Asian Side (Turkish: Asya Yakası, or, more usually, Anadolu Yakası, i.e. “Anatolian Side”) is the eastern half of the city of Istanbul, located east of Bosphorus and geographically on the Asian mainland.
"Land of the Blind"
Before setting sail to find a suitable place for a colony, Byzas, 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 the sea from three sides. On one side, there was a deep and long bay, too, where storms of open seas have little effect, perfect for a harbor. Looking more carefully, he saw some fishermen inside the bay. After learning that they are from Khalkedon across the Bosphorus, he remembered the prophecy, and convinced that they were indeed ‘the Blind’, who couldn’t see the wonderful land he was standing on and preferred to build their city in a rather inconvenient location. Soon thereafter, Byzas set the first stone of what has become the city of Istanbul, and Khalkedon (today’s Kadıköy) got the nickname ‘the Land of the Blind’.
Kadıköy (ancient Khalkedon) and Üsküdar (ancient Chrysopolis/Scutari) forms 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 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 mainly commercial zones. The rest of this part of the city mainly consist of soulless suburbs full of quite high-rise apartment blocks, most of which date back no more than 30 years (which, again, is no coincidence that the first inter-continental Bosphorus bridge was constructed a few years before). Major exceptions are the Bosphorus bank, with its historical palaces, mansions, and neighborhoods with a character; and the coast of the Sea of Marmara, all along which lies a lovely (and, unsurprisingly, long) park.
From outside the Istanbul
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 Havas bus which connects this airport with Taksim in the European Side for 10 YTL.
Haydarpaşa Station, which is the main station of Istanbul for Asian destinations is located about 5-10 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 German 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 -main station of European Side- which has a similar duty for passengers from Europe, has a distinctive Oriental style.
Harem is the name of the major otogar of 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.
Fast ferries from places on the southern coast of the Marmara Sea, such as Yalova or Bandirma are available to Bostancı pier. Some are direct, while others transfer to a smaller ferry after arriving at Yenikapı pier of European Side.
From the rest of Istanbul
Taking a liner or a mid-sized boat is the most sensible way of getting to 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 (seperate from liner pier) or Bostancı pier. But they are much more expensive than liners.
Over land to Üsküdar
In late 19th century, Jules Verne wrote Kéraban-La-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 should pay a fee of 10 para. Keraban, as much obstinate as he could be, of course declined to pay the tax to the government he disapproved. But still wanting to take his guests to his home across the Bosphorus, he leaded the wrong way: They encircled the whole (~4000 km) coastline of Black Sea via Bulgaria, Romania, Crimea, Northern Caucasus, Abkhazia, and northern Turkey. The trio arrived at Keraban’s residence after a 45-day jouney.
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 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, artists, upon completing their 14-day journey, declared that it was even harder to follow the same route after 125 years.
It’s possible to take a public bus crossing one of Bosphorus bridges, though not advisable during rush hour (7-10AM towards Europe, 6-8PM towards Asia). Note that all public bus lines crossing the bridges (except a few lines with numbers prefixed with 129) require two tickets (or the equivalent cash) rather than one. Numbers of the most useful inter-continental lines are as follows:
- 110 - Taksim and Beşiktaş to Kadıköy
- 120 - Mecidiyeköy to Kadıköy
- 112 - Taksim and Beşiktaş to Bostancı
- 128 - Mecidiyeköy to Bostancı
- 129T - Taksim and Beşiktaş to Kozyatağı, via the foot of Çamlıca Hill, useful to getting there direct from European Side (single ticket line)
- 34A - "Metrobus" from Zincirlikuyu to Kadıköy-Söğütlüçeşme. - A very fast option to cross the Bosphorous Bridge. Avoid using rushhours(in the morning and evenings)
There are dolmuş lines operating almost 24 hours 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.
Over land from European Side
See infobox to the right.
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 a secondary hub, but an important one nonetheless.
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.
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.
Major roads of 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.
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.
- Beylerbeyi Palace. Lying under the legs of the Bosphorus Bridge, the palace was built between 1861-1865 by Sultan Abdulaziz. Guided tours in major spoken languages available.
- Çamlica Hill— One of the highest hills of Istanbul (268 metres high) and almost all major broadcasting antennas are located on this hill, since the hill dominates a great part of the city. On the top of the hill, a public park with cafes remind the visitors of an Ottoman atmosphere. Thıs public park is sponsored by the government so expect lower prices on food and drink than usual. The cafe located in a building at the top of the hill is moderately expensive, don't worry about it though because you'll get excellent food and service.
View of Istanbul from Camlica Hill, at night
- The Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi)  - A tower on a small islet off the Üsküdar coast where you can drink tea during day or dine (mid-expensive) inside the tower itself. There is also a tour that tells the legend of the maiden where the tower's name comes from. There is also a viewing area on the coast directly opposite the Tower where you can buy tea and sit down to enjoy the beauty of Bosphorus while listening to traditional Turkish music. It is recommended to visit right at sunset, when the sun is reflecting off the water and the Tower's lights are turning on. Also at the viewing area, there are 2-person gondola rides.
