Istanbul/Asian Side

The Asian Side (Turkish: Asya Yakası) or the Anatolian Side (Anadolu Yakası, which is the more common designation for the area in Turkish) is the half of Istanbul that is on the Asian mainland, east of the Bosphorus.

Understand

"Land of the Blind"

Before setting sail to find a suitable place for a colony, Byzas, the legendary founder of Byzantium, was told by soothsayers that he was going to found new city across the water from the land of the blind. Then, one day, during his pursuit of the new land, he set foot on a beautiful, forested, and easily protectable peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides. On one side, there was a deep and long bay, too, where storms on the open sea had little effect, perfect for a harbor. Looking more carefully, he saw some fishermen inside the bay. After learning that they were from Khalkedon across the Bosphorus, he remembered the prophecy, and convinced that they were indeed ‘the Blind’, who couldn’t see the wonderful site he was standing on and preferred to build their city in a rather inconvenient location instead. Soon thereafter, Byzas laid the first stone of what has become the city of Istanbul, and Chalcedon (today’s Kadıköy) got the nickname ‘the Land of the Blind’.

Kadıköy (ancient Chalcedon) and Üsküdar (ancient Chrysopolis/Scutari) form the historical cores of this part of the city. Both started as cities independent of Istanbul (in fact Khalkedon was founded about 30–40 years earlier than Istanbul itself), and were only incorporated into the city of Istanbul in late 19th century. It’s no coincidence that the regular steamer services across the Bosphorus was started a few years earlier.

Today Kadıköy and Üsküdar are the main commercial zones on the Asian side. The rest of this part of the city contains many soulless suburbs full of high-rise apartment blocks and shopping malls, most of which date back no more than 30 years (which, again, is no coincidence given that the first inter-continental Bosphorus bridge had been constructed a few years before). Major exceptions are the Bosphorus coast, with its historical palaces, mansions, and neighborhoods with character; and the coast of the Sea of Marmara, all along which lies a lovely (and, unsurprisingly, long) park on the edge of which a number of impressive wooden mansion lie.

Known as the less crowded and more orderly half of the city, Asian Side nonetheless houses about 4.4 million people, or one of every three Istanbulites, out of which around 1.3 million commute daily to Europe.

Get in

From outside of Istanbul

By air

Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) is located on Asiatic Side, about 20 km east of Kadıköy. To get to the centre from there, you can take public bus E10 which brings you to Kadıköy in 70 minutes (3 YTL). You can also alternatively take Havaş bus which connects this airport with Taksim in the European Side for 10 YTL. If you can, fly into Sabiha Gökçen rather than Atatürk International, because Sabiha Gökçen is much less busy and easier to navigate.

By train

Haydarpaşa Railway Station

Haydarpaşa Station, Istanbul's main railway station for Asian destinations, is located about 10 min walk away from downtown Kadıköy. Drop by if you are nearby, even if you have no plan to take a train, since the station building, built by the Germans in 1908 in a distinctive Teutonic-castle style, is a sight in itself. It’s rumoured that the architectural style of the building was deliberately chosen, because, in the age of railways, it was the point where passengers from deep inland Asia have their first sight of Europe, located across the Bosphorus. Likewise, Sirkeci station—the main station on the European Side—which has a similar duty for passengers from Europe, has a distinctive Oriental style.

Due to a major project to upgrade the train system so that it can use high-speed trains, as of February 2012 all trains to/from Haydarpaşa have been stopped during construction, until 2014.

By bus

Harem is the name of the major otogar on this side, and the first place of call in Istanbul of many buses from Asian Turkey. It’s located at about the mid-way between Üsküdar and Kadıköy and has frequent ferry links with Eminönü/Sirkeci. There isn’t a great deal there in terms of amenities, so bring a deck of cards or a book if you’re going to need to wait there long.

By boat

Fast ferries from places on the southern coast of the Marmara Sea, such as Yalova or Bandirma are accessible from the pier at Bostancı. Some are direct, while others transfer to a smaller ferry after arriving at Yenikapı pier on the European side. The fast catamarans offer a uniquely smooth and pleasant ride—a great option for coming to or from Yalova, İznik or beyond.

From the rest of Istanbul

By boat

The ferry pier in Kadıköy at night

Taking a liner or a mid-sized boat is the most sensible way of getting to the Asian side from Europe, beating the usually congested traffic on Bosphorus bridges. Major liner piers are located in Kadıköy and Üsküdar. Major liner lines are as follows: (other boats also ply more or less the same routes)

Fast ferries from places further away like Bakırköy are available to Kadıköy (separate from liner pier) or Bostancı pier. But they are much more expensive than liners.

By bus

It’s possible to take a public bus crossing one of Bosphorus bridges, though not advisable during rush hour (7-10AM heading towards Europe, 6-8PM coming back to Asia), when all traffic on the bridges, and especially on the roads leading to them slow to a crawl. Note that all public bus lines crossing the bridges require two tickets (or the equivalent cash) rather than one, with the sole exception of #129L (Levent-Kozyatağı line, which departs from next to 4. Levent metro station and terminates in Kozyatağı, the main business district of Asian Side), though it is of little interest to the average tourist. Numbers of the most useful inter-continental lines are as follows:

The metrobüs (#34A), which connects Edirnekapı just out of old city walls on the European side with Söğütlüçeşme just east of downtown Kadıköy (about 15-20 min away on foot) via Mecidiyeköy and a number of other stations on the way, is a very quick option thanks to its special lanes segregated from all other traffic, except a short section actually on the bridge itself. They are still much better than conventional buses, even on the bridge. Although metrobüs stations are usually a little off the usual tourist trail, they are easily accessible from more central locations by a variety of public transportation, including the metro from Taksim Square for Mecidiyeköy station. #34A is a single-ticket line despite crossing the Bosphorus.

