The Anatolian side of Istanbul, which gathers people from different cultures under one identity, that of a ‘civic resident,’ is Turkey’s gift for the entire world, perfectly suitable for the European Capital of Culture.
In the Anatolian side of Istanbul, which brings together all colors of Turkey, it is quite likely for a Turk to come across another Turk or an object that has originated from his home town. Here, you can find carpets from Milas, as well as cheese from Kars and Trabzon style bread. This conglomeration of cultures is one of the attractions of the Anatolian side, and another is its endless beauties.
Following the Seagulls
We have left behind the time when Haydarpaşa train station was the symbol for Istanbul welcomes and departures. Nowadays, the new symbol that brings Anatolia and distant places near is Sabiha Gökçen Airport. This, however, does not change the fact that Haydarpaşa Station is still one of the most beautiful constituents of Istanbul’s sky line. If you can manage to pull yourself out of this beautiful structure that resembles the west for the people arriving from the east and the east for the people arriving from the west, we suggest that you follow the seagulls. The seagulls that follow the ferryboats, which quietly approach the Bay of Kadıköy, lead you to one of the busiest market places in Istanbul. The market place that spreads out into narrow streets is always full of action. Starting from the port and extending to Bahariye, the market place is an entirely different world with its fish market, array of shops, bookstores, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and antique shops. You may also hop onto the nostalgic tram, which began operating after 37 years, and pay a visit to Moda. You can wander around on Bağdat Caddesi or walk from Kalamış to Bostancı and spend the whole day there. Üsküdar, which is 15 minutes away from Kadıköy by dolmuş (minibus), besides its historical texture, is also ornamented with motifs specific to Anatolia. What other place on earth can welcome its visitors with such beautiful scenery as the Salacak coast? Unparalleled backdrops that engulf the Kızkulesi (Maiden’s Tower), Şemsi Pasha Mosque, Selimiye Barracks, Mihrimah Sultan Complex and Fethi Pasha Woods can be seen in the distance within a few hours walk. Kuzguncuk, which is the last stop before the Bosphorus Bridge, has been a hideout for artistic souls. In the neighborhood that hosts names like Can Yücel, Oktay Rıfat, Hülya Koçyiğit and Uğur Yücel, the minarets of a mosque and bell tower of a church standing side-by-side by the port explains a lot.
‘Badem’ And The Maple
On a plate across the port, Beylerbeyi is described as “A district for the elegant people where the aristocrats keen on formality reside.” To say the least, this is one of the most beautiful ports of Istanbul. A square, which is surrounded by fish restaurants, sums up all the port districts along the Bosporus. Hamid-i Evvel Mosque on the right-hand-side was built for Rabia Hatun, the mother of Sultan Abdülhamid I, in 1778. Another beckoning stop in the district is the Beylerbeyi Palace. The reception hall and the gardens of the palace, which were built in 1865 as a summer guest house, are well worth seeing. Greengrocer stalls in Çengelköy, loaded with gherkins, welcome the visitors arriving from the Beylerbeyi direction. These gherkins are called “badem,” which means almond in Turkish, perhaps due to their crunchiness. The side streets are very quiet, despite the heavy traffic along the main road, aligned with various shops. Old wooden houses with bay windows, which somehow were able to survive great fires, are the ornaments of these streets. The classic thing to do in Çengelköy is to buy some pastries from the pastry shops and head for the tea gardens set under the huge maple tree. The tables and chairs scattered around the huge maple tree, which is 780 years old, according to a plate nailed on its trunk, overlook the picturesque Bosphorus Strait. This district, which is situated on a semi-circle shaped narrow bay between Beylerbeyi and Vaniköy, is a reminder of the old district life in Istanbul, with its streets full of surprises, its shopkeepers, stray cats, post office, hundred year old bakery, and elderly folks conversing in open air cafes by the shore. The small square opposite the port is ideal for people who want a break from urban life. Tasting fresh fish in one of the restaurants hidden under the dark shadows of the old maple trees is an experience not to be forgotten.
Between the ports
The region between Kandilli and Küçüksu is probably the wealthiest region among the waterfront residences. The waterfront mansions of Kıbrıslı, İsmail Pasha, Abud Efendi, Hadi Semi Bey and Edib Efendi can be seen during a short ferry ride. One must wander around the narrow side streets in order to explore the welcoming face of Kandilli, which has a small port specific to old fishermen villages. Climbing up the steep hills of the narrow side streets will lead you out to the sea, where there sits old elegant wooden houses, and a small-town atmosphere. Next to Kandilli, Anadolu Hisarı was built on the narrowest place of the Bosporus. The district cooled by the Göksu Creek, which has been the source of inspiration for many songs and poems, was named after the small castle built here in 1395. Göksu, which was a favorite picnic area in the Ottoman period, is about to regain its old identity with the reconstruction of its beach and green areas in recent years. Küçüksu Summer Palace is the most prominent building of Göksu, and is also known for its open air cafes that display the sceneries of the Bosporus and the creek. This miniature palace, which was built by Sultan Abdülmecid as a hunting lodge, has been converted into a museum. If you climb further up, just past Anadoluhisarı, you reach the Otağtepe region. It is believed that Fatih Sultan Mehmet (the Conqueror) camped in with his soldiers in this region, where one of the most beautiful gardens of Istanbul awaits you. Here, in this nature-loving cultural center, decorated with hundreds of different shades of green and numerous different types of plantation, you will find walking tracks and resting areas, as well as priceless scenery. There was also a cinema museum in Kavacık, which is now a business center. In the museum, which exhibits posters, photographs and equipment, the most interesting item on display is a projector from 1940’s that runs on coal.
Towards the Blacksea
We are now in the Mihrâbâd Woods, on the hills of Kanlıca, where one of the best sceneries of the Bosphorus can be viewed. The bay beneath is crowned by the shadow of the Bosphorus Bridge. İsmail Pasha Woods on the hills opposite is famous for the Khidive Pasha Summer Palace. After breathing in high levels of oxygen on the hills, the famous sweet yogurt sold on the port will be a great reward. İskender Pasha Mosque, which hosts many cafes frequented by many artists from Ahmet Mithat to Barış Manço, is one of the rare samples of the Architect Sinan. After ports of Çubuklu and Paşabahçe, the next stop is Beykoz, famous for its trotter soup. Here, you can visit the houses where Orhan Veli and Ahmet Mithat lived, or pay a visit to Beykoz Woods and Polonezköy, an old Polish immigrant village, dating back to the Ottoman period. Another of the Bosporus villages that is quiet and calm, except for the weekends, is Anadolu Kavağı. Anadolu Kavağı is the last stop that can be accessed via ferryboats. If you say that you have already been to Yoros Castle and the restaurants in its vicinity, Anadolufeneri may be the right choice for you. If you have missed that summer feeling, then the shore that hosts some of the most beautiful beaches on the Anatolian side, such as Poyrazköy, Riva, Şile and Ağva awaits you.