Kuçukçekmece Istanbul

Küçükçekmece is a large, crowded suburb on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey 23 km out of the city, beyond Atatürk Airport. Population 600,000. Area 118 km².


Küçükçekmece is on the Marmara coast, on the eastern shore (nearest the city) of an inlet of the Marmara called Küçükçekmece Gölü. Across the inlet is the district of Avcilar and the campus of Istanbul University. The inlet is connected to the Sea of Marmara by a very narrow channel so the water is not salty. The streams running into the inlet now carry industrial waste and the inlet is highly polluted but efforts are being made to get it clean again. There used be wildlife and many kinds of birds and efforts to get the wildlife back are taking effect slowly.


The lagoon has almost always been controlled by whichever imperial power was in control of Istanbul as the road from the city to Europe passed by here.

Until the 1950s Küçükçekmece was a popular weekend excursion, people would come by train from Istanbul to swim, fish for eels or just sit by the water, while children played in the woods.

However the land here is flat, rising slightly away from the shore, and as such is easily built upon so as bigger and bigger roads have been built the area has become industrial and crowded with huge housing projects.

This development is still going on and is indeed accelerated as the TEM motorway to Europe passes through here now. The Ikitelli area in particular is very industrial and still more factories are being built. The Nuclear Energy Research center is on the lake side.

Küçükçekmece today

The population of Küçükçekmece is growing fast and it is acquiring schools, supermarkets, shopping centres and other facilities. However this is very much a poor, working class neighbourhood, with much crime in dirty streets where men gather in badly lit cafes to play cards, drink tea and smoke cheap cigarettes. Most of the housing is illegally built gecekondu. Most of the people are recent migrants from Anatolia, increasingly from the troubled south-east. Traditionally there has been much left-wing sympathy.

At sunset young people will find somehere to sit by the lakeside and drink beer, that is the best Küçükçekmece has to offer.

The Atatürk Olympic Stadium is here. And also the Galatasaray rowing club.

Things to see

A very beautiful old historic bridge crosses the mouth of the lagoon, built by Mimar Sinan, the famous Ottoman architect. The bridge has been restored and is well maintained, it is worth seeing. In the district of Kanarya there is a well-known meat and beans restaurant called 'Mandaci'.