Overland to Üsküdar

In late 19th century, Jules Verne wrote Kéraban-le-têtu (Keraban the Inflexible), in which he depicted a fictional Keraban Agha, a resident of Üsküdar, who was known for his stubbornness. According to the plot, one day when Keraban Agha wanted to take his two Dutch guests to his home from Galata, officials reminded him of a new tax levied by the government: From thenceforth anyone who wished to cross the Bosphorus had to pay a fee of 10 para. Keraban, as obstinate as ever, declined to pay the tax to the government he disapproved of. But still wanting to take his guests to his home across the Bosphorus, he led them there the wrong way: They encircled the whole (~4000 km) coastline of the Black Sea via the present-day Bulgaria, Romania, Crimea, Northern Caucasus, Abkhazia, and northern Turkey. The trio arrived at Keraban’s residence after a 45-day journey.

In December 2008, a group of Turkish artists “repeated” the journey, under the name “In the Footsteps of Jules Verne.” Being forced to arch around Moldova to avoid the conflict zone of Transnistria, and being unable to cross the Russian-Georgian border, as well as running into many other less significant problems at other border crossings, the artists, upon completing their 14-day journey, declared that it was even harder to follow the same route after 125 years.

By dolmuş

There are dolmuş lines operating almost 24 hours a day between Taksim-Kadıköy, and Taksim-Bostancı. They depart from the street next to Atatürk Kültür Merkezi in Taksim Square (opposite edge of the square from Istiklal Street) and cost about TL 5.50/person.

Overland from the European side

See infobox to the right.

Get around

Kadıköy and Üsküdar are the main transport hubs of this part of the city. From both, it is possible to find a direct dolmuş, bus or minibus line to almost anywhere in Asian Istanbul, and also to a lot of places in the European Side. Bostancı on the coast of Marmara Sea is an important secondary hub.

By dolmuş

Dolmuşes ply between Kadıköy-Üsküdar, Kadıköy-Bostancı and Bostancı-Kadıköy until late at night.There are also dolmuşes from Kadıköy to Acıbadem, Koşuyolu and various points.

By train

Suburban trains with frequent departures from Haydarpaşa head to Gebze out of city borders (44 km to Kadıköy), following closely the Marmara sea-shore, calling at Bostancı and a number (well, actually more than 20) of other stations on the way, including Kartal, Pendik, and Tuzla among others. A ticket (jeton) is valid for once and costs about 2,00 TL.

By car

Major roads on the Asian side mostly follow a west-east axis. These are the three major roads which connect Kadıköy with locations east (from south to north): The causeway (Sahil Yolu), which follows the coast of Marmara Sea, Bağdat Avenue (one-way, and that is east to west which means you cannot enter from Kadıköy), and the road colloquially known as Minibüs Yolu. From Üsküdar, the major road colloquially known with its former European road number E-5 lies to east towards depths of Asia, while another road also named Sahil Yolu (Causeway) connects the neighborhoods on the bank of Bosphorus in the north to Üsküdar.

By bicycle

There is a long (more than 20 km with some short interruptions) and marked bicycle lane along the park which lies along the coast of the Sea of Marmara, starting from a few km east of Kadıköy, passing by Bostancı and eventually reaching furthest parts of the city in the east. The bikepath is well-maintained but be careful anyway: Although it’s very unlikely that you’ll come across a motorized vehicle, pedestrians –who aren’t very used to seeing bikepaths in Turkish cities- have just begun to respect the rules of bicycle lanes.

By tram

Between Kadıköy and Moda, the one-way circular traditional tram route offers a pleasant short ride. However, you will likely use it for the experience, rather than as a useful transportation link.

See

Beylerbeyi Palace
Maiden's Tower in the evening
Beylerbeyi port
Yeni Valide mosque
Anadoluhisarı
A street in Kuzguncuk

Do

Buy

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Drink

Kadıköy has a nightlife scene of its own, smaller than Beyoğlu of European Side, but just as lively. From the quay where liners from Eminönü arrives (signed as Eminönü Karaköy İskelesi), first cross the main street, then turn right, from the corner where Starbucks is located, turn left. You’ll come across two churches facing each other; turn right there. On that street and the upper one parallel to it, you’ll find lots of bars (some of which offer live music), pubs, and Turkish taverns. A few blocks uphill from there is the street colloquially known as Barlar Sokağı (Turkish for “Street of Bars”), where there are more places for a drink. If you can’t manage to find that street, ask young people for directions to Rexx Sineması (pronounced rex cinema-suh). That cinema/movie theatre is very near that street, and is widely known.

Sleep

Budget

Mid range

Splurge

Connect

The area code of this half of the city is (+90) 216, which is different from the European Side.

Internet

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, January 14, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.