In a meadow between two creeks (Göksu Deresi and Küçüksu Deresi) on the Asian side of the Bosporus in old Constantinople (modern Istanbul), the 19th century Ottoman elite would gather to pass the time away in this place of natural beauty.
Nowadays, the natural beauty has been replaced with ugly modern apartment buildings and other structures stretching up into the once green hills, but to this day, any visitor to the area could imagine why this area was affectionately known to the Ottomans as “The Sweet Waters of Asia” (although the water doesn’t look that sweet anymore).
In addition to being an Ottoman playground, there are two very important Ottoman structures from extremely different periods in Ottoman history located there. Neither are often visited by tourists, but both are interesting and within easy walking distance of one another.
The oldest Turkish structure in Istanbul sits next to Göksu Deresi. Anadolu Hisarı is a small fortress built in 1394 by Sultan Beyazıt I before his failed siege of Constantinople in 1395. Its original name was Güzelce Hisar and it was built on top of an old temple dedicated to Ouranos.
The fortress is built in a strategic area of the Bosporus at the narrowest point of the strait. It has five watchtowers, with the tallest one at 25m high. A small mosque sits in the center.
Anadolu Hisarı was changed many times over the years and the original appearance has been lost. It was last restored in 1993. Unfortunately, it isn’t open to the public. Click here for a virtual tour.
On the European side of the Bosporus, directly across from Anadolu Hisarı, you can see Rumeli Hisarı. It was built in 1452 by Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet the Conqueror) before the Fall of Constantinople. The construction of Rumeli Hisarı and the successful conquest of Constantinople rendered Anadolu Hisarı obsolete as a fortress. Rumeli Hisarı later became a military prison and then fell into disrepair.
In the small village surrounding Anadolu Hisarı (which has the same name), it’s possible to spot a few nicely restored Ottoman homes. The village during Byzantine times was called Potámion (Ποτάμειον).
Next to Küçüksu Deresi is a small palace flaunting the wealth of the late Ottoman Empire. Küçüksu Kasrı was completed in 1857 for Sultan Abdül Mecit I. It was built over an older wooden palace completed in the early 18th century.
During the reign of Abdül Aziz, the exterior façade of the palace was made more elaborate. This can be seen especially on the side facing the Bosporus.
On the north side of the palace is a fountain that remains from the older palace. The Mihrişah Valide Sultan Çeşmesi was erected in 1796.
The palace has been a museum since 1944. It’s open to visitors daily from 9am to 5pm except Mondays and Thursdays. Admission is 5TL (as of November 2016). Guests are given special booties to put over their shoes in order to protect the floor. Photos are not allowed inside. Check the official website for more information and click here for a virtual tour.
The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Köprüsü (the second Bosporus bridge) lies just north of Anadolu Hisarı. It was completed in 1988 and at that time was the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world.
The easiest way to get to Anadolu Hisarı and Küçüksu Kasrı 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 Anadolu Hisarı or Küçüksu Kasrı stop. You can also take a dolmuş going to Beykoz and ask the driver to let you out at Anadolu Hisarı or Küçüksu Kasrı – 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 Anadolu Hisarı every few hours throughout the day. There’s a ferry service to Küçüksu but it isn’t frequent or convenient.