Located on the European side, along the Sea of Marmara, very outside of the city center, and bordering Tekirdağ Province, Silivri is one of Istanbul’s 39 districts and it consists of 8 neighborhoods and 18 villages. The share of Silivri population within the total of Istanbul is about %1. Still, Silivri is more populated than Şile, Çatalca or Adalar districts. On the other hand Silivri becomes one of the most populated districts of Istanbul during the summer times. It has 45km long coast and this makes Silivri one of the popular summer resort for Istanbulites. 

The fort and town of Silivria, the ancient Selymbria, on the Sea of Marmara by F. Hervé

For those who knows Silivri’s today appearance, what I’m going to write next may sound funny however the fact that Silivri held its importance in every era of history thanks to its natural harbor and location. It’s foundation dates back ancient times. First captured by Greeks then Persians occupied it from Greek hands. In some part of era even Spartans captured the town. Eventually Silivri found its peace under the Byzantines. Many historians say that Silivri had a special place in the heart of Emperor Justinian I and during his reign Silivri had its best times. Numerous mulberry trees planted, sericulture began, and wine became an important economy. In short, the town got wealthy.

The area of Silivri stayed under the Byzantine rule until Constantinople’s fall to Ottomans in 1453. The peace in Silivri continued under Byzantine in the era of the Ottomans but ended eventually when the time came to First Balkan War. Bulgarian army occupied Silivri for 9 months. Then, the Greeks occupied the city in 20th July 1920. They ruled the area for 2 years and then retreated from Silivri after Mudanya Armistice was signed. The Turks recaptured the area on 1st November 1922.

Despite having a rich history, there’s almost no historical building within the district. There are two main reasons behind. First, Silivri had suffered from the big earthquake in 1509 which was later named as “Minor Doomsday” and razed completely. This repeated itself a few times more. Secondly, the necessary importance has not been given. So, the remaining after the earthquakes were destructed by occupations, by human beings.

An aerial view of Silivri during the 1960s
An aerial view of Silivri during the 1960s

After occupations Silivri has never developed as a commercial nor residential area due to its location. – Even it takes almost one and half hour to arrive to Silivri from city center nowadays – Eventually it started to serve as a summer resort for the Istanbulites. This is also the reason why the district has a little to offer. Nothing more than cinemas, shopping malls, a few pubs, cafes and parks… That’s it! On the other hand expecting such urban areas from Silivri is disrespectful itself. In the fertile of lands of Silivri wheat has been planted, sunflower has been planted or it was barley… Fruit rarely grown in here however melon of Silivri is very famous in Turkey. By the way there were lots of vineyards here until 1970s.

When one talks about Silivri, the first thing comes to mind is Silivri’s yoghurt which was produced in the previous years. It was said that usually Bosnians and Albanians were wandering around the streets, carrying very big yoghurt trays, sometimes shouting “Silivri’s yoghurt” and sometimes playing songs with their small instruments or singing their songs in order to show people that they were there. If someone wanted to buy, they would have bought a little at one time because there were not many fridges and yoghurt was food that easy to spoil. As I said the tradition is over. However, Silivri Municipality still organizes a “Yoghurt Festival” every year. The first one was organized in July, 1962.

The marina of Silivri in the background

1970s and 80s were times that Silivri had its finest times. Imagine that the water was very clean and people were enjoying it for free. People could freely lie on the beach, play guitars, sing, walk on the beach under the moonlight or watch moonlight. Everything changed very fast and they all became a thing in the past. The resort hotels and country clubs with sport facilities occupied its coast. Some people started to ask entrance fee to the beach or even some of them had a signs saying “It belongs to the hotel” on them. In addition to the industrialization is there any possibility that the water remain still as clean as in the past? Well, the answer is no but it is not really important because with all this development it is hard to find a stretch of open coastline.

There’s no way to end Silivri article without saying something about Anastasian Wall. Known as the Long Walls of Thrace, Anastasian Wall was constructed by Byzantine emperor Anastasisus I as part of additional outer defense system for Constantinople during the 5th century and probably was in use until the 7th century. It lies 65 km west of Istanbul and stretches from the Black Sea coast across the peninsula to the coast of the Sea of Marmara to the west of Silivri. Anastasian Wall is the most famous wall of antiquity in Europe together with Hadrian’s Wall in Britain.

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34570 Silivri, İstanbul
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