Cengelkoy and Cinaralti – A Real Istanbul Scene

Cinaralti in 1972

Cinaralti in 1972

In this article, I will introduce you to one of the places that will give you an example to meet the real treasures of Istanbul. The neighborhood called Çengelköy within the borders of Üsküdar district, on the Anatolian side.

Before starting to talk about Cengelkoy, let me take your attention to a totally different point, about what you would expect to see in Istanbul.

It is amazing to visit Istanbul, right? Many historical points, lots of interesting touristic places and even restaurants… There are also daily tours if you want to use them, very helpful, all Istanbul in 2 days.


In a way, these are all the things marketed to you just to make your visit easier and classical. As a tourist, you will just go and see, wherever you are asked to go or you are directed to.

From a business point of view, it is extremely cool…

So, what do you think? Which of the features that make Istanbul a spectacular city are introduced to you?

Cengelkoy pier is one of the most authentic beauties of Istanbul.

Let me be more clear, in my favorite places in Istanbul, I usually do not see many tourists or just a very few of them.

Yes, to repeat again… The tourists do not even know the way to those amazing places.

But why?

I can hear you asking “why”?

Well, I don’t know…

Maybe there are no contracted souvenir shops or a carpet maker to give a commission. Anyway, those details are not our job, are they?

Beauties of Istanbul

Now, I will introduce you to one of the places that will help you meet the real, the precious side of Istanbul.

On the Anatolian side, there is a neighborhood called Cengelkoy within the borders of Üsküdar district.

Where is that?

Yes, yes, exactly that place…

When you look across the Bosphorus, the area that you can see, with the old military building with those towers around it.

Kuleli Military High School in Cengelkoy

Are you wondering about the real Istanbul? Then, let me take you there…

How will you go?

Taxi, sea route, minibus, or bus … Whichever you prefer. The only thing to keep in mind, if you take a taxi, please don’t forget to ask the driver to open the taximeter and follow the road on your mobile device using any of the navigation software.

Sea ways to Cengelkoy

Although there are not so many taxi drivers left in that mindset, we still won’t want you to meet one of the malicious ones.

Cengelkoy – a historical treasure

Did I already mention it?

Cengelkoy is totally a treasure full of history. You can come across the mansions of the wealthy families, statesmen, and important people of the old times. And of course the main building of the historical Kuleli Military High School.

Seaside of Cengelkoy

This is an environment where you can stroll through the streets, breathe authentic air in every corner, and try local bakeries, restaurants, and cafes one by one. Do not forget to visit the greengrocers, of course …

A trip to past

When you reach Cengelkoy, you will go back about 50 years in time. Neighborhood environment is still going on, people are still there with their daily lifestyles and habits. In other words, there is no industrialized, touristic situation. All you have to do is turn your back to the sea and dive into the neighborhood. You may not be surprised at what you encounter, but you will definitely love it.

Cengelkoy, Iskele Street

Again, this neighbourhood is a beautiful piece from real Istanbul.

Okay, finally, let me come to the point that I wanted from the very beginning and tell you about the most popular part of this place.

Historical Cinaralti Cafe of Cengelkoy

Although there are many seaside restaurants and cafes both in this region and across Istanbul, by the sea, this place is actually very special.

Cinaralti in 1972
Cinaralti in 1972

If you had seen this place 20 years ago, you would have faced a place like a miracle in fairy tales.

Imagine, you leave the main road, pass through the buildings, and go down to the seaside. An 800-year-old sycamore welcomes you and you are directly all alone with the sea in the middle of a huge metropolitan city. It was a great pleasure to have a Turkish breakfast and drink tea in the shade of this sycamore during those times when we were young…

Cengelkoy Cinaralti in 70s.
Cinaralti in 70s.

Well, it still is …

Hidden paradise of Cengelkoy

However, of course, this setting was a silent hideaway 20-30 years ago, when this setting was completely authentic and a hidden paradise, now it is quite popular, but mostly among the local population again. Still, if you find the right time to go to Cengelkoy, you can still enjoy the silence and the sea air. I guess, here is the best place to mention it is open 24/7.

Cinaralti entrance

When you go to this tea garden, don’t forget to buy some local pastries or something else you would like right on your way to the cafe (or tea garden). Along with the tea special to this place, the pastries will go quite well.

An authentic understanding of trade

So, in other words, you can take your food with you as you go here. But, for sure, there is some stuff to eat on their menu as well. The prices are also very nice, local standards, not expensive, unlike other tourist attractions.

As a result, now you know a fairly authentic environment that perhaps no one would tell you about. I can suggest you take the time to go and visit this area. Remember, a city like Istanbul is not limited to a few historical buildings (which are usually surrounded by commercial souvenir shops) that you will be able to visit and observe within 2 days.

Istanbul view from Cengelkoy

Remember that this is an extraordinary city, where you will find a completely different story in each and every corner. Just be selective and know what you wish, while choosing the place to have a look at…


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