Beykoz – a peaceful waterside retreat in the suburbs of Istanbul

With one of the most spectacular views of the Bosphorus, delightedly, Beykoz town center still belongs to its residents.

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Beykoz, once upon a time a remote fishing village with limited access to transportation and communication to central Istanbul is today linked by a very long stretch of road.   In fact, the coastline leading up to Beykoz is home to some of the most expensive houses and the grandest of the huge wooden Ottoman seaside houses called ‘yali’ so how Beykoz center has been spared the overdevelopment witnessed in many parts of the city is beyond my comprehension. 

Beykoz derives its name from “Bey”, meaning prince, gentleman or lord and “Koz” Persian for village.  Another etymology is that Koz is a type of walnut Beykoz is famous for.                                                                                           

Strolling along the waterfront, this pleasant and peaceful suburb perched at the upper end of the Bosphorus on the Anatolian side of Istanbul creates a real sense of intimacy with the sea.

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The town centre has a village feel to it with many aging buildings on the hills with the most spectacular and panoramic views of the sea.

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The pace of life is fairly slow, never turbulent.

It is a typical working class residential area with a picture perfect setting. Apart from picnickers who hit the forested areas up the hill, there are seldom any tourists – local or foreign –  flocking  to Beykoz.

There ferries usually haul the locals between the Anatolian and European sides, a few carrying goods.

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All the economic activity takes place around the town square where the local mosque and a very picturesque fountain is situated.
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There is very little in the way of night life or even evening life as a matter of fact.
Most of the restaurants are local eateries, closing down after dark.
The feel is cozy, quaint and very peaceful.

One of the most well-known values of Beykoz is “Chesm-i Bülbül”(the nightingale’s eye). It is a work of art in crystal glass decorated with spiral stripes and flower designs. A Chesm-i bülbül artifact is made by placing thin and coloured glass sticks in liquid class and spinning to give the shape.  The ends of the spinning patterns look like a bird’s eye at the bottom of the object d’art, hence the name.  Owing to this art, Beykoz has been known and recognized all around the world.  Unfortunately the factory which was a pioneer in the industrial and labour history of Turkey was closed down at the beginning of the 2000s, the production of Chesm-i Bülbül being continued elsewhere. 

Even though Beykoz is not a conveninent location for me, I frequent this little suburb for my monthly hair dressing sessions,  elated to finally have found an unpretentious and disciplined salon (Erdinc Kuafor) with the most sympathetic crew.  I relax by the window, sip my Turkish coffee, enjoying the view of the Bosphorus watching the steady stream of pedestrians, and the endless succession of ferry boats sailing to and from the pier as the girls pamper me.

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It is concerning to read the Beykoz mayor’s interviews who seems to be determined to carry Beykoz into a “world city” category by 2023, in the centenary of the foundation of the Republic.  Plans include a Faculty of Medicine, a 7 star hotel and an offshore marina.  My feeling is that once the coastal band opens to capitalist enterprises, the profile of Beykoz will change dramatically.  It will no longer be that picture perfect, intimate and warm suburb which first and foremost belongs to its residents. I hope I am mistaken and all the developments to take place will benefit the locals, Beykoz’s real owners, without depreciating its charm.

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Where is Beykoz in Istanbul?:

Beykoz

How to Get to Beykoz:

By car, the coastal road is very picturesque but can get congested.  The motorway is more express but still beautiful as there is still little development on the way.
The best alternative in my opinion is by ferry.  The link for the ferry timetables is as below:

http://www.sehirhatlari.com.tr/en

4 thoughts on “Beykoz – a peaceful waterside retreat in the suburbs of Istanbul

    1. The best way will be to catch a tram to Eminönü from Sultanahmet and then a ferry to Eminönü to Beykoz . The ferry station in Eminönü is just a few mins walk from the tram station. Beykoz is very small and very local, no fancy restaurants but lots of small old buildings to photograph and of course a magnificent view. If you go in the late afternoon, you may want to take a walk in the direction of Çengelköy, which is a long walk but You will get beautiful shots of the European side. Another route I can recommend you is a ferry to Çengelköy from Eminönü which may be a bit more active. Summer in Beykoz may be a little stagnant in Beykoz with most people on vacation. Whichever route you take enjoy

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