The area around Beyoglu has been inhabited since the time of Christ and grew as a city as early as the 5th century. Known then as Galata, it was also the site of a fortress built by Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II. Eventually, it became a base for European merchants and was alternately controlled by the Genoese and the Venetians before being settled primarily by Turks in the 15th century.
By the mid-19th century, Beyoglu again had a European flavor, with international diplomats and traders settling in the district and making it the most Westernized part of Istanbul. Even today, numerous consulates remain in the area.
In addition to the shopping, dining and nightlife around Istiklal and Taksim Square, Beyoglu is home to a variety of museums, including the Pera Museum (exhibiting art from the late Ottoman Period), the Dogancay Museum (showcasing works by artist Burhan Dogancay) and the Jewish Museum of Turkey. You can also find Turkey’s largest Catholic church and largest synagogue in Beyoglu.