Kadıköy, a favorite among Asian siders, has always had a special place in the hearts of Istanbulites for its cultural and art activities, restaurants and cafés, and historical background. Kadıköy is like a central station for most. Even if Kadıköy is not the final destination, taking a boat to the Kadıköy pier is like an excuse to enjoy a brief glimpse of this district for those crossing to the Asian side. And even if you’re not a native of Kadıköy, the district makes you feel at home the moment you get there. Because Kadıköy offers a blend of entertainment and nostalgia for all ages. Each street and venue in Kadıköy has a whole different ambiance. And this beautiful atmosphere is the legacy of the many long years that have passed to date. Here is the story of Kadıköy, the heart of the Asian side, from past to present...
“The Land of the Blind”
The history of Kadıköy dates back thousands of years. So much so that the district is known to have played host to many civilizations in the BC era. According to historical reports, the Phoenicians lived in somewhere around Fikirtepe circa BC 1000 under the name Harhadon. There was also a second area of settlement called Chalcedon, which was located between Moda Burnu and Yoğurtçu neighborhoods of modern Kadıköy. Chalcedon reached enormous fame with its Apollon Temple during its existence. The Byzantine Empire which settled in the Seraglio Point in BC 658 developed an utmost fascination with that place. They were so bewitched by the beauty of the place that they started to describe those settling in Kadıköy, the opposite side, as blinds. Hence Kadıköy was given the names “The Land of the Blind” and “The Country of the Blind”.
Chalcedon becomes Kadıköy following the conquest
Chalcedon was besieged by many for centuries. Yet from 1352 - 1353 it came largely under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Following the conquest of Constantinople, Mehmed the Conqueror gave Chalcedon to Celalzade Hızır Bey, the first Istanbul kadı (judge) known to be the grandson of the Seljuq satirist Nasreddin Hodja’s daughter. And this was how Kadıköy got its name. The mosque built by Hızır Bey in the place of Osmanağa Mosque represents the first building the Ottomans had in the region.
A popular vacation and recreation area in the 19th century...
Kadıköy and its surrounding area became a popular vacation and recreation area for the prominent statesmen in the Roman and Byzantine eras, which was also true Ottoman era, too. Plus, it also served as an important agricultural planting area for the Ottomans. Among the most important meadows and recreationspots were Kuşdişi Deresi, Çamlıca, Acıbadem, Koşuyolu, Haydarpaşa and Fenerbahçe. The territory stretching to Bostancı contained gardens, summer resorts and pavilions belonging to top level statesmen and sultans. The first half of the 19th century witnessed the seasonal use of such places. However, there were also military effects which became apparent with the downfall of the empire. On the other hand, with the start of the ferry service in 1857 Kadıköy also began to be seen as a good spot to settle in. Kadıköy, which was under the administration of the Üsküdar Sanjak in 1869, was given a district status in 1930.
It was on October 6, 1923 when Istanbul and Kadıköy were freed from enemy occupation under the lead of the great leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Seven years from then Kadıköy became a district on March 23, 1930. The district also underwent many reformations following the proclamation of the Republic. The most important among these reforms were the tram journeys that started between Üsküdar and Kısıklı in 1929. Introduction of a development plan in the region paved the way for the district’s population to rapidly increase. Kadıköy piers and the district’s rail hub Haydarpaşa Station became a line of transfer for both Istanbul and the world considering its position connecting the two sides of the city. Following the opening of the Bosphorus Bridge in the 1970s the transportation burden on these hubs were relieved a bit. But Kadıköy’s popularity increased with new waves of migration and development plans in 1980, which in the end added to an already crowded population. Moreover, the introduction of zoning amnesty laws, construction plans and title deed certificates also brought along a building intensity.
Important figures that once lived in Kadıköy
Kadıköy played host to many prominent figures throughout its history. For example, it is known that Theodosius II lived in Kadıköy in the year 446. Built during the reign of Constantine II, his palace in Kadıköy with a striking windmill was notable to many for its legendary beauty. Excavations conducted there revealed thick wall ruins. In addition, it is known that the Greek philosopher Xenocrates, a disciple of Plato, was born in Kadıköy in BC 4. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian and his wife, Theodora, are known to have spent most of their time in their palace in Fenerbahçe. As for the Ottoman era, great monarchs such as Suleiman the Magnificent are also known to have spent summer seasons in a Fenerbahçe palace called Şadırvan Pavilion.
These articles may also be of interest to you:
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The History and Architectural Features of Haydarpaşa Train Station, one of the Symbols of Kadıköy