kasim1Market: Sunday (Toprak Tabya Sokak, Küçük Piyale)

Named after Kasım Paşa (? - 1543), one of Süleyman the Magnificent's commanders who was with him at the unsuccessful siege of Vienna in 1529 but who later succeeded in snatching Buda from the Habsburgs for him in 1530, the Golden Horn suburb of Kasımpaşa went on to serve as the site of Constantinople's most important shipyard right through into the late 19th century.

Today many reminders of its role in Turkish naval history still stand close to the coast road; in 2013 the majority of them seemed to be under renovation.

More recently Kasımpaşa has become known as the childhood home of the current prime minister, Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan who grew up apparently near the site of The Palace teahouse which I am yet to track down. 

In 2013 it was announced that companies associated with the Rixos Hotel group had won the contract to redevelop the old Tersane-i Amire and Camialtı shipyard sites with hotels, restaurants and shopping facilities.

Around Kasımpaşa

Arriving in Kasımpaşa on the Golden Horn ferry you will step ashore facing the Kalyoncu Kışlası (Barracks of the Galleon Crew), a long, neoclassical structure built round a water-facing central courtyard that was commissioned in 1785 by Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa, the Algerian admiral who was known for keeping a pet lion, as commemorated by the statue of the pair of them across the road from the barracks (and also in its pair in the Aegean town of Çeşme). It was originally intended to house members of the Ottoman navy. Today it is being complrehensively refurbished.kasim2

Looking to the left you will see another building that is also being completely renovated and that is the Bahriye Nezreti, a palace-like building that used to house the Ministry for the Navy.

The original building on the site seems to have been commissioned by Sultan Ahmed I as part of the Tersane Sarayı, of which the only surviving portion is the Aynalıkavak Kasrı just up the road. It was considerably expanded by Sultan Mahmud II who added a throne room to it, but most of what you see today was designed on reclaimed land for Sultan Abdülaziz in the mid-19th century. It's to be hoped that when the restoration work is complete it will be opened to the public. 

High on the hillside above the Bahriye Nezreti and best seen from one of the ferries is the İstanbul Naval Hospital which dates back to 1785 when it was part of a laer hospital complex, now lost.

If you head inland along busy Paşakapısı Caddesi you will come to the Cami-i Kebir, originally a work of Sinan dating back to 1534 but virtually completely rebuilt in the 19th century. The mosque itself is of no great architectural interest but part of its complex is the Büyük Hamamı, the largest Turkish bath in the city which was part of the Sinan original and is still in business today with separate bath chambers for men and women. 

piyaleInland from the Cami-i Kebir but better reached by bus than on foot is another far more interesting mosque, the splendid Piyalepaşa Cami, designed by Sinan in 1573. Despite standing in a fairly desolate part of the city where Kasımpaşa and Dolapdere come together the mosque is backed by allotments which gives it an unexpectedly rustic feel. At a quick glance you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a much older mosque since its six equal-sized domes give it more a look of Bursa's Ulu Cami than İstanbul's own Süleymaniye with its cascading domes. 

The mosque comes with a wraparound portico and a single minaret that juts up from the middle of one side. Internally, it reverts more to High Ottoman type with plenty of fine İznik tiles. It's well worth the effort of trying to get to it. 

Kasımpaşa Market. Also known as the Kastamonu Market or İnebolu Market because most of its traders travel down from these Balck Sea towns to sell their produce, this outdoor Sunday market is well known amongst foodies for the quality and variety of its produce including fine Black Sea bread. The earlier you get here the better; by mid-afternoon the stalls will be closing down. Find the market by heading inland along Bahariye Caddesi (the main road through Kasımpaşa) and then turning left some way past the Cami-i Kebir. 

bigbreadLoaf of bread weighing eight kilos at Kasımpaşa Market


Kasımpaşa is hardly the culinary hub of İstanbul so it's worth knowing about the Kasımpaşa Sosyal Tesisleri right beside the ferry terminal. Smarter than you'd expect and with a great view of the water, this chain restaurant serves no alcohol which means that bills tend to be low. Its balık çorbası (fish soup) is excellent. 

Transport info

By far the nicest way to reach Kasımpaşa is on one of the Golden Horn ferries from Üsküdar or Eminönü although there are also dolmuşes from the Şişhane exit of the Metro and buses from Taksim.

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