Among the daily bustle of the workers in the colorful salt smelling fish market of the Kadikoy Carsi or inside the photogenic bright red T3 tram leading to the elite luxury side of Kadikoy, Moda (which literally translates into ‘fashion’ in the English language), is where you truly see the real soul of the city.
Haydarpaşa Terminal is one of the most remarkable landmarks in Kadıköy and also stands as one of the symbols of the modernisation efforts initiated in the last periods of the Ottoman Empire. It is also without doubt the most famous railway terminal in Turkey. It was inaugurated in 1872, one year after Sultan Abdülaziz ordered the construction of a railway relying İstanbul and İzmit in order to satisfy the imperial city’s need for a railway connection which would boost its connection both to the interior parts of the empire and to Europe, whose developments in many spheres was needed for the Ottoman reformers in order to modernise the crumbling empire. The terminal was greatly expanded and renovated by German and Italian architects in the beginning of the 20th century after it was decided as the terminal point of Hejaz and Baghdad railways, both of which were constructed by Germans. The new building was inaugurated on November 4 1909. After the Ottoman defeat in the First World War the building came under British control, and following the Turkish nationalist victory and the subsequent declaration of Republic in 1923, in 1927 the Terminal was taken over by the Turkish government alongside the Anatolian Railways, the company responsible for a significant part of the railway transport in the former Ottoman Empire. In following years the railway lines reaching Turkey’s eastern neighbours Iran and Iraq were also constructed, both beginning from Haydarpaşa. As of today, the train services operating from Haydarpaşa are out of service due to the ongoing improvement works in the Terminal.
Another distinct landmark in Kadıköy is the Bull Statue, one of a pair of the same statue whose other twin is situated in the garden of the Beylerbeyi Palace. It was constructed in 1864 by French sculptor Isidore Bonheuvre for commemorating the victory attained by the French army over the German army. In 1870, after the Prussian (German) victory over the French, it was taken from France and brought to Germany, where it stayed until 1917 when it was offered by the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II to Enver Paşa, the strongman of the Ottoman Empire and Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Army during the First World War as a token of the political and military alliance between Germany and Ottoman Empire during the ongoing First World War. The statue, which has changed places several times during the republican era, was finally installed in early 1990s. Today, it is arguably one of the landmarks most deeply associated with Kadıköy in the minds of its residents, and serves as a meeting place for many people spending their time in the district.
The Assumption Church is noteworthy for being the biggest church in the area. According to different rumours, it was built either on the request the French or by the Italian Brentano family, who also had a lodge inside the church. The building was constructed by the Italian architect Giovanni Barberini and is home to religious services offered in both Turkish and French languages in all the days of the week.
Süreyya Opera Building
Probably the most important cultural building is the Süreyya Opera Building. Its construction started in 1924 thorough the efforts of Süreyya İlmen Paşa at the most beautiful point of the famous Bahariye Street, and was inaugurated in 1927. The main purpose of Süreyya İlmen in initiating the construction was to make a contribution for the modernization and development of the cultural and artistic life in Kadıköy, as well as providing a source of honour for the district thorough this occasion. Notwithstanding its name, for many years it wasn’t possible to perform an opera piece in the building for most of its existence since the necessary equipment for staging one was lacking. Instead, it was chiefly used for displaying cinema films and therefore came to be known among the populace with the name “Süreyya Cinema”, and was administered for that purpose by Süreyya Paşa’s grandchildren until 2005. The frescoes of the building were seriously damaged during the time it was loaned to commercial institutions after the death of Süreyya İlmen Paşa in 1950, when it was leased to Darüşşafaka (literally “home of compassion” in Ottoman Turkish) Association . Until roughly one decade ago, the building was largely in a neglected and devastated state. After the efforts of the municipality of Kadıköy and other people behaving on their own initiative with charitable purposes, the opera house passed thorough a massive and dramatic renovation, after the conclusion of which it was inaugurated for a second time on October 27 2007. Since this date, the building has served many lovers of arts and especially opera more in accordance with the wishes of Süreyya Paşa, and today continues to be an indispensable center of cultural and social entertainment in one of the most central areas of Kadıköy.
Bahariye Street, or General Asım Gündüz Street with its official name, is one of the most charming and attracting areas in the center of Kadıköy, and its attractiveness for thousands of Stambulites passing their time in Kadıköy was further increased when it was closed to traffic in the year 1992. The tram line of Kadıköy also passes thorough this street since 2003. Today it continues to be an important place of attraction and entertainment for many residents of the district each day of the week.
Kadıköy Market has continued to occupy a crucial and irreplaceable place in the lives of many residents of Kadıköy. The market, which was home to merchants from diverse ethnic groups and religions, including Turks, Greeks and Armenians since the 18th century, today still continues to be a basic commercial center in the Anatolian side of İstanbul and serves as a popular touristic destination for many native and foreign tourists alike with a rich variety of restaurants, shops, churches and mosques and presents its visitors with a unique cultural atmosphere peculiar to Kadıköy.
Certainly one of the most astonishing entertainment areas in the whole İstanbul, let alone Kadıköy is the Baghdad Avenue, which could be considered the Anatolian-side equivalent of the famous İstiklal Avenue on the other side of the Bosphorus. The area now constituting the avenue was in usage in Byzantine and Ottoman period as a road connecting Constantinople (later İstanbul) with Anatolia. The avenue was named after the city of Baghdad in modern Iraq in 1638 on the occasion of the recapture of this city during the reign of Sultan Murad IV. During the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit II the area was preferred by the ruling elite of the Empire as the locations for the construction of wooden chalet houses, chiefly due to the road’s proximity to the imperial palace. After the declaration of republic, the avenue was covered with asphalt –replacing the previous cabblestone layer- and a tram line was also constructed on it. Beginning with 1960s, the car races mostly performed by young man of relatively more convenient financial statuses was made had occured on the avenue. Today, the avenue is home to the offices of many internationally famous brands in various fields and has been therefore the destination of many visitors on a daily basis arriving mainly with the purpose of shopping and entertainment, for both of which the avenue is without doubt unrivalled on the Anatolian side. On the national days, most notably on the Republic Day the avenue is also home to many citizens gathering for celebrations and holding parades, and is probably the main center for such activities in Kadıköy and one of the most prominent ones in the Anatolian side of İstanbul as a whole.