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Seeing and Believing

Kadıköy and Moda

Lovely churches, a lively market, enticing ice cream, shady cafés… and they called this the land of the blind. Andrew Finkel introduces Kadıköy, and Harriet Rix mooches around the district of Moda. Photographs by Monica Fritz

  • Moda tea garden, photographed by Monica Fritz

Kadıköy is the gateway to the Asian shoreline of the Sea of Marmara and a stronghold of secular-minded Istanbullus (writes Andrew Finkel). The main opposition party gets more votes here than anywhere else in the country.

Don’t be put off by the Bosphorus frontage – an example of the municipal authorities’ ability to squander a natural asset. The lattice of back streets leading down to the ferry station, mostly closed to traffic, contains myriad wonderful bookshops, food emporia, confectioners, fish stalls, restaurants, bars, cafés, antique shops, cinemas and theatres – including the newly restored Süreyya Opera House – making it an attractive alternative to Beyoğlu across the water. While Beyoğlu, the city-centre haunt of tourists and transients, has its charms, Kadıköy caters more to people who live nearby. The Nostaljik tramway leads from Kadıköy’s market area to Moda – a fashionable but simultaneously old-fashioned neighbourhood of pretty houses and parks, perched over the Sea of Marmara and the opening to the Bosphorus. Moda is famous for its gentle attractions: ice-cream parlours, tea gardens and comfortable meyhanes.

Kadıköy landings When Greek settlers from Megara in Attica first colonised the shores of the Bosphorus in 685bc (writes Harriet Rix), they chose the site of an ancient Phoenician port near Cape Moda, on the Asian side, to found the city of Chalcedon.

How had they failed to recognise the defensive possibilities of the Golden Horn, the supreme advantages and beauty of Seraglio Point on the opposite shore? Were they blind? Yes, according to the Oracle of Apollo, who foretold the founding of a great city across the water. So it was with Delphic wisdom that, in 667bc, the Megarian King Byzas founded Byzantion on the facing shore, “opposite the blind”. This would become Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine empire from AD326.

Vulnerable Chalcedon was indeed flattened by successive invasions of Persians, Romans, Barbarians and Arabs, but suffered worst of all during occupation by the Crusaders. In 1203 it fell in the Fourth Crusade, and from the “city of the blind” the invaders orchestrated their attacks upon a bigger prize, plainly visible across the strait. In an orgy of violence, vandalism and desecration, Constantinople was sacked in 1204, not to be recaptured until 1261.

So it was not, after all, unassailable, and would be seized by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453, though Chalcedon was captured a full century earlier, and finally became a mere satellite under the jurisdiction of the Sublime Porte, quarried for its stone and renamed Kadıköy, “the village of the judge”. Happily, today’s invaders come in peace to explore the city’s Asian side.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 52

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Issue 52, Spring 2015 Istanbul Unwrapped: Bosphorus Requiem
£15.00 / $19.38 / €17.80
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 52
  • Memories light the corners of my mind

    Maureen Freely goes ‘Bosphorising’ with her father, John Freely, in search of her treasured childhood in Istanbul. Could it be that it was all so simple then?

  • City Bosphorus: the European shore

    Turn your back on the Old City and make for the water. Andrew Finkel takes a drive along the Bosphorus’s lower shore: from the half-abandoned docks of Karaköy, past mammoth cruise ships and hangars for modern art, to the palaces of Beşiktaş and Ortaköy

  • Village Bosphorus: the European shore

    Andrew Finkel extols the charms of a trip up the western, European, shore of the Bosphorus, whether by water or by road

  • City Bosphorus: The Anatolian Shore

    Over 56 pages, we cross the Bosphorus to explore the lower reaches of the Asian shore. Sailing past the ruins of stately Haydarpaşa Station, we land at the busy Kadıköy docks, wander round Moda’s old cosmopolitan backwaters and head upstream to the sparkling hilltop mosques of Üsküdar

  • Village Bosphorus: The Anatolian Shore

    Continuing our tour of Bosphorus villages, we cross back to a more untamed Asian shore. Heading upstream again, we start in Beylerbeyi and Çengelköy, with their grand views of the Old City, and make for the fortress of Anadoluhisari, where the Bosphorus narrows and the yalis are at their most captivating. Our journey ends on the hilltop of Anadolukavağı, with the Black Sea in our sights

  • Earthly Delights: the Humble Potato

    The potato was a latecomer to Turkish cookery, but today it is hard to imagine life without it. The humble spud, the ultimate in comfort food, is endlessly versatile,and also comes packed with goodness. Berrin Torolsan serves up some favourite dishes

  • City of Domes and Dames

    Üsküdar – its history shaped by three powerful queen mothers and a tireless English nurse – has surprises to offer behind its unprepossessing façade: dazzling mosques, villagey tranquillity and epic views…

Good places to stay
Buy the issue
Issue 52, Spring 2015 Istanbul Unwrapped: Bosphorus Requiem
£15.00 / $19.38 / 641.18 TL
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    Deniz Kizi Eftalya, chanteuse

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