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BAĞDAT CADDESİ & SURROUNDS

"Baghdad Road"

bagdat1Looking down on Bağdat Caddesi with the Vakko department store in the foreground and the Princes Islands in the backgroundOver on the Asian side of İstanbul, Bağdat Caddesi is one of those places that Turks tend to rave about but which foreign visitors may find much more missable. Forget any suggestion that it's the "Bond Street" of İstanbul or anything similarly fanciful. Instead it's a busy modern shopping street that stretches six km from Kadıköy to Bostancı without offering much in the way of historical architecture as it goes. 

Still, if you are staying on this side of town this is one place to go in search of non-touristy shops as well as a wide range of cafes, pastry shops and restaurants. If you just want to take a quick look the stretch from Caddebostan to Suadiye is probably the most rewarding. Otherwise the best idea is probably to skip in and out of Bağdat Caddesi while visiting some of the other attractions nearby such as the Toy Museum in Göztepe.

Bağdat Caddesi may be short on historic attractions but it still owes its name to the fact that since forever the main route to Baghdad headed out in this general direction. However, it was only in the reign of Sultan Murad IV, who captured Baghdad for the Ottomans in 1638, that the road started to follow the route now taken by the modern Bağdat Caddesi. Since many camel trains would have passed this way many fountains were erected along the way so that the animals and the men who drove them could be watered. They're commemorated in such local place names as Çatalçeşme (Fork Fountain), Selamiçeşme (Selami's Fountain) and Söğütlüçeşme (Willow Fountain).

bagdat2The giraffe lampposts are modelled on an original that used to stand in the garden of the Züraflı Köskü in ErenköyToy Museum (Oyuncak Müzesi)

İstanbul’s delightful Toy Museum (admission fee, closed Mondays) is housed in Dr Zeki Zeren Sokak, off Ömerpaşa Caddesi, in the back streets of Göztepe but well signed from Bağdat Caddesi. You can hardly miss it once you get there since the lampposts outside come in the shape of giraffes and the courtyard contains outsize models of famous funny man Nasreddin Hoca on his donkey and of Keloğlan, the rather less well-known "bald boy" of Turkish fairy stories.

Author-owner Sunay Akın has assembled a collection of around 5,000 toys from all around the world, which are displayed on the three floors of a lovely wooden house whose toilets are housed in a replica submarine in the basement. Parents will love the café.

Ozğürlük Parkı, Selamiçeşme

Bağdat Caddesi may be one of the city’s best places to shop if your tastes run to international labels, but it’s a bit of a concrete jungle so it’s good to know about this big and inviting park, with a small lake, a theatre, lots of children’s entertainment, and a veritable army of cats.

Sleeping

Although there is not a great deal of accommodation in this part of town at the moment more is likely to open in the next few years. Most hotels are in and around Bostancı.

The Suadiye Residence. Tel: 0216-362 1010, Bağdat Caddesi 435

Transport info

You can get to Bağdat Caddesi by dolmuş from Kadıköy although a one-way system means that they take a circuitous route via the Sahol Yolu (Coast Road) - you may want to get out and cut through the side streets to Bağdat Caddesi rather than go all the way up to Bostancı and then back along it from there. 

The Metrobus service runs to Selamiçeşme. The Metro from Kadıköy also serves Göztepe and other areas although it doesn't necessarily pass through especially central locations. 

A high-speed ferry links Kabataş with Bostancı (http://www.ido.com.tr/en/timetables/2014-summer-timetable/680). There are also ferry services from Bostancı to the Princes Islands (http://www.sehirhatlari.com.tr/en/timetable/bostanci-adalar-370.html).

bagdat3Historic ferry terminal at Bostancı

 

 

 

 

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