Karaköy, one of the beautiful districts of Istanbul, is not only famous for its several well-known places, but also because of the historical buildings it houses. This charming neighborhood was an important transportation and trade center in the past. The fact that the region was so important made it reasonable to build many cherished structures here. These precious structures, which have survived from the past to the present, are evaluated today without harming the historical textures and serving people in different ways. One of these structures is the French Passage, which we all know and is one of the symbols of Karaköy!


The French Passage in the Kemankeş neighborhood of Karaköy connects Kemankeş Street and the Galata Mumhanesi Street. The construction of the passage known as 1860, but its architect and first owner is unknown. The French Passage is considered to be a historical monument and is one of the prominent examples of the neoclassical style in Istanbul.


Let’s have a look at the history of the French Passage, hosting cafes, bookstores and other shops inside to spend a pleasant time today. Galata region is the place where foreign merchants and prominent ambassadors first set foot in Istanbul. The guests who came to Galata during the Ottoman period approached the land from the piers carrying the name of their country and entered the city with the passages taking the name of their country. It is supposed that the name of the French Passage came from this custom. According to this, the French people were entering the city through the French Passage.


As we have mentioned above, the French Passage is one of the first buildings built in the neoclassical style in Istanbul. It was bought long ago by the Narmanlı family in Erzurum and renovated in 1992 with a restoration. The medallion on the entrance of Kemankeş Street facade of the passage contains the original “Cite Françaiese” inscription.


One of the details that make Istanbul attractive for all the countries of the world is its historical texture. For this reason, it is essential to protect and publicize the valuable neighborhoods such as Karaköy, which maintains the authentic atmosphere of Istanbul. The precious historical buildings of Istanbul can be restored and brought to life without damaging the historical texture like the French Passage. Even if we encounter many examples of this in the other historical districts of Istanbul, it is a fact that there are unprotected historical buildings which are still waiting for restoration. However, these valuable structures, each made by the prominent architects of the period, are among the richness of our country.

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