Üsküdar is large and densely populated district of Istanbul, on the Anatolian shore of Bosporus. It is bordered by Beykoz, Ataşehir, Kadıköy, and Eminönü, old city, is on the opposite shore.
Üsküdar was found by ancient Greek colonists from Megara city state. Then, it was under control Byzantine Empire. Üsküdar was very important because all trade routes to Asia started here, and all Byzantine Army units headed to Asia mustered there. Above all, because of its location across from Constantinople, it was a natural target for anyone aiming at the capital. That’s why emperors of Byzantine always paid special attention to Üsküdar. Turks started to be seen around Üsküdar during era of second Ottoman Sultan Orhan Gazi. Later, Üsküdar watched falling of Constantinople. In the Ottoman period Üsküdar was one of the three communities outside of the city walls.
Colour of Üsküdar has been always religions. Üsküdar was so important for Muslims and Kuzguncuk, neighbourhood of Üsküdar, was the same for Jewish. Üsküdar is on the east, and collected all the mysticism of east. Its dervish lodges and dervish convents were famous. In Üsküdar, mosque and church shared the same wall while a synagogue was neighbouring.
Üsküdar is a place where all the writers wrote something about it. Maybe many pages or just a two lines. But none of them skipped Üsküdar. Because it was the city who saw fall of Constantine. It saw the first ferryboat went from Üsküdar to Kabataş. It is the place where history, legends, green, blue and mysticism meet. Üsküdar has been always beautiful because it has Çamlıca, Çengelköy, Kuzguncuk, Salacak and view of Maiden’s Tower from Salacak.
Nowadays, Üsküdar is construction site but still it has what it had. Now, it is home for retired people, many residents commute to European side for work or school. While all the residents of the city are suffering from traffic jam, residents of Üsküdar is always enjoying their trip meanwhile they are drinking their teas and watching sea from ferries. Due to transport across the Bosporus is easy by boat and cheap rent prices, central Üsküdar has a large student population.
Kız Kulesi also known as Maiden’s Tower is located 150-200 meters away from shore of the Salacak district. It has been used for many different purposes over time. It was light house, tax collection area, a defence tower even it was used as a quarantine hospital. There are many legends about the tower. The legend of Leandros is sad and romantic. Leandros falls in love with a nun named Hero. She lives in Kız Kulesi. Every night, Hero builds a fire in the tower so that Leandros may find his way his way to her by swimming to the tower. Thus, they meet every night. One night, Hero is put out by storm, Leandros loses his way in the cold waters of Bosporus and dies. When Hero hears what happened, she cannot endure the pain and commits suicide. The Princess Legend says that soothsayer makes a prediction to the king that his daughter will die as a result of snakebite. Then, the King has a castle built in the sea in order to protect his daughter. Time passes and girl grows up in the castle. However, the prediction comes true as a snake hiding a fruit basket carried to the princess bites her and kills her. The Battalgazi legend is a Turkish one and it says that Battalgazi loves the daughter of the tekfur, a Christian ruler of a town. He doesn’t bestow his daughter to Battalgazi so he places her in the tower in order to protect her. Battalgazi attacks the tower and abducts the girl. He mounts his horse with the girl and rides away.
Photo Credits: Mirza Abdurrahim Çetin