After a snowy week in Istanbul, I took a walk in the snow-covered Belgrade forest. It was really beautiful.
The name: “Belgrade Forest”
Why there’s a forest named “Belgrade” in Istanbul? According to common belief, the 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, 6 November 1494 – 6 September 1566) 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.
But, I take the second part of this story with a pinch of salt. Because there was no Serbia campaign during the reign of Suleiman. Serbia was already Ottoman land at that time. Maybe, those Serbs were just paid workers (or maybe they were forced labor), not prisoners of war.
Anyway, whoever those Serbs were, they lived in the most beautiful area in Istanbul. The forest is always stunning and it offers different beauties to eyes every season of the year, every day of the week, and every hour of the day. But, I prefer it in the winter. In the spring and summer months – yes, the forest is still really beautiful, but there’ll be a huge crowd of picnickers and barbeque makers (and I mean HUGE), especially on the weekends.
Today, more than 71 types of birds and 18 types of mammals live in this forest, including wild boars, deers, foxes, and jackals (I saw many of these mammals with my own eyes). Some say even wolves live in the forest, and there’s an aqueduct named after wolves – Kurtkemeri (wolves’ duct). But, to be honest, I have never seen a wolf in the forest. Maybe it’s a thing of the past.
How to go to Belgrade Forest?
The forest also Contains Atatürk Arboretum, and the ruins of Belgrad village, an 18th-century summer getaway for the Istanbul ex-pat crowd.
It’s free for pedestrians and cyclists to enter the Belgrade forest.
I also took videos (they are a bit shaky, though).
Related: Belgrade Forest under snow
- Belgrad Forest (Belgrade Forest) on Wikipedia