Cornucopia’s travel guide

Downtown Istanbul (the Anatolian side)


The city spreads out across the Asian side, which has an independent streak. Just as full of interest as Istanbul's better-known European half, its treasures run from Moda's tea gardens overlooking the mouth of the Bosphorus to Üsküdar's glittering hilltop mosques, including the 21st century Şkirin and Sinan's twin waterside mosques, the gateway to Asia. To the south is  Kadoköy, gateway to the Sea of Marmara into which the Bosphrus flows, heading for the Dardanelles and the Aegean. To the south is Karaküoy where histoory runs deep: the Phonecians had a port at Moda, the Greeks created the city of Chalcedon and the crusaders used it as a base for their erciless attack on Christian Constantinople. Hydarpaşa Station, the handsome stop on the Berlin-to-Baghdad railway is now a ruin but in the narrow streets behind are some wonderful time-honoured shops including the Baylan and Hacı Bekir pattisseris and bakers in Muvakkithane. The great food of the district is revealed by Andrew Finkel in his article in a Cornucopia 52, and the bounteous fish to be tried are described by Berrin Torolsan in Cornucopia 32, now a rare collector's item. Apartments built for German and Itlaian workers on the Hydarpaşa station give an historic feel to little-known Yeldeğirmeni, while British visitors might remember Florence Nightingale and the hospital at Scutari (Üsküdar), and head for the English Cemetery where victims of Crimea lie.

Getting there

Ferries from Karaköy, Eminönü and Beşiktaş – especially beautiful at sunset or dawn. Dolmuşes run to and from Taksim late at night, when racing over the Bosphorus bridge is great fun.

1Üsküdar

Facing old Istanbul across the straits, Üsküdar, known to the West as Scutari, is a conservative old town with some absolute gems of Ottoman architecture, which the authorities of the day do their best to obscure!

2Kadıköy

Kadiköy is the gateway to the Asian shoreline of the Sea of Marmara and a stronghold of secular-minded Istanbullus. A lattice of backstreets leading to the ferry contains wonderful bookshops, food emporia, fish stalls, cinemas and the newly restored Süureyya opera house.


3Moda

Moda is a European residential quarter of 1920s/1930s vintage, now  overlayed with featureless 70s. The view across Moda bay and the mouth of the Bosphorus is to travel for, and good ice cream.


4Bağdat Caddesi

This affluent boulevard is all laid-back fun with smart shops, loads of pavement cafés, and not alot for the culture vulture, except for a grand Toy Museum and the knowledge that this was the best place in the world to live circa 1900.


5The Princes Islands

A curious archipelago adrift off the Asian shore, miraculously preserved so far, but oh so fragile. The Islands, as they are called, make a memorable out-of-season day out from the city.

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