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Kadıköy (known as Chalcedon in antiquity) is a large and populous cosmopolitan district on the Anatolian side of İstanbul, on the shore of the Sea of Marmara, facing the historic city center on the other (European) side of the Bosphorus. Kadıköy is a residential and commercial district, and with its numerous bars, cinemas and bookshops, is the cultural centre of the Anatolian side. It became a district in 1928 by secession from Üsküdar. Also, quarters of İçerenköy, Bostancı, Kadıköy and Suadiye separated from Kartal in same year. Its neighbours are Üsküdar and Ümraniye the north, Kartal the northeast and Maltepe the east.
Kadıköy is an older settlement than the European side of the city of Istanbul. Relics have been found going back to 5500-3500 BC (Chalcolithic period) at the Fikirtepe Mound, and articles of stone, bone, ceramic, jewelry and bronze prove a continuous settlement since prehistoric times. A port settlement dating from the Phoenicians has also been discovered. Chalcedon (Kadıköy) was the first settlement which the Greeks from Megara established on the Bosphorus, in 685 BC, a few years before they established Byzantion on the other side of the strait, in 667 BC. Chalcedon became known as the 'city of the blind', the story being that Byzantium was founded following a prophecy that a great capital would be built 'opposite the city of the blind' (meaning that the people of Chalcedon must have been blind not to see the obvious value of the peninsula on the Golden Horn as a natural defensive harbour). And true enough, Chalcedon changed hands time and time again, as Persians, Bithynians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders and Turks passed through the area, which was badly damaged during the riotous Fourth Crusade and eventually passed into Ottoman hands in 1353, a full hundred years before Istanbul (Constantinople) was conquered. Thus, Kadıköy has the oldest mosque in Istanbul, which was built almost a century before the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
At the time of the conquest, Chalcedon was a rural settlement outside the protection of the city. It was soon put under the jurisdiction of the Istanbul courts, hence the name Kadıköy, which means Village of the Judge. In the Ottoman period, Kadıköy became a popular market for agricultural goods and in time developed into a residential area for people who would commute to the city by boat. The population was the typical Ottoman Istanbul mix of Armenians, Greeks, Jews and Turks. Kadıköy has several churches (Greek, Armenian, Serbian, Catholic, Protestant) and synagogues.
Living in Kadıköy today
The centre of Kadıköy today is the hub of traffic for people commuting from the Asian side of the city to the European side across the Bosphorus. There is a big bus and minibus terminal next to the ferry docks, while the main train terminus for trains to Anatolia and the nearby Harem Bus Terminal have coach services to Anatolia.
But it is the ferry-boats that are most important, and the central market area of Kadıköy is right behind the ferry dock. The main road by the docks is unfortunately the least attractive part of Kadıköy: a busy road, crowded with buses, dolmuş, and honking taxis, while the buildings are often huge grey office blocks with billboards and business signs plastered all over them, surrounded by beggars, hawkers and shoeshiners everywhere. There is a helium balloon moored on the shore which will take you up to an altitude of 200m for a great panoramic view of the area, and indeed the city of Istanbul across the Bosphorus.
This is a very busy shopping district, with a great variety of atmosphere and architectural styles, tiny narrow alleyways and shopping arcades, pavements crowded with tough-looking street vendors selling everything from socks to pirate copies of popular novels, classy avenues like the pedestrianised Bahariye Caddesi, and shiny modern shopping centres, especially the huge Carrefour Nautilus Shopping Mall right behind the centrum of Kadıköy. In the streets behind the main post office, there are a large number of well-known bookshops selling both new and second-hand books, craft-shops and picture-framers, and a number of shops selling music CDs and related ephemera (like film posters and T-shirts). Hard Rock and Heavy Metal fans come to the arcade called Akmar Pasajı to buy items like Heavy Metal T-shirts, rare Heavy Metal albums of alternative bands, and silver jewelry with Heavy Metal themes. On Sundays the whole area turns into a big second-hand book and music street market. Being a crowded shopping district, Kadıköy has its share of buskers, shoe shine boys, glue sniffers and schoolchildren in the streets selling flowers, chewing gum and packets of tissues, or just begging.
There is plenty of residential property in the centre of Kadıköy, mostly aging now, and working class, but you can still find quiet suburban streets. The area is home to many students as well as a small number of foreign residents.
At the top of the shopping district there is an intersection, with a statue of a bull on it, called Altıyol (Six Ways), where a road leads to the civic buildings and a huge street market called Salı Pazarı (Tuesday Market). The working-class residential districts of Hasanpaşa and Fikirtepe are located behind the civic buildings.
Marmara University has most of its buildings in Kadıköy, including the large and elegant Haydarpaşa Campus, while the largest private university in Istanbul, Yeditepe University, is located on the hill named Kayışdağı at the easternmost edge of the borough of Kadıköy. In the centre of Kadıköy's shopping district there is an important basketball arena, the Caferağa Spor Salonu.
The major Haydarpaşa Terminal of the Turkish State Railways is located close to Kadıköy's centrum, serving east- and south-bound international, domestic and regional trains. Haydarpaşa Terminal was opened in 1908 as the terminus of the Istanbul-Baghdad and Istanbul-Damascus-Medina railways.
The smart residential areas beyond Kadıköy itself
Further down the coast, away from the centrum of Kadıköy, there are many expensive shops and the area goes more upmarket in neighbourhoods such as Moda and Fenerbahçe, which are attractive, old-established residential areas. Both of them are within the bounds of the borough of Kadıköy, and offer many restaurants, cafés and bars to sit by the sea and have something to eat or drink, or just sit and chat with friends while watching the sun as it sets behind the old city of Istanbul. There is a nice walk in this direction along the sea-front from Kadıköy, where young people come to sit by the sea and drink beer, or take the tram up to Moda from Kadıköy.
Moda is an old-established, quiet, cosmpolitan Istanbul neighbourhood, but is getting a little tired now, with not enough car parking and some run-down shops and buildings. Like so much of Istanbul, too many historic houses have been pulled down and replaced with apartment buildings; but still, Moda is one of the most pleasant residential districts in the city. There are still numerous churches in Moda with active congregations, and well-known schools, such as the Lycée Saint-Joseph and Kadıköy Anadolu Lisesi. There is an attractive little theatre in Moda named Oyun Atölyesi, founded by the former (BBC soap opera) Eastenders actor Haluk Bilginer.
Another smart new district is Acıbadem, home to one of the best-known private hospitals in the city and a long avenue of smart cafés, restaurants and ice cream parlours serving the residents of the tidy streets in the district.
Beyond this area, the huge stadium of Fenerbahçe football club dominates the skyline and then begins the long and impressive shopping street of Bağdat Avenue and the posh neighbourhoods between the avenue and the coastal road. Until the 1950s these areas, such as Kalamış, Göztepe, Caddebostan, Erenköy, and Suadiye, were full of summer houses and mansions for the city's wealthy and upper middle class. Since the Bosphorus Bridge was built, it is possible to commute from here to the European side, and most of these summer houses have been pulled down and replaced with modern apartment buildings; but still, these districts are among the most beautiful residential areas of the city. The coast here is very attractive, with a long stretch of seaside parks, yacht marinas, and the streets behind the coast (in areas like Caddebostan) are lined with numerous bars and cafés.
From Bostancı onwards the quality of housing gets progressively worse as you go further away from the city, where the glitzy business families merge into neighbourhoods of retired and working-class families. There are no more villas, apart from those on the coast of Dragos, and the apartment buildings are narrower and more closely crowded together. Bostancı itself is a busy shopping district built around a railway station.