Clockwise, from top: Ortaköy Mosque, Arnavutköy, Levent and Etiler, view of Büyükdere Avenue, Akaretler Row Houses, Dolmabahçe Palace

Location of Beşiktaş in Istanbul
Coordinates (Beşiktaş Square):
41°02′33″N 29°00′26″E / 41.04250°N 29.00722°E / 41.04250; 29.00722Coordinates: 41°02′33″N 29°00′26″E / 41.04250°N 29.00722°E / 41.04250; 29.00722
Country Turkey
Region Marmara Region
Province Istanbul Province
Settled 4th century CE
District established 1930
Municipality founded 1984
  Municipal president None (removed from office)
  Kaymakam Dr. Abdullah Kalkan
  District 21.33 km2 (8.24 sq mi)
Population (2017)[2]
  District 185,447
  District density 8,700/km2 (23,000/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Beşiktaşlı

Beşiktaş (pronounced [beˈʃiktaʃ]) is a district and municipality of Istanbul, Turkey, located on the European shore of the Bosphorus strait. It is bordered on the north by Sarıyer and Şişli, on the west by Kağıthane and Şişli, on the south by Beyoğlu, and on the east by the Bosphorus. Directly across the Bosphorus is the district of Üsküdar.

The district includes a number of important sites along the European shore of the Bosphorus, from Dolmabahçe Palace in the south to the Bebek area in the north. It is also home to many inland (and relatively expensive, upper-middle class) neighborhoods such as Levent and Etiler. Some of its other well-known neighborhoods include Yıldız, Kuruçeşme, Ortaköy, and Arnavutköy.

Although it is a relatively small district of Istanbul, both in terms of population and area, Beşiktaş is one of the city's most important areas due to its business and shopping areas, historic sites, universities, scenic views of the Bosphorus strait, and feeder roads for the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges passing through it. The district is also the leading financial center of Turkey.[3]

In a ranking of all Turkish districts, Beşiktaş placed first overall due to its high quality of life, prosperity, and cultural level.[4] The municipality is taking part in the Cities4Europe campaign[5] and has qualified as a "European 12 Star City".[6]

In 2016 and 2017, there were two terror attacks in the district. One was outside a stadium and the other was at a nightclub.[7]


The district takes its name from the Beşiktaş quarter located in the modern-day Sinanpaşa neighborhood. Along with Çarşı, this historic centre is sometimes referred to as Köyiçi (roughly "inner village") by locals.

The word beşik means "cradle" in Turkish, while taş means "stone".

According to one story, there was a Byzantine church in modern-day Beşiktaş with the name Kounopetra, Greek for "stone cradle". The church was built to honor a relic, a stone reportedly taken from the stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. This stone was later relocated to Hagia Sophia and disappeared during the Fourth Crusade, possibly to be sold in Europe's relics market.[8]

Another story states that a cleric from a Saint Menas (Aya Menas) Church where Beşiktaş now is returned from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with a cradle-shaped stone used in the baptism of Jesus and placed it in the church.[9]

One other explanation is that the name is a corruption of beş taş, Turkish for "five stones", referring to the five stone pillars built to moor ships by Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha.[10]


The Bosphorus has been settled for a long time, and there are many places of historical interest in Beşiktaş. The area is believed to have been settled by Constantine the Great during his reign (306-337 CE).[3] This stretch of the Bosphorus shore is somewhat sheltered from the strong northeasterly winds that bring storms to Istanbul, and thus it forms an ideal mooring place for ships.

In Byzantine times, the area was called Diplokionion, meaning "double pillar" in Greek.

In ancient times the villages on the Bosphorus shore were isolated communities in the forest that lined the water-side. The Bosphorus, however, was prominent in the history and mythology of the ancient Greeks, and villages like Beşiktaş would have had their place in traditional tales such as Jason and the Argonauts. In the Byzantine, era churches and a monastery were built and the tradition of having a summer palace on the Bosphorus was begun by the Byzantines with their Ayios Mamas palace complex. The Bosphorus settlements however, being outside the city walls, were vulnerable to raiders from the Black Sea coasts and little of this architecture or the statuary that would have decorated it so gloriously has survived.

In the Ottoman period, once the emperors had established control of the Black Sea coasts, the Ottoman navy was docked in the Bosphorus and the Bosphorus villages became safe and attractive again. One man in particular, the legendary sailor Barbarossa Hayreddin, built his palace and mosque in Beşiktaş, making it his home. By now Beşiktaş was an established Bosphorus crossing for caravans trading across Anatolia and along the Silk Road, and for the great Ottoman armies.

This coast was very attractive to the Ottoman rulers, who built hunting lodges and then great palaces in the area, and the Beşiktaş district today contains some of the most important and attractive Ottoman buildings. The area was thus the scene of great intrigues of the late Ottoman period such as the dethronement of Sultan Abdülaziz at Dolmabahçe Palace in a coup in 1876, the announcement of the founding of the Ottoman parliament in 1908, and the deposing of Sultan Abdul Hamid II at Yıldız Palace in 1909.

Following the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the Ottoman ruling family was deported and the palaces and mansions along the coast were emptied out. Some were given to new government ministries, some used as schools and other public buildings, others were demolished.

