Tophane, which has been used as a harbor since the time of the Genoese, used to be the first place where foreigners who came to the city by sea touched land. Usually they traveled up from the harbor to Beyoglu. For this reason, the climb up the hilly road attaching Tophane to Cihangir and Galatasaray is today known as the “Italian slope.”
Stablemen and their horses used to wait near Tophane wharf to take them on their joumey. Thus Tophane served as an informal reception area for these arriving foreigners, who upon their first visit must have been impressed upon gazing at the panoramic view, the centuries-old mosques, Ottoman women waiting by the fountain to fill their jugs, street sellers and small shops selling exotic goods. This characteristic of the district lasted even into the early Republican years. However, the harbor lost some of its allure due to the bonded warehouses built in the region in the 1960s. Today, one of those warehouses is Turkey's first modern art museum.