Bahçelievler Istanbul

Bahçelievler (meaning 'houses with gardens' in Turkish) is a large middle class residential suburb of Istanbul, Turkey on the European side of the city. It is on the E-5 Highway that runs from the Istanbul airport into the heart of the city and thus has always been ripe for development, covering 5% of Istanbul's land area and home to 500,000 people. Bahçelievler is the northern neighbour of Bakırköy and a very similar area.
A photo of Bahçelievler, IstanbulBahçelievler is the place where the stone was quarried to build the old city of Istanbul but has no history or archaeology of its own. It was always farmland and was deserted by the Greek farmers after the Ottoman conquest of the city. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic in the 1920s Bahçelievler emerged from settlements built alongside roads stretching out of the city towards the airport and towards Europe, first the Londra Asfalt, but particularly after the E5 was built in the 1960s. Factories were built alongside the roads, followed by dense housing, followed by apartment buildings. The population of Bahçelievler grew from 8,500 in 1960 to 100,000 in 1975 and today's half a million people packed into 16.7 km².

In the 1970s part of the area was built to a plan and until the 1980s, Bahçelievler was indeed full of houses with gardens, as its name suggests. During the rapid economic growth of Turkey in the 80's and 90's most of these houses were pulled down, sold to developers and replaced with apartment blocks, with far less green space between them; today the name Bahçelievler only truly applies to the central Bahçelievler District.

Bahçelievler today is unbalanced: some districts (e.g., the Bahçelievler District of Bahçelievler, Basin Sitesi and Yayla) are among the best-planned and tidiest places in the Istanbul, with well-lit, tree-lined avenues of attractive buildings and small parks, big shopping centers, cinemas and many small cafes. However there is still far too much traffic in Bahçelievler and in 2006 a number of new roads, bridges and underpasses were put through to try and ease the situation.

The outer districts moreover have serious problems, they are full of low-class apartments and are untidy. Areas like Yenibosna or Soganli consists of factories and large areas of retail and small business (in this case many textile wholesalers), filled in with extremely dense housing (8 or 10 storey apartment buildings packed together in long rows) and run through with arterial roads. The infrastructure of these areas is much poorer, and the narrow streets are full of traffic.

There are branches of four universities, many public and private schools and hospitals. Prominent landmarks include the Unverdi shopping centre (on the site of the old Unverdi cinema, right in the centre of the district), and the Omur patisserie/cafe on the E5 at the entrance to Bahçelievler, which has now grown a whole shopping district around it. In 2006 a big Carrefour will open on the E5 at Merter.

Transport is mostly by bus, minibus or car along the E5, and getting in and out of the city centre by public transport takes over an hour (to either Beyoglu or Eminonu). Crossing to the European side is easiest by sea-bus from Bakirkoy.