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Üsküdar is a large and densely populated municipality (belediye) of Istanbulmarker, Turkeymarker, on the Anatolianmarker shore of the Bosphorusmarker. It is bordered on the north by Beykozmarker, on the east by Ümraniyemarker, on the southeast by Ataşehirmarker, on the south by Kadıköymarker, and on the west by the Bosphorus, with the areas of Beşiktaşmarker, Beyoğlumarker, and Eminönümarker on the opposite shore. It is home to about half a million people. Üsküdar is also the usual name for the historic center of the municipality.


Üsküdar (ancient Greek Chrysopolis (Χρυσόπολις), medieval Scutari(on) (Σκουτάριον)) was a city in Bithynia founded in the 7th century BC, in a valley leading down to the Bosphorus shore, by the inhabitants of the Greek colony of Khalkedonmarker and was first known as Chrysopolis (city of gold), perhaps because it was a wealthy port, or because of the way it shone when viewed from Byzantium at sunset. According to an ancient Greek geographer, the city received the name Chrysopolis because the Persian empire had a gold depository there or because it was associated with Agamemnon and Chryseis' son Chryses. An eighteenth-century writer speculated that it received the name because of the excellence of its harbor. The city was used as a harbor and shipyard and was an important staging post in the wars between the Greeks and Persians. In 410 BC Chrysopolis was walled by the Athenian general Alcibiades.

As its larger and more important neighbor across the Bosphorus grew, the town became a toll-booth for the Bosphorus and later became the first point of defense of Byzantium against the Ottoman armies. The name Skutarion came from the Byzantine soldiers stationed there, who were known for their thick leather shields (skutari). To no avail, however; by the time Constantinople was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453, Üsküdar had already been in Turkish hands for 100 years.

In the Ottoman period Üsküdar was one of the three communities outside the city walls of Constantinople (along with Eyüpmarker and Galatamarker). The area was a major burial ground, and today many large cemeteries remain, including Karacaahmet Mezarlığı, Bülbülderesi Mezarlığı, and a number of Jewish and Christian cemeteries. Karacaahmet Mezarlığı is one of Istanbul's largest cemeteries. Bülbülderesi Mezarlığı is said to be the favored burial place of the Sabetay community, including the educator Şemsi Efendi; this cemetery is next to Fevziye Hatun mosque, also said to be a center of Sabetay culture.

Üsküdar today

The waterfront of Üsküdar as seen from Maiden Tower.

The district of Üsküdar is Istanbul's oldest-established residential suburb and still fills that role today. It has a more relaxed atmosphere and therefore better quality of life than the overcrowded European side of the city, yet is directly opposite the old city of Eminönümarker and transport across the Bosphorus is easy by boat or bridge. So there are well-established communities here, many retired people, and many residents commute to the European side for work or school (being cheap and central Üsküdar has a large student population). During the rush-hour, the waterfront is bustling with people running from ferryboats and motorboats onto buses and minibuses. Üsküdar also has the smell of the sea, the sound of foghorns, motorboats and seagulls and one of the best views of the city.

Central Üsküdar on a snowy day, with Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in the background
As of 2006, the central square is being dug up for a tunnel under the Bosphorus which will carry an underground railway. However, this is predictably continuously running into artefacts of great archaeological value.

The area behind the ferry dock is a busy shopping district, with many restaurants (including the well-known Kanaat Lokantasi serving Ottoman cuisine, olive oil-based dishes, and ice cream) and a number of important Ottoman mosques (see section below). There is, however, a need for more in the way of cafes, cinemas, billiard halls and places for young people to hang out.

The private Istanbul Commerce University, owned by the chamber of commerce, has a site here.


Ahmet III Fountain in the square

Üsküdar is a municipality within Greater Istanbul (büyükşehir). The municipality is subdivided into neighborhoods (mahalleler). The boundaries and names of the official neighborhoods change from time to time and sometimes do not correspond to historically recognized neighborhoods or to residents' own perceptions.

The most prominent neighborhood is Üsküdar's historic center (merkez), centered on the ferry docks and roughly corresponding to the current Mimar Sinan neighborhood (former Selmanağa, Tembel Hacı Mehmet, and İnkılap neighborhoods). This area includes large historic mosques, many businesses and markets, and is a transportation hub.

