Belgrade Forest, a serene and lush oasis on the outskirts of Istanbul, transforms into a winter wonderland under the spell of snow. This photo that I took back on January 18, 2021, captures this transformation. It showcases the forest’s hilltops and trees blanketed in a heavy layer of snow. This enchanting scenery, set against the backdrop of Istanbul’s dynamic cityscape, offers a moment of tranquility and awe-inspiring beauty.

Belgrade Forest [İstanbul] under snow
Enchanted Winter in Istanbul: Belgrade Forest’s hilltops and trees, draped in a pristine snow blanket, transform into a fairy tale landscape. This captivating scene, where tranquility meets the beauty of nature, offers a serene escape from the city’s rhythm, reminding us of the quiet majesty hidden just beyond the urban sprawl. I took this photo on January 18, 2021.

The Belgrade Forest

The Belgrade Forest, spanning over 5,300 hectares, is a natural treasure trove that becomes even more captivating during the winter months. As snowflakes gently settle on the dense canopy of trees and carpet the undulating hills, the forest adopts a surreal, almost ethereal quality. The contrast of the snow against the deep greens and browns of the forest creates a visual spectacle, reminiscent of a scene from a fairy tale.

In this photo that I took back in 2021 winter, the snow-covered trees stand tall and proud, their branches heavy with the weight of the snow, creating a picturesque landscape. The hilltops, draped in a pristine white blanket, offer a panoramic view that is both breathtaking and calming. The silence of the forest, accentuated by the snow, provides a sense of peace and solitude, inviting visitors to pause and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.

Belgrade Forest is not just a natural wonder; it’s a historical treasure as well. With a history dating back to the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, it has served as a vital water source and a royal hunting ground. Today, it’s a popular escape for Istanbulites and tourists alike, offering a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. The forest’s walking trails, picnic areas, and rich biodiversity make it a cherished spot for nature lovers, photographers, and anyone seeking a moment of serenity.

Why is the forest named “Belgrade Forest”?

Belgrade Forest in Istanbul derives its name from a historical connection to the city of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. During the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent conquered Belgrade in the 16th century. Following this conquest, a significant number of Serbs from Belgrade and the surrounding areas were relocated to the Ottoman Empire. Many of these people were settled in the forest near Istanbul, which was then named after their former city, Belgrade, as a homage to their origin.

This area, rich in natural springs and dense woodland, was of strategic importance to the Ottomans, primarily because of its role in supplying water to Istanbul. The Belgrade Forest became the site of several historical aqueducts and water reservoirs built by the Ottomans, some of which are still visible and partly functional today.

The name “Belgrade Forest” has persisted over the centuries, serving as a reminder of the forest’s historical and cultural significance, as well as its longstanding connection to the communities that once settled there.


Özgür Nevres

Published by Özgür Nevres

I am a software developer, a former road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the city of Istanbul on this website. I live in Istanbul since 1992.

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