Through the Looking Glass- Exploring Anadolu Hisari

I often walk along the Bosphorus near Rumeli Hisarı towards Cihangir. The Asian coast is on the other side, separated from its twin European coast by the silvery stretches of the Bosphorus that flows between them like a moving mirror. The coasts are very similar- fortresses on either side, waterfront mansions, and one long seaside road hemming their skirts. Since I usually stick to one side, I decided to break my routine and explore the other side of the looking glass for a change. Early Saturday afternoon, despite the rain, I hopped on a ferry to Üsküdar and then onto a bus up the coast. My destination was Anadolu Hisarı- Rumeli's smaller sister.

When I got off the bus, I was struck by a sandy field that appeared to be moving due to the thousands of seagulls pecking on its grounds. An unknown force gave them a stir and sent them swirling in the air en masse, like a distant memory taking new form in the forefront of the mind. After a few minutes, they settled again, confetti dispersed on the floor after a wedding, only to rise again minutes later like a freshly shaken snow globe.

I moved further on to the fortress. A small bridge led to it and the canal that flowed underneath was lined with small fishing boats and seafood restaurants that sat mostly empty due to the rainy weather. Fishing nets sat in clumps and crates like hair, shed from a brush. The fortress, I learned, is home to a masjid, which is one of the oldest Turkish buildings in the city. Anadolu Hisarı dates back from 1393 when it was built in anticipation of the second siege of the city by Sultan Bayezid I, nicknamed "Lightning"-"Yıldırım" for his military prowess.

I continued towards the water until I hit the Küçüksu Palace, ornate as a wedding cake. Since the rain wasn't letting up, I took a break at the palace's adjacent kafeterya to have some lunch and read my book. While looking through the rain speckled window at Rumeli Hisarı, I noticed a strange shape moving in the water. It looked like a small building gliding along. As it got closer, I realized it was a submarine, with its tower poking out of the water like a dorsal fin. Such a strange sight while just sitting back and having lunch!

After lunch, I went to explore the neighborhood around the fortress, climbing up to get a good view. The neighborhood felt like a small, calm suburb, filled with beautiful, wooden Ottoman houses and boasting stunning views of the city. After meandering through its streets, avoiding street dogs, and strolling along a large cemetery coasting a canal, it was time to head back home. I went back to Üsküdar and crossed back on the ferry to the other, more chaotic side of the mirror, hoping to return on a sunnier day. The rain had finally subsided and I was welcomed back by a brilliant Istanbul sunset.

Küçüksu Palace

A submarine on an afternoon Bosphorus stroll

Cotton candy colored house

Older structures, step stools for better views

View from the top of the hill

A small Ottoman cemetery- the larger grave looked like a bedridden person and the gravestones around it like mourning relatives. 

Istanbul sunset


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