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 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.
From outside of 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 in the evening
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.
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.
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
A liner approaching Kadıköy jetty. Topkapı Palace
across the Bosphorus can be seen in the background.
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 (separate from liner pier) or Bostancı pier. But they are much more expensive than liners.
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), 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 in 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, though 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.
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.
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.
Metro line M4 operates between Kadiköy and Kartal. Tokens (jeton) can be purchased from automatic token dispensers (called Jetonmatic) at the cost of 3,00 TL.
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.
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.
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.
View of Istanbul from Camlica Hill, at night
Maiden's Tower in the evening
- 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.This avenue had it's name because an Ottoman Sultan,Murat the IVth went to Baghdad from that avenue. 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 separate from dolmuş stop).
- Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayı), Beylerbeyi (north of Üsküdar), ☎ +90 216 321-93-20 (fax: +90 216 321-93-22), . Tu-W F-Su 9:30AM-4PM (Oct-Feb); Tu-W F-Su 9:30AM-5PM (Mar-Sep). Lying under the legs of the Bosphorus Bridge, this beautiful palace located amidst an attractive garden was built between 1861-1865 by Sultan Abdulaziz. Strangely, one of the highligts of the palace is the restroom on its second floor, which has a large window with a full view of Bosphorus—it is possibly the restroom with the most beautiful view in the world! Joining guided tours in major spoken languages which starts every half an hour (or whenever there are enough people waiting) is the only way to visit the palace (no additional fee for tours other than the entry admission).
- 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.
- Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi), Salacak (south of Üsküdar, about 15 min on foot away), ☎ +90 216 342-47-47 ([email protected], fax: +90 216 495-28-85), . Maiden's Tower, also called Leander's Tower, is built on a small islet surrounded by waters of Bosphorus off the Üsküdar coast where you can have breakfast before noon (a standard breakfast costs 35 TL pp), have drinks during day or dine (mid-expensive) inside the tower itself. The Tower is accessible by boats both from Salacak (very frequent intervals four seasons) or from Kabataş in European Side, on the Bosphorus waterfront at the end of the funicular line from Taksim Square (about once every two hours, summers only). Story has it that a powerful emperor built the tower in the middle of the sea to protect his beloved daughter from death after hearing a prophecy told by a fortuneteller, but a snake had found its way to the tower (inside a basket of fruits) and, as you have already guessed, had bitten and killed the princess, although in reality it is far more likely that the place was built as a lighthouse to warn the ships entering the Bosphorus about the rocky islet the tower was built on. 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—much cheaper than the Tower itself. 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.
- Moda. A neighbourhood occupying the peninsula just south of Kadıköy, Moda features some neo-classical architecture and parks on the sides of the peninsula. It is a favourite place for people of Kadıköy of all ages to take a short stroll on a summer evening, and for the youth to enjoy a few beers against the minaret and dome-filled skyline of Old City. To get there, you can follow the waterfront promenade from that big yellow balloon, or take the vintage tram from downtown Kadıköy, though the circular tram line does not make it all the way to tip of the peninsula of Moda.
- As aforementioned, Haydarpaşa Station, built in a turn of 20th century in German style is well worth a look and can be easily walked to from Kadıköy. Further to the north of Haydarpaşa station and a little difficult to find (it is surrounded on three sides by Turkish military barracks) is the British cemetary with an obelisk commemorating the Crimean war and many Crimean war, Victorian era (and later) graves as well as a modern British and Commonwealth war graves cemetary.
- Toy Museum (Oyuncak Müzesi), Ömerpaşa Caddesi, Dr. Zeki Zeren Sokağı 17, Göztepe (5 min walk away from 'Göztepe' station of suburban train line), ☎ +90 216 359-45-50 ([email protected]), . Tu-Su 9:30AM-6PM. Dedicated to toys, this is a museum which adults can enjoy as much as kids. Founded by poet Sunay Akın, the museum is housed in a historical mansion in Göztepe neighbourhood east of Kadıköy. Among the 2,000 pieces of toys from around the world that are in exhibition, the oldest ones are a violin made in France in 1817 and a doll made in the United States in 1820. 8 TL (5 TL for children).
- Anadolu Citadel (Anadolu Hisarı), (in the neighbourhood of Anadolu Hisarı, up on the Bosphorus bank). Interior of the citadel is not open to public. A medieval citadel a little older and much smaller than its European counterpart, situated on the meadow where tranquil Göksu River empties into the Bosphorus, surrounded by picturesque wooden traditional houses.
- Anadolu Kavağı, with its impressive citadel named Yoros 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.
- Caddebostan Beach (Caddebostan Plajı), (at Caddebostan, west of Bostancı, about half an hour's walk from there). Recently opened on the site of a beach existed 40 years ago, before Istanbul became the behemoth it is today. Complete with a (re-created) sandy strand 450 metres long, and a kiosk offering snacks and soft drinks, the beach is run by the city council. Becomes very crowded in summer weekends, though. 10 TL, including the deckchair rent, restrooms, and shower.
- Tarihi Çinili Hamamı, Murat Reis Mahallesi, Çavuşdere Caddesi No. 204, ☎ 0 216 553 15 93 (men) 0 216 334 97 10 (women), . Cheaper then in European side - about 40 liras for full massage and scrub.It can be a little confusing to find its location inside a residential area,ask the locals for the driections.
- 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 TL 3-3.50.
- Çiya Sofrası, Caferağa Mah. Güneşlibahçe Sk. 43, Kadıköy (in the 'Fish Market'), ☎ +90 216 330-31-90 ([email protected], fax: +90 216 349-19-02), . Regional tastes ranging from Balkans to Asia, Caucasus to Mesopotamia, with much delicious kebabs. From €10-15 pp.
- Hatay Restaurant, Bağdat Caddesi 526, Bostancı, ☎ +90 216 361-33-57 (info[email protected]), . 1PM-midnight. A traditional restaurant for tasting Rakı with mezes. Famous amongst Turkish poets. From 20-30 TL.
- Tike Kebap Şaşkınbakkal, Kazım Özalp Caddesi 58, Kadıköy, ☎ +90 216 467-59-14 ([email protected], fax: +90 216 467-52-43), . 1PM-midnight. A luxury traditional restaurant for tasting Turkish kebab on the waterfront avenue (Sahil Yolu). From 30-40 TL/pp. .
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.
- Caddebostan Balans Brau , very nice place for beer(especially own-made weisbier and sausage. On the Bağdat Street.
- Coffee chains around anatolian side (Kadıköy and Bağdat Caddesi) are very popular. Starbucks, Gloria Jean's Coffee, and Kahve Dünyası (especially for Turkish Coffee)
- 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.
- Hotel Suadiye, Plaj Yolu, 25, 34740 Suadiye, +90 216 445 84 24 (fax: +90 216 445 20 02, [email protected]), . A 4 star hotel located on the Sahilyolu,very close to the Bağdat Avenue. Rooms include air-con, TV, safe, wi fi. Rooms range from €150 for 3 persons.
The area code of this half of the city is (+90) 216, which is different from the European Side.
- Cafeinn Internet Cafe, Caferağa Mah. Sarraf Ali Sokak 35/1, Kadıköy (just off Mühürdar Caddesi, the street one block inland from waterfront, parallel to it). Quite good computers though most software is a little outdated, so may not support latest additions, such as some kinds of alphabets/fonts. 2 TL/hr.
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