Usküdar is located on the Asian side at the entrance to the Bosphorus. Originaly Üsküdar was called Scutari and it was located between Salacak and Pasalimani neighborhoods, but it expanded during the years and now it stretches
to Ümraniye on the east, to Kadiköy in the south, and to Beykoz in the
During the Ottoman period, Usküdar was the third Muslim judgeship of Istanbul, besides Galata and Eyüp. The Muslim people coming from Anatolia resided in Usküdar after
it was taken by sultan Orhan Gazi in 1352. Sultan Mehmed
the Conqueror speeded the immigration from Anatolia to Usküdar. The famous Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi in the 17th century wrote that there were 70 Muslim neighborhoods in Usküdar and most of the people had emigrated from Anatolia.
He also stated that there were 11 Greek and Armenian, one Jewish, and no
French neighborhoods in Usküdar. This gave an ethnic and culturally homogeneous
structure to the district.
Usküdar was the center of trade with Anatolia until
the railway was installed in the 19th century with Haydarpasa
train station. It was also the starting point for trade with Iran and
Armenia. All Armenian and Iranian merchants arrived in Usküdar with their caravans. Therefore Usküdar became a trade town in the 16th and 17th
Usküdar was always a quiet and modest area, its streets
and houses were nice and well maintained. Karacaahmet cemetery, the oldest
and largest Muslim cemetery in Istanbul,
is located in Usküdar. There are many cypress trees in the cemetery, and
with its vegetation it is more like a park than a cemetery.
Every year people going to Mecca for pilgrimage were sent from Usküdar. The Surre Alayi
which brought the presents of the Ottoman Sultans to Mecca and Medina governors were also sent from Usküdar.
Usküdar has changed today, like the rest of Istanbul. Unfortunately nothing much remains of the shore-side palaces built in the 18th century. Its green hills have become cement
blocks loosing its traditional architectural characteristics. Just a few streets with wooden houses with balconies and
bow-windows are still alive. The Marmaray station is located right in the square.