Other prominent neighborhoods include the former villages on the Bosphorus to the north of the historic center, Kuzguncuk, Beylerbeyi, Çengelköy, Kuleli, Vaniköy (now part of Kandilli), and Kandilli; the neighborhoods along the Bosphorus shore south of the historic center, Salacakmarker, Harem (now part of Aziz Mahmud Hudayı), and Selimiye; and the mostly residential neighborhoods on the hilltops and hillsides, Doğancılar (now mostly part of Aziz Mahmud Hudayı), İmrahor (now part of Salacak), Selamsız (now part of Selamiali), Bağlarbaşı (now part of Altunizade), Altunizade, Acıbadem, Küçük Çamlıca, and Büyük Çamlıca (mostly in Kısıklı, Burhaniye, and Ferah).


Üsküdar's long promenade along the coast from the center down in southern direction towards the bus station at Harem is popular in summer as it commands excellent views of the European shore of Topkapı Palacemarker, Aya Sofyamarker, Sultan Ahmed Mosquemarker (The Blue Mosquemarker), Taksim and Beşiktaşmarker. This promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants, the most famous and prominent of which is not on the coast but out in the water: Kız Kulesi marker, a small tower just off the coast that has existed since Byzantine times. From time to time it has been used as a toll booth; now it is used as an upscale restaurant and a venue for wedding parties. The name comes from a legend about a princess shut in the tower.

On nice days people gather on the shore to fish, sit and drink tea or to enjoy being out on the water in little rowing boats. There is a more recent mosque (1760) on the shore opposite the tower. The streets of Salacak behind the coast, in the area called Imrahor, are attractive and still hold a number of classic Ottoman wooden houses. The legendary 17th century Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi is said to have landed here on his hang-glider flight across the Bosphorus.

The area was excellently portrayed in the cartoons of comic artist Tekin Aral in his book 'Salacak Öyküleri' [43643]

Further down along the coast is the Harem neighborhood, which contains a major intercity bus terminal and the Selimiye Barracksmarker where Florence Nightingale once tended wounded British soldiers.

Behind the coast, towards the east, Üsküdar climbs steeply into the residential areas uphill, Bağlarbaşı and Doğancılar.


A pleasant district on the hill above Salacak, with plenty of trees between the buildings and a small park. There is a wide avenue winding uphill from Üsküdar which has plenty of shops and cafes, and also a theater (the Musahipzade Celal Sahnesi), the fire station, the women's prison (Paşakapısı), Burhan Felek High School and Doğancılar mosque (opposite the park).

Bağlarbaşı and Altunizade

Formerly orchards and fruit-gardens (the meaning of bağ in Turkish). In the 19th century it became a residential neighborhood, home to the typical Istanbul urban mix of Greeks, Jews, Turks, and Armenians. The neighborhood still has an Armenian school and the Armenian church of Surp Garabed, built in 1844. This community suffered in the anti-Christian violence of September 6, 1955, Istanbul Pogrom and many Greeks and Armenians left. Until the 1990s the area remained a middle-class residential neighborhood, and today is still an attractive district with a mixture of housing and office/commercial property. A number of properties have been converted to office and business use. Bağlarbaşı is still an attractive residential neighborhood, home to the large and busy Capitol shopping and entertainment center.

There are a number of well-known schools here including Üsküdar American Academymarker, one of the oldest established schools in the city (formerly the American Academy for Girls) ; Üsküdar High School, a state school with an intensive German language program ; Haydarpasha High School ; Marmara University's faculty of theology ; and Burhan Felek sports complex.


Selamsızmarker is an old residential neighborhood, home to a Roma (Gypsy) community and Roma culture.


The top half of the attractive district of Acıbadem also belongs to Üsküdar, including the excellent Acıbadem and Academic hospitals. This avenue with its wonderful patisseries, ice-cream parlors and cafes as well as Burger King and 7-Eleven is the center one of the most pleasant neighborhoods of Istanbul, consisting of tree-lined streets and well-planned housing areas, as well as Çamlıca Girls High School set in a lovely tree-lined garden.

Up the Bosphorus

The boundary of the municipality of Üsküdar is far up the Bosphorus, and beyond lies Beykozmarker. The Bosphorus is among the more beautiful features of Istanbul. However, going up the Bosphorus from Üsküdar on the Anatolian side it is hard to find places to sit and enjoy the view; the coastal strip is either too narrow or is built on.

Üsküdar's up-north Bosphorus villages include:


Just past Üsküdar the coastline is called Paşalimanı. Liman means "port" in Turkish and boats would moor here. There is a big stone warehouse on the shore (formerly used to store tobacco), which was built by late-Ottoman architect Vedat Tek. There is a small area of parkland right on the shore and the entrance to the large Fetih Paşa Korusu park is here.


