Çengelköy is a lively village on the Asian side of the Bosporus in Istanbul. Located in the Üsküdar municipality, it was known as Sofianí (Σοφιανή) or Kikónion (Κικόνιον) during Byzantine times, but there’s nothing left today from that era.
Çengelköy has a good mix of modern and historic wooden Ottoman buildings. There are lots of little restaurants and shops along the main road and alleyways with outdoor cafés. There are great views of the Boğaziçi Köprüsü (Bosporus Bridge) from the pier.
On the main road across from the pier, there’s a Greek Orthodox church, Agios Georgios. It was built in 1908.
If you want nice views from high above, it’s best to walk up the hill from the church. You’ll also encounter some very interesting wooden buildings up there.
If you keep walking uphill, you’ll come to the Vahdettin Köşkü, an Ottoman mansion located in a large grove. There are three other buildings on the property – the Köçeoğlu Köşkü, the Kadın Efendi Köşkü, and the Ağalar Köşkü. All of these historic buildings were built in the 19th century.
The first building to be built was the Köçeoğlu Köşkü by an Armenian family with the same name. The property was later purchased by the Ottoman royal family and became the home of Şehzade Burhaneddin Efendi, a son of Sultan Abdülmecit I. It was later handed down to his half-brother Şehzade Mehmet Vahdettin Efendi, the future Sultan Mehmet VI, from whom the building got its current name.
The buildings were renovated between 2012 and 2014 and now serve as an Istanbul office of the President of Turkey. The renovations proved to be controversial as they changed the original architectural integrity of the buildings. Many trees in the grove were also destroyed, dramatically changing the entire property. The best views of the Vahdettin Köşkü are from a boat on the Bosporus.
The most important and visible landmark in Çengelköy is the Kuleli Askeri Lisesi, which sits at the northern end of the village. The building’s iconic conical towers are one of the symbols of Istanbul, and it’s a popular spot for fishing.
Kuleli Askeri Lisesi was the first military high school founded in Ottoman Turkey, by Abdülmecit I, in 1845. The building was constructed in the early 19th century. It has had a long history of use as a military hospital and barracks in addition to being a high school. It has been used continuously as a school since 1947.
The easiest way to get to Çengelköy is through Üsküdar. Take a ferry to Üsküdar and walk to the Üsküdar Cami Önü stop (in front of the mosque across the street from the ferry terminal). Hop on pretty much any bus with a number 15 until you reach the Çengelköy stop. You can also take a dolmuş going to Beykoz and ask the driver to let you out at Çengelköy – it’s much faster than the bus. If you’re on the European side, there’s a ferry service on the same line from either Arnavutköy or Bebek to Çengelköy every few hours throughout the day.