The autumn brings beautiful colors to Istanbul Belgrade Forest. I took thee photos during a bicycle ride on November 10.
Istanbul’s Belgrade Forest
The Belgrade Forest (Turkish: Belgrad Ormanı) is a mixed deciduous forest lying 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) northwest of Istanbul, Turkey.
Geographically, the forest is located at the easternmost point of the Thracian Peninsula. It stretches between the Black Sea and Bosphorus. Forest terrain is divided between Sarıyer (Bahçeköy) and Eyüp districts. Several historical reservoirs lie within the forest.
During the Ottoman Empire, the area of the forest was approximately 13,000 hectares. Although diminished to 5442 hectares today, it still houses many species of plants, birds, and mammals (including deer and wild boar). The most common tree in the forest is Sessile Oak. (Quercus petraea) Belgrade Forest is under protection and is one of the most visited recreational areas of Istanbul.
Related: Belgrade Forest under snow
In the forest, there are some Ottoman dams still remaining, which were all built over a period of 150 years.
According to common belief, Belgrade Forest was named after a Serbian village that was forcibly relocated to the forest to manage the city’s water supply system during Ottoman times. The people of the village were captives from Suleiman’s (the Magnificent) Serbia campaign. Apparently, they were known for being good at that sort of thing, and the sultan decided he’d prefer to have no one but the best looking after his aqueducts and dams.
The water from the Belgrade Forest dams ended up along the European Bosporus shore all the way down to Besiktas (you can still see the remnants of the aqueducts in Bahcekoy) before terminating in the famous Taksim Square, where it was then distributed further. This is actually how Taksim got its name – “taksim” is Turkish for “distribution”.