Guide to the Besiktas Area of Istanbul
Welcome to the Besiktas area of Istanbul, Turkey. Besiktas's importance to the great city of Istanbul ranges from its football club to historical attractions to daily vibes attracting expats looking to live in Istanbul.. Besiktas is one of Istanbul's most prominent districts, with increasingly more independent travellers also visiting to discover the hype. They aren't disappointed either, and over the last decade, Besiktas's impressive reputation has gone from countrywide to global fame. So, whether you plan to visit or live in Besiktas, let's consider what you need to know.
Guide to The Besiktas area of Istanbul
1: History of Besiktas
The first signs of settlement were during Constantine the Great's reign. In those days, the main city centre would have been in the Fatih area on the other side of the Golden Horn. Then there were smaller villages located inland and on the Bosphorus shores. The villages were under constant attacks from pirates, but once the Ottomans took over the rule, life became somewhat safer. By 1882, the population had risen to 28,777 people, including many nationalities. Over the decades, Besiktas developed into the central district it is today.
2: Is Besiktas a good Neighbourhood?
Besiktas isn't a neighbourhood but one of 39 official districts belonging to Istanbul. Altogether there are 23 neighbourhoods within the Besiktas district. Lesser-known neighbourhoods include Abbasaga, Akatlar, Balmumcu, Cihannuma, Dikilitas, Gayrettepe, Konaklar, Kurucesme, Kultur, Levazim, Mecidiye, Muradiye, Nisbetiye, Tukali, Ulus, Visnezade, Yildiz and Sinanpasa. However, five communities within the Besiktas district earn more fame.
Arnavutkoy: This small village sitting on the Bosphorus shores attracts day-trippers from other areas of Istanbul who flock for the seaside fish restaurants and to stroll cobbled streets boasting of old Ottoman mansions.
Bebek: The Bebek area of Besiktas, a popular neighbourhood with affluent city residents, is in the heart of the district. Trendy and buzzing Bebek features many waterfront cafes and restaurants that are ideal places for a promenade stroll and to watch the world go by.
Etiler: This neighbourhood maintains a somewhat upmarket vibe with trendy cafes, pubs, nightclubs, and restaurants. Image is big business in Etiler; hence many hairdressers, gyms, and shopping malls.
Levent: As one of Istanbul's central business districts sitting north of the Golden horn, Levent maintains a professional vibe full of swish and swanky offices that deal with countrywide and global businesses.
Ortakoy: This neighbourhood is most famous for its waterside square, where locals hang out, and the mosque serves as the travel photo for many publications. Ortakoy is also the best place to get a jacket potato in Istanbul.
3: Location of Besiktas District in Istanbul
Besiktas covers a large area of European Istanbul and includes, in part, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the 15th July bridge that leads across to Asian Istanbul. Besiktas is also the neighbouring district of Beyoglu that is the heart of what is known as new Istanbul and includes landmarks like Istiklal avenue, Turkey's busiest shopping street. In terms of convenience, Besiktas scores 100% because it provides everything for daily life, and its strategic location makes getting around Istanbul easy.
4: Besiktas Stadium and Arena
Besiktas is home to Vodaphone park, the home of the Besiktas football team. The Vodaphone park replaced the old Inonu Stadium that had operated since 1947. These days, as well as hosting home football matches, the 42,000-seater arena hosts numerous music and fashion shows, while restaurants inside the arena serve the finest of top chef dining.
5: Shopping and the Besiktas Market
Istanbul excels in shopping malls, of which Besiktas has two; Zorlu, home to 136 shops, and Almerkez, home to 106 hops. Both offer shopping, dining, and kids' entertainment all under one roof. Otherwise, you will never be short of choices since brand names and single-owned shops appear everywhere in Besiktas. First, however, do visit the Saturday Besiktas market, which has earned a stellar reputation among travellers for souvenir shopping and locals for the excellent quality of fruit, vegetables, and dairy.
6: Best Bars, Restaurants and Nightclubs
Although Besiktas excels in everything it does, the nightlife scene ranks one of Istanbul's best. Craft Beer Lab is known for its large selection of specialist beers, while 16 bar has the perfect rooftop setting. According to Trip Advisor, the best restaurants include Garden 1897 and the Summit bar and terrace. However, most locals agree that Besiktas Carsi is the best place for the nightlife scene.
7: Parks in Besiktas
Most people think of Istanbul as a concrete jungle with nothing for weekends and families to enjoy the power of Mother Nature. While this is true of some districts, Besiktas offers many green parks and areas for families and kids. They include Abbasaga, Bebek, Naile Sultan, Ulus, Yildiz and Dilek Sabanci to name but a few. Out of all, Yildiz is the best not only in Besiktas but also in Istanbul.
8: Things to do and Tourist Attractions
Dolmabahce Palace: This is a must-visit, not only on the travel scene of Besiktas but in Istanbul. As the Ottoman sultans' last home before they disbanded, Dolmabahce palace displays everything that was wrong with their rule in the past days. The extravagant décor and design include silk carpets and crystal staircases. You need to buy tour tickets to see the Selanik and harem sections, but they are well worth it. Dolmabahce palace was also where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish republic's founding father, died.
Yildiz Palace: This landmark is the last example of Ottoman architecture. The name translates into Star palace, and it was commissioned in 1880 by Abdulhamid the second. Do check before visiting because they sometimes close for renovation work. Although it pales compared to Dolmabahce palace, it includes highlights like the Yildiz theatre, opera house, and porcelain factory.
Istanbul Naval Museum: First opening its doors in 1897, this museum perfectly displays the old Ottoman navy in all its glory. Containing many artefacts of maritime importance, one artefact is the Byzantine chain that hung across the Golden Horn to stop ships from entering.
Other Museums: The above three are the most popular, but should you be a fan of museums, also see Asiyan, Besiktas JK, Esma Sultan, Malta. MSU Painting and Sculpture, Cadir museums and the Ihlamur. Bes sure to check opening times before going, since some close on Mondays.
9: Buying Property and Living in Besiktas
Besiktas is popular with ex-pats who moved to Istanbul with their families to pursue their careers. One advantage for them is excellent international schools, from preschool to universities. Additionally, with other amenities like hospitals and shopping centres all practically on the doorstep, Besiktas ticks all the boxes as an ideal place to live. Property in Besiktas often incurs premium price tags. However, if you buy for investment purposes, this reflects on long-term rental yields, being amongst the highest in Istanbul since Besiktas features many distinguished areas.
Also, About Istanbul
Seven Charming Bosphorus Villages: Formerly unknown fishing villages, many Bosphorus destinations are rising in popularity as more people seek to discover Istanbul's artistic side away from mainstream tourism. The internet takes credit for their fame. However, their real estate markets are Istanbul's most expensive and desirable. Local delicacies, outstanding scenery, historic mosques, churches, and waterside Ottoman Yali mansions are just a few reasons to visit these Bosphorus villages.
Things to do on the Bosphorus: The vast range of things to do on the Bosphorus Strait adds another dimension to Istanbul's tourism industry. The Sultanahmet area is an excellent introduction to Turkey's most popular tourist district but only portrays a snippet of Istanbul's history, namely the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Indeed, touring Bosphorus attractions gives an insight into small villages, their culture, traditions, and day-to-day life.
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