Besiktas (Istanbul Bosphorus Towns) II

Politically this area has always been centre–left leaning and has in the past been a stronghold of the Republican People's Party. Today there are also many students and much of the accommodation is pricey, especially considering much of it was built in the 50s and 60s, and the streets are narrow. The area today has a cosmopolitan feel to it. However Beşiktaş does invoke pride in its residents, and there is still a solid family feel to the place, compared with the very transient population of Beyoğlu for example. With its narrow streets winding uphill, too narrow for lot's of traffic so fairly quiet, people sitting on doorsteps, a warm breeze coming off the sea, people with handcarts collecting scrap metal or selling boiled sweetcorn, and cats everywhere, Beşiktaş, along with Kadıköy on the Anatolian side, is one of the best preserved neighbourhoods in the city; not as pretty as the villages up the Bosphorus, but then they are much smaller.

Besiktas is also home to: the city's naval museum (Deniz Muzesi); and opposite the museum is a historical Ottoman mosque; and the Yahya Efendi Tekke—one of the best-preserved surviving tekkes in Istanbul.

Barbaros Boulevard in BesiktasBeside the naval museum is located The Barbaros Squeare which is also Istanbul's main skateboarding place where local skaters meet up and do tricks over big steps.

The long Barbaros Boulevard takes traffic uphill and inland from the centre of Besiktas, a major route to the Bosphorus bridges. To the left (going uphill) is the centre of Besiktas, Abbasaga Park and streets of apartment buildings leading to Ihlamur Kasri (a summer palace of the Ottoman dynasty in its last period - the 19th century) and up to Dikilitas and Sisli. This was orchards and fruit-gardens in the 18th century but today is a densely-populated residential area and Besiktas Pazari near Ihlamur has been one of the best-known open air markets of Istanbul for several decades. Ihlamur means 'linden' in Turkish and there are plenty of these beautifully-scented trees in the park and throughout Besiktas. Abbasaga Park was a cemetery in Ottoman times, and was dug up in the early days of the Turkish Republic to create the park that exists today. Unfortunately this was done without taking any records and the operation was a loss to the historical record of Istanbul.

To the right of Barbaros Bulvari lies Yildiz palace and Yildiz park, the largest green area in Besiktas, now home to Yildiz Technical University. From this point on, housing becomes more upmarket and much more expensive as we get into the Balmumcu, Etiler (where Bogaziçi University is located) and Ulus areas. All this was farmland in the Ottoman period, and the small palace called Balmumcu Kasri was a hunting lodge of the sultans.

Going along the Bosphorus from Besiktas in northward direction we pass the Çiragan Palace hotel and come to a number of well known districts that still retain some of their original village identity:

Ortaköy. In the past this was a cosmopolitan area with communities of Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Jews. Ortaköy is highly visible from the Bosphorus because of the incredibly ornate mosque right on the jetty (a product of the feverish imagination of the Balyan family). Today Ortaköy is a popular city neighbourhood with art galleries, cafes, bars and restaurants and on Sundays a craft market in the streets.

Kuruçesme: the coast and the steep hillside behind it from the little point in Ortaköy called Defterdarburnu up to the beginning of Arnavutköy at Sarrafburnu and the entrance to Robert College. There is still some of the lush green on the hillside which gave the area its original name, Koruçesme.

Arnavutköy (previously known as Hestai, then Promotu and Anaplus). The long lost Byzantine church of Ayios Mihael built by Constantine was here. It was pulled down and its stones used to build the castle of Rumeli Hisari.

Bebek, named in the period of the conquest when Bebek Çelebi (most likely a nickname, as "bebek" means "baby" in Turkish), lieutenant of Fatih Sultan Mehmet, was sent here to build the castle of Rumeli Hisari and thus establish control of the Bosphorus. Bebek Çelebi built himself a house and a garden here. Since then many of Turkey's great and powerful have followed in his footsteps and built themselves luxury homes along this coast.

Asiyan, between Bebek and Rumeli Hisari. Now best known for the cemetery where many of Istanbul's aristocracy chose to be buried, this area is built on a slight point out into the sea, and as this narrows the Bosphorus it was known in Greek as Lomekopi or in Turkish, Bogazkesen, the Bosphorus breaker. The area today takes its name from the house of poet Tevfik Fikret up on the hill overlooking the sea, and "âsiyan" means 'bird's nest' in Persian.


The district also gives its name to Turkey's oldest sports club, Besiktas Jimnastik Kulübü (Besiktas Gymnastics Club), founded in 1903. The club's football team is one of the top three in Turkey and has won twelve Turkish Super League titles and participated three times (1997-98, 2000-01, 2003-04) in the UEFA Champions League. The club's 30,000 seater grand Inönü stadium is on the Bosphorus sea-front just before the centre of Besiktas and on match days the area is crowded with football fans. The Kazan pub in the centre of Besiktas is the traditional raucous pre-match meeting place.

The football team wears black-and-white shirts and are nicknamed the "Black Eagles". The club is widely supported by the working class and also has earned fame with their notoriously faithful fans. Besiktas also has basketball, volleyball and other teams.


Çarsi (means Bazaar in Turkish) is the biggest fan group of BJK. It took its name from the Besiktas Bazaar. The core of the group is from the Bazaar, working class and university students. Besiktas has the most university per kilometer square in Turkey. Before every match, Carsi meets up at Kazan Pub, and walk all the way from Besiktas, thru the historic avenue of Dolmabahçe to the Inönü Stadium. The group is mostly left wing. When the ex prime minister of Turkey, Bülent Ecevit (Democratic Left), died, the group blackened its website for a day as a respect to the ex prime minister.


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Besiktas (Istanbul Bosphorus Towns) II Image Galerie

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