A Bosphorus village of streets with little shops, seaside cafes, and many old-fashioned wooden houses, Kuzguncukmarker has a village atmosphere. There is a ferry dock and a little park on the waterfront. The village was called Kosinitsa in the Byzantine period and until recently the people of Kuzguncuk were the typical Istanbul cosmopolitan mixture of Turks, Greeks, Jews, and Armenians. Today some of these communities remain and the area has become an attractive middle-class neighborhood, home to people like film director Uğur Yücel, sculptor Kuzgun Acar, painter Acar Başkut (whose studio is in the village), architects Nevzat Sayin and Cengiz Bektaş, and the late poet Can Yücel. The neighborhood is also portrayed in the novel Mediterranean Waltz (Kumral Ada Mavi Tuna) by Buket Uzuner.


Just beyond the Bosphorus bridge is Beylerbeyimarker, an area famous in Istanbul for its fish restaurants, and for the Ottoman palace on the shore. The Sabancı family of Turkish industrialists have sponsored the restoration and building of the school, police station and other public buildings, thus making them appropriate to the many very attractive houses and shops in the village.


Formerly a quiet waterfront village, famous for the cucumbers grown in gardens on the green hillsides behind. There are a number of very grand seaside villas (yalı). The village has a number of shops, bakeries and waterfront cafes offering gorgeous views of the Bosphorus that tend to be busy, especially at weekends. Since the mid-1990s new housing estates have been built on the hillsides and now there are always queues of traffic through Çengelköy. But the village retains some of its romantic charm. The word çengel means "hook" or "anchor" in Turkish while köy means "village"; apparently there were blacksmiths or metalworkers in the village in Ottoman times.

The highly prestigious Kuleli Military High School is on the Bosphorus just beyond Çengelköy. Most graduates from here go on to military academy and careers as army officers.

Inland from the center of Üsküdar


This hill, known as Tchamlidja in 19th-century spelling, has the highest point in Istanbul and commands a panoramic view of the entire city.

Sights of Üsküdar

Though densely populated, Üsküdar has many areas of greenery, including the Çamlıca hills, the Bosphorus coastline, and various parks. In addition, the area has a high concentration of historic buildings and religious sites.


Fethi Paşa Korusumarker is a large park on the hillside coming right down to the Bosphorus shore slightly beyond Üsküdar in the area called Paşalimanı. It is named after Fetih Ahmet Paşa an Ottoman prince who among other things was responsible for industrializing the glassworks of Ottoman Turkey, and had a home in the area. The parkland is in fact privately owned and let to the state on condition that it is preserved as a park. The owners are the estate of pioneer Turkish industrialist Nuri Demirağ. There is a cafe in the park, a stone waterfall which children climb on and a small stage area where on Friday evenings in summer a band of amateur musicians give open-air concerts at sunset. At weekends the young lovers of Üsküdar collect here to stroll and cuddle in the shade.


Üsküdar is home to over 180 mosques, many of them historic Ottoman buildings, many built for women of the imperial harem, and many built by the famous architect Mimar Sinan. Among the first things one sees on arriving by ferry are the two mosques on either side of the ferry port, both designed by Sinan. The larger one is the Mihrimah Sultan Mosquemarker, sometimes called the İskele (Dock) Mosque, built by a daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent; the smaller one is the Şemsi Pasha Mosquemarker, built by a vizier of Suleiman's. Şemsi Pasha has a small library building in the courtyard where one can sit and enjoy the sea breeze off the Bosphorus.

A little further inland between the fountain of Ahmet III and the Şemsi Pasha Mosque is the large Yeni Valide Mosquemarker, built by Ahmet III's mother. Uphill from the dock in the Valideiatik neighborhood is the Atik Valide Mosque, built by Murat III's mother and also designed by Sinan. Further uphill from there is the smaller Çinili (Tiled) Mosque. In Karacaahmet Cemeterymarker is the large Şakirin Mosquemarker, built in 2009.

Other important mosques of Üsküdar include Ahmediye, Ahmet Ağa, Ahmet Çelebi, Altunizade, Ayazma, Aziz Mahmut Hudai, Baki Efendi, Beylerbeyi, Bodrumi Ömer Lütfi Efendi, Bostancı, Bulgurlu, Çakırcıbaşı, Fatih, Gülfem Hatun, Hacı Ömer, İmrahor, İranlılar, İstavroz, Kandilli, Kara Davut Pasha, Kaymak Mustafa Pasha, Kısıklı, Küleli Bahçe, Malatyalı İsmail Ağa, Mirzazade, Paşalimanı, Rum Mehmet Pasha, Selimiye, Solak Sinan, Tahır Efendi, Üryanizade, and Vanikoy.


