Fouilltes de Sagalassos

The Belgrade Forest in Istanbul

on 11/07/2013

Cyclistes dans la forêt de Belgrade à Istanbul

       When the summer heat becomes unbearable in Istanbul, one of the most pleasant places to walk is definitely the Belgrade Forest located on the European side.It is situated between the Black Sea and inhabited areas to the west of the Bosphorus.

The area in the early eighteenth century was over 13,000 ha and was the main source of drinking water of the former Constantinople. Only 10 years ago it did not extend more than 5440 ha.

The name was assigned at the time of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the mid-sixteenth century.It comes from the village of Belgrat located a few kilometers from Bahçeköy.

During the sultans era there were in this town many summer homes belonging to embassies from the district of Pera, today Beyoğlu. Members of the foreign community came here to recuperate in the greenery and water.

In a letter dating from 1717, Lady Montagu, renowned British writer whose husband was ambassador to Constantinople, describes her stay in Belgrat with rich vegetation and Christians living there.

In 1896, Sultan Abdul Hamit evacuated the village, because water had become unfit for human consumption due to the influx of people who came there to treat their contagious diseases.

This forest, protected for centuries, includes an impressive variety of towering oaks beside the chestnut, beech and birch.

Birds and animals live there quietly, hunting is prohibited.

Today, on weekends locals of Istanbul, are coming to bike long miles. Also people with family or friends enjoy the furnished picnic areas, walk around and take a breath of freshair.

In the autumn, mushroom lovers come here more and more every year to fill their baskets. 

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