A seaside village: Kanlıca

Kanlica is one of the first places that comes to mind when thinking about old Istanbul.


With its rough inlet, its seaside mansions, its streets surrounded by wooden buildings smelling of linden trees, and perhaps most importantly, with the famous “Kanlıca Yoghurt”, almost synonymous with the town’s name, here is a little seaside town that has preserved its unique identity. 

Istanbul is an endless city

From Anatolia to Rumeli, it is getting larger and larger every day, containing those places most of which we have not seen or even heard of. But how much of Istanbul are these distant places? Istanbul is the Bosphorus. It is the Historical Peninsula. Or isn’t it? Isn’t the real Istanbul hidden in the oldest districts, each of which has a hint of the past and is full of life? 

Kanlıca is one of the old districts that shows us real Istanbul. Although it is not the same Kanlıca remembered by the elderly, it is still a corner that could escape the menace of “unification” slowly taking hold of Istanbul. Its streets still smell like the old city with the grocery store, the greengrocer’s, the hairdresser’s...

Kanglı, Kanglıca, Kanlıca...

Kanlıca lies along the inlet that has Çubuklu in the north and Anadoluhisarı in the south. It is a part of Beykoz. Kanlıca Inlet, which was once called Phiela, is just to the south of it. This bay, on the intersection of Bülbül Deresi and the sea, brings to mind the moon festivals organized in 19th century. 

Although Kanlıca had its heyday in the rising period of the Ottoman Empire, life in this region dates back to ancient ages. The region was called in those days “Glarus” meaning “seagull”. It was known by the name “Elasos” or “Olasos” in the Byzantine period. There are various rumors about its current name. 

A very long time ago, kağnıs (ox-carts) were made in this region. Thus one of the rumors is that Kanlıca was derived from “kanglıca” which was also derived from “kanglı”, which means “small car”. Another rumor claims that the pinkish milk obtained from the cows, which were fed on a kind of red grass on the skirts of Kanlıca, was called “kanglı” and this word turned into “Kanlıca” in time. What is more interesting is the rumor that the color of the famous Kanlıca yoghurt was once nearly pink.

Kanlıca yoghurt of centuries

Kanlıca is so much identified with its yoghurt that Istanbulites think of Kanlıca when yoghurt is mentioned and of yoghurt when Kanlıca is mentioned. Macurlar Neighborhood, situated on the outskirts of the town where yoghurt producers were settled, was then called the “yoghurt makers’ neighborhood”. It is said that Hüseyin Reis Effendi, one of the local people, was the first to introduce this yoghurt to the neighborhood. Yet the one who made it famous was Ismail Hakkı Bey, the owner of Ismail Ağa Kahvesi. What carried its fame to other towns was the castor sugar put on the yoghurt. But then these production facilities were closed one by one. Today, there is only one place that makes Kanlıca yoghurt in the traditional way: Kanlıca Doğa Yoğurdu. This is the legacy of Sabri Bey, who played an important role in making Kanlıca yoghurt better. The owners changed a few times after the death of Sabri Bey, but the tradition remains today. In the shop opposite the pier, both daily production and sales are made.

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