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On the European shore of the Bosporus, northeast of Taksim, the district Beşiktaş can be found. It is one of the oldest districts of the city and a major metropolitan area and transportation hub. In addition, it houses Istanbul’s skyscraper-filled business district.
It is said that the name of the area originates from the Ottoman period. Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa, the most famous admiral of Ottoman Empire, built five stone pillars in the district to do service as ship moorings. These ship moorings are called Beştaş and over time, the name of the districted turned into Beşiktaş.
Although Beşiktaş is one of the oldest areas in Istanbul, it only became a settlement when the Ottomans started to rule Istanbul. Before the Ottomans, Black Sea rebels roamed the shores of the Bosporus outside of the city walls, so most people tried to stay away from the place. When the Ottomans gained control over Istanbul they established secured settlements in the previously dangerous areas outside the city walls, and more and more people started to flock to the Bosporus shore. In the early days of the Ottoman Empire, Admiral Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa used the Beşiktaş shore as a port for Empirical Navy. In addition, he built himself a palace and settled down in Beşiktaş. In the 17th century, the shoreline had been built completely and the area turned into a place where the Ottoman Sultans went to relax and enjoy entertainment. Most of the palaces in Beşiktaş were built in this period. After the Turkish Republic was founded, Beşiktaş kept its importance due to the presence of Atatürk. Whenever he was in Istanbul he usually stayed in Dolmabahçe Palace, located in Beşiktaş. Beşiktaş officially became a district in 1930. In the time before that it was a neighbourhood of Beyoğlu.
Overview of the district
Beşiktaş, Yıldız, Bebek, Arnavutköy and Ortaköy are the historical neighbourhoods of Beşiktaş. The rest of neighbourhoods, such as Levent Etiler, and Akatlar were founded after 1950s. Beşiktaş, the central neighbourhood of the district, is one of the oldest neighbourhood of the city, its main attraction being the Beşiktaş. It is a place where you can buy cheap clothing, get your fresh vegetables and fish or have a meal at one of the many restaurants. The district is also home to the Istanbul Naval Museum, one of the most important naval museums in Turkey with an impressive collection of Ottoman Navy items. The Sinan Paşa Mosque, built by famous Ottoman architect Sinan is another impressive historical building located in the area. Apart from the buildings and the Bazaar, Beşiktaş is also the main transportation nexus. You can easily catch a ferry to the Asian side and many buses to other districts leave from the main bus station.
When writing about Beşiktaş it is impossible not to write about the Beşiktaş football. In the middle of bazaar mentioned earlier, you can find a big statue of an eagle, the is symbol of the Beşiktaş football team. Beşiktaş supporters are famous not only for their unconditional support of the team, but also their political stance. During the Gezi Parkı protests, Beşiktaş supporters won the hearts of the protesters and resisted the police violence from start to end. In the end, the government arrested the head of the Beşiktaş fans.
Photo Credits: Carlo Rainone