee. We both needed this to continue the day. I have heard that Karabatak is quite popular among the people of Karaköy.

Before we started to get lazy under sun, we finished our coffees and left for Galeri Manâ, which is on the same street as Karabatak. This gallery is in a building which was a flour milling place in the 19th century, which is why it was very cool and roomy. The gallery was hosting special events and exhibitions. We got the chance to see the exhibition “Star and Moon Drawings” by Barbara and Zafer Baran. Upstairs there were pieces from different artists. My favorite was “Hadımlı Uçan Ahmet Çelebi, 2014″ from Fahrettin Örenli.

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We continued on Bankalar Street and reached SALT Galata which I’d wanted to visit for a long time. It is an old building that was designed in 1892 by the French architect Alexandre Vallaury to be used as the main building of the Bank of Ottoman. Today, it is the home of the renovated Ottoman Bank Museum. Besides this it offers public access to prints and digital resources, and also has workshop spaces, a big auditorium, a cafe, a restaurant and a bookstore. It is a place where you could spend the whole day.

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We started with the Museum of Ottoman Bank and continued to upstairs for a special exhibition called “Dismantling the archive: Representation, Identity, Memory in an Ottoman Family”. We were already fascinated with French-Turkish pictures at the bank museum, and finding ourselves in this exhibition was a real visit to the past. It was described as: “an attempt to understand how a family, as it passed through a complicated process of transition, expressed and represented itself in writing, photography, music, narratives, and material culture”. It was just amazing to feel the real life in early 1900’s. The exhibition is on until the 30th of March, so don’t miss it if you have the opportunity.

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We had been wandering around for a long while, so it was time to take a break at another beautiful café called “Nikol”. Its food was delicious and the decoration was very cool. Apart from being a cafe, it is also an interesting gift shop. Ezgi was sure that I would love the place!

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Before we left Karaköy we stopped by Lomography Istanbul, where is not just a shop to buy different types of cameras and accessories in, but also a social place for events, workshops and monthly gatherings.

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It was a fantastic day where we did a lot and enjoyed every moment. Karaköy and Galata are definitely my favorite regions in Istanbul, where culture and history come together.

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