- Bağdat Caddesi (Baghdad Avenue), lying parallel with (but a short dinstance away from) the Marmara coast between a few km east of Kadıköy and Bostancı to the east, has nothing to do with Baghdad, Iraq except that, during the Ottoman period, it was the beginning part of the road which connected the capital city, Istanbul with Baghdad, another important city of the empire then. In fact, with its sidewalk cafés, Bağdat Caddesi is usually considered as one of the most European-flavored street of Istanbul nowadays, ironically located on Asia. This street is not completely pedestrianized like the Istiklal Street of the European Side, but its broad sidewalks shaded with trees offer a pleasant walk. The restaurants and cafés on the avenue are mainly upscale, but there are also some quite affordable ones scattered around occasionally. Shopping opportunities also abound. From Kadıköy, take ‘Bostancı’ dolmuş (they depart from near that big yellow balloon) or public bus #4 (its stop is also near the balloon, but seperate from dolmuş stop).
- Anadolu Kavağı, with its impressive citadel on the hill, is the northernmost part of Asian Istanbul, but ironically, easier to get to from European Side. See Istanbul#Get out for more details.
- Yakacık Hill, located in a quite distant part of Asian Istanbul (approximately 20 km east of Bosphorus) in Kartal (ancient Kartalimen) district has a great view of the city. Water springs and the Aydos Hill (537 m), which is the highest point of Istanbul, are the other remarkable destinations in the region of Yakacik.
- İçmeler near Tuzla has the only hot spring in Istanbul.
- Ride the balloon (Turk Balloon) in Kadıköy (easily recognizable by its yellow color on Kadıköy coast). Although it doesn’t stray much away from its base –since it is always tied to the ground by a rope- it offers a view of much of Istanbul –both European and Asian Sides- from a height of 200 meters.
- Istanbul leg of Formula One annually takes place in IstanbulPark , located about 20 km east of Kadıköy. City’s public transport authority (İETT) provides frequent buses from Kadıköy and Bostancı (and a number of locations in European Side as well) during the race days.
- You can do shopping in Kadıköy, Üsküdar and Bağdat Street. The sale (prices %50 off) season for winter is after New Years Day and for summer after July.
- Kanaat Lokantası, Selmanipak Cad. no: 25, Üsküdar (in the street behind the sea dock), ☎ +90 216 341 54 44 (fax: +90 216 341 68 55), . Kanaat Lokantası, which dates back to 1933, is famous for its traditional Ottoman cuisine as well as a variety of fascinating desserts. The prices are reasonable but they accept nothing but cash.
- Şelale Restaurant, Mühürdar Cad. Güneşli Bahçe Sok. No:60, Kadıköy, ☎ +90 216 330 44 20 ([email protected]), . Kebabs and similar stuff. Kebab with yoghurt (İskender) there is tasty and slightly cheaper than elsewhere. from 10 TL.
- Balık-ekmek (literally “fish-bread”, a grilled fish sandwiched inside half a bread) is an increasingly popular low-budget meal in buffets in Kadıköy coast, which can be had for YTL 3-3.50.
Kadıköy has a nightlife scene of its own, smaller than Beyoğlu of European Side, but 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 which direction Rexx Sineması (pronounced racks see-neh-mah-sa) is to young people around. That cinema/movie theater is very near that street, and is widely known.
- Karga, Kadife Sokak 16, Kadıköy (on 'Barlar Sokağı'), ☎ +90 216 449 1725 ([email protected], fax: +90 216 346 5546), . A finely decorated bar situated in a three-storey old building with wooden ceilings and floors. Also has a small yard at the back. 7 TL for a pint (0.50 litre) of beer.
- Hotel Deniz, Gn. Şahap Gürler Cad. No:2, Kadıköy (right across the street from Haydarpaşa Station), ☎ +90 216 348 74 55 ([email protected], fax: +90 216 347 68 67), . Rooms with air-conditioner, TV, en-suite bathrooms. 24-hr room service provided. 130/150/165 YTL single/double/triple rooms.
- Hotel Zirve, Rıhtım Caddesi, Reşitefendi Sokak No:36, Kadıköy, ☎ +90 216 414 51 42, +90 216 414 51 43, +90 216 414 53 04. All rooms have cable tv, wireless internet and are comfortable lodgings at a good price. 55-120 YTL.
- A'jia Hotel, Çubuklu Caddesi No:27, Kanlica, +90 216 413 9300 (fax: +90 216 413 9355, [email protected]), . A unique boutique hotel located on the Asian side of the city facing the beautiful Bosphorus. Rooms include air-con, TV, safe, wi fi. Rooms range from €250-850.
The area code of this half of the city is (+90) 216, which is different from the European Side.
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