After a snowy week in Istanbul, I took a walk in the snow-covered Belgrade forest. It was really beautiful.

Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam
Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam (Topuzlu Bendi in Turkish). January 25, 2022. This small dam was built in 1619 under the orders of Sultan Ahmed I (April 1590 – 22 November 1617) to supply İstanbul with fresh water. During the reign of Sultan Mahmud I (1730-1754), a new aqueduct system known as Taksim supplied Pera (Galata) with water and Topuzlu Bendi was restored.
Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam
Topuzlu dam. January 25, 2022.

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 is in the Sarıyer district; accessible by busses to Bahçeköy (153 from Sariyer, 42T from Taksim, 42HM from the Hacıosman metro station (the last station) of the subway.

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.

Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam
Topuzlu dam
Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam
Topuzlu dam.
Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam
Everything was so peaceful. No human being walked on this snow before me.
Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam
Snow-covered trees.
Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam
A beautiful snow-covered tree. January 25, 2022.
Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam
Snow-covered Belgrade forest and Topuzlu dam. January 25, 2022.
Snow-covered Belgrade forest
Untouched snow. January 25, 2022.
Snow-covered Belgrade forest
Snow-covered Belgrade forest. January 25, 2022.

I also took videos (they are a bit shaky, though).

A walk in the snowy Belgrade Forest, Istanbul. January 25, 2022 part 1
A walk in the snowy Belgrade Forest, Istanbul. January 25, 2022 part 2. I took a small walk to the Topuzlu Dam in the Belgrade Forest, Istanbul.

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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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