One of my favorite places to spend time in Istanbul is a small village on the Asian side of the Bosporus called Kuzguncuk. It’s only a few minutes away from the busy transport hub of Üsküdar, yet it’s small enough to feel like you are in a completely different world.
While I always enjoy sitting outside at one of the cafés, some people go there to look for antiques. Others go to wander through the streets to see the colorful Ottoman homes.
There are also fantastic views of the European side of the Bosporus and the Boğaziçi Köprüsü (Bosporus Bridge) from the seaside and a small square.
Although most of the residents are now Muslims, Kuzguncuk (Κουσκουντζούκ in Greek) was traditionally home to Jews, Armenians, and Greeks. In fact, there wasn’t a mosque in the village until 1952. It’s called Kuzguncuk Camii and is located on the grounds of the Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Armenian Church. It was built with funds donated by the Armenian community.
There are two synagogues. One of them, the Bet Yaakov Sinagogu, built in 1878, is right outside of the bus stop. It’s still active every Saturday. The Bet Nissim Sinagogu (which I wasn’t able to locate) was built in the 1840s and is only available to visit via appointment.
The Bet Yaakov Sinagogu is located right next to a small Greek Orthodox church, Agios Georgios, built in 1821.
A larger Greek Orthodox church sits a few blocks down the road, Agios Panteleimon. The bell tower at the entrance was built in 1911.
Across from Agios Panteleimon is the Agios Ioannis Greek Sanctuary, which contains a holy spring and a Greek cemetery.
The easiest way to get to Kuzguncuk is through Üsküdar. Take a ferry to Üsküdar and go to the Üsküdar Cami Önü stop (in front of the mosque across the street from the ferry terminal). Hop on a bus with the number 15. Kuzguncuk is the third stop. You can also take a dolmuş going to Beykoz and ask the driver to let you out at Kuzguncuk. There’s a ferry service but it isn’t frequent or convenient.