The winter came early this year in Istanbul. We already started wearing coats. Amazingly, the air is smelling like snow. I remembered the snowy winter of 2012 (the photos below are from January 2012).
The photos are taken in a snowy January day in Belgrade Forest, near Bahçeköy (meaning garden village). Bahçeköy is one of the Northern Villages of Sarıyer, Istanbul. It was formerly the Byzantine Petra District. In the 19th century, the village was inside the Belgrade forest but due to the latter’s retreat before development, Bahcekoy now sits on the forest’s edge.
The Belgrade Forest (Turkish: Belgrad Ormanı) is a mixed deciduous forest lying 15 kilometers north-west 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 and Eyüp districts. Several historical reservoirs lie within the forest.
During the Ottoman Empire, the forest covered approximately 13,000 hectares. Although diminished to 5442 hectares today, it still houses many plant, bird and animal species. 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.
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”.
How to go to Belgrade Forest?
The forest is in the Sariyer district; accessible by busses to Bahcekoy (153 from Sariyer, 42T from Taksim, 42HM from Haciosman station (the last station) of subway).
The forest also Contains Ataturk Arboretum (open only weekdays). Also contains ruins of Belgrad village, 18th century summer getaway for the Istanbul expat crowd.
Read more on wiki