Kuzguncuk is a small, charming village in the Üsküdar district on the Asian side. Once home to a thriving mix of Greeks, Jews and Armenians, it retains much of its traditional architecture and neighbourhood atmosphere.
In the 15th century, the area was known as “Little Jerusalem”. Later, in the 18th century, Armenians began moving in. There was also a large Greek community, as evidenced by their churches. Over the years following the departure of the area’s long-established minorities, the ethnic make-up of the neighbourhood has changed, and Black Sea Anatolians now form the majority of lucky residents.
Meeting IWI member Gabriele Sailer in Üsküdar, we will walk together along the Bosphorus towards Kuzguncuk. We pass the curious old cigarette warehouse and Fethi Paşa Park, one of the largest green spaces surviving in Üsküdar. Inside the Park, the restored Fethi Paşa mansion is now as a restaurant, with a nice Bosphorus view.
Continuing on to Kuzguncuk, we reach the small district containing Jewish synagogues, an Armenian church and a Greek Orthodox church. For hundreds of years, these people of different faiths lived side by side, and they left their physical marks as well as their sense of community spirit.
Strolling the main street, we will enjoy browsing small jewellery ateliers, art galleries, curiosity shops, artisan bakeries… and check out the produce at the communal vegetable gardens.
Having seen all the lovely cafes, it will be a tough group choice where to stop for coffee or a light lunch before we say “au revoir” to Kuzguncuk – because you are sure to want to return.
© International Women of Istanbul 2017