- What’s On
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Leaving the city on the Asian shore, this section begins in Beylerbeyi in the shadow of the First Bosphorus Bridge, and continues all the way to Anadolukavağı at the top of the Bosphorus by the Black Sea (see Cornucopia 12, now one of four Black Sea issues in a special collector's offer).
The Asian side catches the sunset and some of the finest yalıs are here, many of which have been explored in the pages of Cornucopia, and summed up Bosphorus Requiem, issue 52. They begin in Kuzguncuk, just downstream of the First Bosphorus Bridge (see City Bosphorus) and culminate in Anadoluhisarı and Kanlıca, halfway to the Black Sea, where the strait is at its narrowest. Beylerbeyi Palace is often overlooked but completes any tour of the 19th-century royal residences.
As you continue along the coast, the urban atmosphere gives way to village life more quickly than on the European side. Watching the sun go down behind the new sky scrapers from the iskele tea garden in Cengelköy, you'll be grateful you escaped the rush. Sumahan on the Water, described in Cornucopia 34, is a magical hotel created here from an old distillery. Then comes the twin-towered Kuleli Military Academic. Above the two castles of the Hisars, Rumeli and Anadolu, and the Fatih Sultan Mehmed bridge, is even less visited, an antidote to Istanbul’s hustle and bustle (provided you are not stuck in slow-moving weekend traffic).
Some of the prettiest rows of yalıs can be found between Anadolu Hisarı and the upper end of Kanlıca, where the straights are particularly deep. The Küçüksu Kasrı is the grand 19th-century Ottoman palace in a nutshell. The Khedive’s palace is an eccentric foible. A favourite walk is from the iskele in Anadolukavağı to the ruined Genoese castle above – at your feet is the entrance to the Black Sea. If you hire a boat, ask your boatman to switch off the engine a little downstream from Anadolukavağı, and listen to the nightingales. The sea can be particularly inviting here.
The attractions of the Old City and the distractions of the New mean that too few visitors venture across the Bosphorus to Asia, and many of those that do will head to Kadıköy. But the Asian shore really is another world and deserves at least an afternoon. The Ottomans used to retreat here and fine classical mosques abound in Uskudar. Interstingly, many were built under the patronage of the powerful Ottoman women. The Beylerbeyi Palace is often overlooked but completes any tour of the 19th Century royal residences. As you continue along the coast the urban atmosphere gives way to village life more quickly than on the European side. Watching the sun go down behind the new sky scrapers from the iskele tea garden in Cengelköy, you’ll be grateful you escaped the rush.
Above the two Hisars, Rumeli and Anadolu, and the Fatih Sultan Mehmed bridge, is even less visited, a perfect antidote to Istanbul’s hustle and bustle. Some of the prettiest rows of yalıs can be found between Anadolu Hisarı and the upper end of Kanlıca, where the straights are particularly deep. The Küçüksu Kasrı is the grand 19th-century Ottoman palace in a nutshell. The Khedive’s palace an eccentric foible. A favourite walk is from the iskele in Anadolu Kavağı to the ruined Genoese castle above – the entrance to the Black Sea is at your feet. If you hire a boat, get your boatman to switch off the engine a little downstream from Anadolukavağı and listen to the nightingales. The sea is usually (but not always), inviting here.
There are buses and minibuses up and down the European shore, that, if you are not sitting down, enable you to discover muscles in your legs and arms (hang on for dear life) you never knew were there.
Hire a boat, easily done from Anadolu Hisarı, and dawdle. There are scheduled boats from between Istiniye and Anadolu Hisarı. Kanlıca also has an informal motor service, and between Beykoz and Yeniköy a motor service runs every 20 minutes. But one of the best things that has happened in the Bosphorus is the municipality’s inspired revival of a proper boat service. The timetable is not quite as intuitive as it could be, largely because it is a mix of age-old routes that have their own categories and new ones. https://www.sehirhatlari.istanbul/en/timetables/, head for Domestic Routes > Bosphorus lines. It is worth bearing in mind that each side of the Bosphorus has its own route, as well as lots of boats that go back and forth. For an Anatolian shore tour, you can get on a boat in Üsküdar and go all the way to Beykoz. Unfortunately, it is still fairly commuter-conscious, so there are precious few boats in the middle of the day. But in short, it is worth studying the boat timetables.
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