Galata, Italian foot in İstanbul

This post is also available in: Italiano

Always a bridge between two worlds, the city of İstanbul was a central hub for the trade of the Maritime Republics, which right here placed some of their most important centers. Honorable mention, of course, for Galata, a Genoese possession destined to make the history of this city.

Genoese colony

Like all the other republics, Genoa had also founded its commercial base in the then Constantinople, in a place separate from the rest of the city and until then called Sykais Peran, literally: The fig field on the other side. It will be the Fourth Crusade, however, that will definitively transform the neighborhood into Genoese, forever binding its history to the Bel Paese. During the latter, in fact, the crusaders, led by Venice, set the city on fire, founding the Latin Empire of Constantinople and creating the rift that still exists today between Catholics and Orthodox. The Genoese, however, helped the Byzantines to regain control of the city and so, in 1273, the Galata district was donated by Michele VIII Paleologo to the Ligurians.

Galata
İstiklal Caddesi in Galata

The colony grew and prospered, undoubtedly becoming the most historic Italian settlement outside the Peninsula, allowing its inhabitants incredible wealth and privileged routes to Crimea, at the time a nerve center for the fur trade. In 1453, being certain of the capitulation of the city, they did not make too many resistances to the Ottoman conquest, by handing over the keys of the famous Galata tower of their own free will.

Galata

The fortunes of the neighborhood did not end, however, with the Turkish conquest, being facilitated in many aspects. In fact, the Empire will tend to divide the peoples by faith rather than by ethnicity, and this will lead the Catholic souls of the city to gather precisely in this area, transforming it into one of the main streets of the city for trade.

Galata
İstiklal Caddesi in Galata

The so-called “Latin nation”, composed mainly of Italians and French, will enjoy a privileged role in the traffic of merchandise and in the role of ambassadors, a situation further favored by the Ottoman “capitulations”. Through these treaties, foreign citizens residing in the Empire were judged according to their jurisdiction, which often allowed them to obtain favorable conditions compared to the premises. With the wars between Italy and Sublime Porta, the neighborhood was gradually emptied of its Italic population, which however still resides in the place founded by its ancestors. A piece of Italy in Turkey. (It is no coincidence that Galatasaray is still the most “European” football club in Turkey)

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