Churches of Üsküdar include the İlya Profiti (Prophet Elijah) Greek Orthodox Church in Murat Reis (present building built 1831), the Surp Garabet (Saint John the Baptist) Armenian Church in Murat Reis (first church on the site, 1590; present building built 1888), the Surp Haç (Holy Cross) Armenian Church in Selami Ali (built 1676, rebuilt 1880), the Surp Krikor Lusavoriç (Saint Gregory the Illuminator) Armenian Church in Kuzguncuk (first built 1835, rebuilt 1861), and the Surp Yergodasan Arakelots (Twelve Apostoles) Armenian Church in Kandilli (built 1846).


Synagogues of Üsküdar include Bet Yaakov (built 1878) and Bet Nissim (built in the 1840s).

Other religious buildings

Important tekkes (dervish lodges) include the Aziz Mahmud Hudayi Tekke (Aziz Mahmud Hudayi (1541-1628), who is buried in Üsküdar was the founder of the Jelveti Sufi order) ; the Nasuhi Efendi Tekke (Nasuhi Efendi was the founder of the Nasuhiyye Khalwati Sufi order and the grandfather of the American music producer Ahmet Ertegun; and the Özbekler Tekkesi.

Important tombs in Üsküdar include those of Aziz Mahmud Hudayi, Hacı Ahmet Pasha, Halil Pasha, İbrahim Edhem Pasha, Karaca Ahmet, and Rum Mehmet Pasha.

Çeşmes and sebils

Other notable Ottoman features to be seen in Üsküdar are the many çeşmes (drinking water sources) and sebils (kiosks for distribution of drinks). One of the largest and most visible çeşmes is the fountain of Ahmet III (1728-29), an impressive marble structure in the center of Üsküdar near the ferry docks.

Other important çeşmes of Üsküdar include Gülnuş Emetullah Valide Sultan (1709, next to the Yeni Valide Mosque), Hüseyin Avni Pasha (1874, Paşalimanı), Mustafa III (1760, next to the Ayazma Mosque), and Selim III (1802, in Çiçekçi, Harem İskelesi Street).

Important sebils of Üsküdar include those of Hacı Hüseyin Pasha (1865, near the Karacaahmet Cemetery), Halil Pasha (1617, attached to Halil Pasha's tomb), Hudayi (first built in the 1590s but later much remodeled, near Aziz Mahmud Hudayi's tomb), Sadettin Efendi (1741, near the tomb of Karacaahmet Cemetery), Şeyhülislam Arif Hikmet Bey (1858, near the Kartal Baba Mosque), Valide Çinili (1640, next to the Çinili Mosque), Valide-i Cedid (1709, next to the Yeni Valide Mosque), and Ziya Bey (1866, near the tomb of Karacaahmet).


The Florence Nightingale Museum inside the Selimiye Barracksmarker in Selimiye displays items associated with Nightingale and her medical work in Istanbul during the Crimean War. The Beylerbeyi Palacemarker Museum in Beylerbeyimarker shows the palace built for Abdülaziz in the 1860s.

External links


  1. William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. "Chrysopolis." 1854.
  2. François Sabbathier. Dictionnaire pour l'intelligence des auteurs classiques, grecs et latins: tants sacrés que profanes, contenant la géographie, l'histoire, la fable, et les antiquités. 1772. Volume 11, page 135.
  3. Hürel, 324.
  4. Soner Yalçın. Efendi.
  5. Üsküdar Müftülüğü. Üsküdar Müftülüğüne Bağlı Camiler Listesi. Retrieved 10 August 2009
  6. Üsküdar Belediyesi. Kiliseler. Retrieved 14 August 2009
  7. Tuğlacı, pages 121-129, 169-171, 194.
  8. Türkiye Hahambaşılığı (Chief Rabbinate).Synagogues: Asian Side of the Bosphorus. 2005. Retrieved 14 August 2009
  9. T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı. İstanbul Çeşmelerinden Örnekler. 2005. Retrieved 10 August 2009
  10. Üsküdar Belediyesi. Tarihi Mekanlar. Retrieved 10 August 2009

Printed Sources

  • (First published 1938)

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