Today, it is widely accepted by the residents of the area that the most significant resident of Beşiktaş was Zübeyde Hanım, the mother of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who lived in the old quarter at the heart of Beşiktaş, literally right next to the then headquarters of Beşiktaş J.K.[11]

Besides the more historic areas such as Yıldız, Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme, Arnavutköy, Bebek, many residential areas in the district started to form around the 1950s. For example, the foundations of Levent (named after the Levent Farm previously located there) were established in the 1950s when construction began on a prestigious suburban mass housing project.[12] The Etiler, Konaklar, Akatlar, Nisbetiye, Levazım and Kültür neighborhoods followed soon after.


Beşiktaş is located on the European side of Istanbul Province. It became an independent district in 1930 after its separation from Beyoğlu, and the municipal government was founded in 1984.[3] The district is composed of 23 neighborhoods.


Local election results

Beşiktaş Municipal Elections[13]
Year Municipal President Party Vote
1984 Mümtaz Kola ANAP %59,22
1989 Ayfer Atay SHP %47,79
1994 Ayfer Atay SHP %29,26
1999 Yusuf NamoğluANAP%28,95
2004 İsmail Ünal CHP %44,61
2009 İsmail Ünal CHP %60,66
2014 Murat Hazinedar CHP %76,29

Historic quarters

Arnavutköy: Located between Bebek and Kuruçeşme.

Aşiyan: Located between Bebek and Rumelihisarı.

Balmumcu: Located along Barboros Boulevard, between Yıldız and Zincirlikuyu junction.

Bebek: The origins for Bebek's name go back to the Conquest of Istanbul.

Beşiktaş: One of Istanbul's oldest quarters and the origin of the district's name.

Kuruçeşme: Located along the Bosphorus and known for its mansions.

Ortaköy: Known today for its iconic mosque and square. Historically a multicultural area.

Yıldız: Located to the east of Barbaros Boulevard.

Places of interest

Beşiktaş is home to many historic and modern places of interest. Among the most notable are Dolmabahçe Palace, Çırağan Palace, Yıldız Palace, and Ortaköy Mosque.

The Levent neighborhood is home to many modern shopping malls and office buildings. Some of Turkey's tallest buildings are located in the area, along Büyükdere Avenue.



Sports and Beşiktaş J.K.

The area gives its name to Turkey's oldest sports club, Beşiktaş Jimnastik Kulübü (Beşiktaş Gymnastics Club), founded in 1903. The club's football team is one of the top three in Turkey, having won 15 Turkish Super League titles and participating regularly in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. The team played their home games at the historic İnönü Stadium, which was demolished in 2013 and replaced on the same grounds by the 41,903 seat Vodafone Park. The stadium is near Dolmabahçe Palace at the shore of the Bosphorus. The football team wears black and white shirts and is nicknamed the Black Eagles. The club has earned notoriety for its faithful fans, who have broken volume records with 132 decibel cheers.[14][15] BJK Akatlar Arena is the home of the basketball team. The club's most famous supporter group is called Çarşı, and is known for its involvement in social and political issues.

Besides Beşiktaş JK, the district is also home to the smaller yet historic Ortaköy SK. The Istanbul Specialized Swimming Club was the first specialized swimming club in the country. In addition, there are a number of other amateur sports clubs and Levent Tennis Club.

Many of the notable sporting facilities in the district belong to Beşiktaş JK; such as Vodafone Park, BJK Akatlar Arena, Süleyman Seba Sports Centre, Fulya Training Facilities and Çilekli Football Field.

Education and culture

Beşiktaş is arguably the most important educational center of Istanbul.[3] The central campuses of some of Turkey's leading universities, such as Boğaziçi University, Galatasaray University, and Yıldız Technical University are located in the district. The Turkish War Academies and central parts of Beykent University, Kadir Has University, Istanbul Technical University, and Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University can also be found here.[16]

Many notable primary and secondary schools such as Robert College, Etiler Anadolu Lisesi, the Istanbul Japanese School, MEF International School and the Etiler campus of the British International School Istanbul can be found in Beşiktaş.[17][18] A total of 43 K-12 schools (12 private) are listed by the municipality.[19]

Museums in the district include the Aşiyan Museum, the Beşiktaş JK Museum, Istanbul Naval Museum, Istanbul State Art and Sculpture Museum, Istanbul City Museum, Yıldız Palace Museum, and the Firefighting Museum.[20]

As of 2018, there are 18 art galleries, 20 libraries, 12 theatre venues, and 8 movie theatres with numerous screens listed by the municipality.[21][22][23][24] In addition, there are other notable performance venues such as Kuruçeşme Arena and Zorlu Performing Arts Center.

Beşiktaş Culture Center, founded in 1994 by Yılmaz Erdoğan and Necati Akpınar, is known nationwide for its theatre, cinema, and television productions.[25]


Beşiktaş is an important transport hub with ferries going to the Asian side and dozens of buses departing from the area.

International relations


The municipality is an associated partner of Eurocities and is involved in a number of working groups ranging from urban ageing to migration and integration.[26] It is also a part of the Cities4Europe campaign.[5]

Beşiktaş was awarded the '12 Star City' title for 2016 and 2017 by the Council of Europe.[6]

Twin municipalities


  1. "Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "About Beşiktaş: Heart of Istanbul". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  4. "İstanbul'un refah seviyesi en yüksek ilçesi". TRT Haber. 2014-02-01. Archived from the original on 2018-04-30. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  5. 1 2 "Beşiktaş Joins Eurocities' Campaign "Cities4Europe - Europe For Citizens"!". 2017-12-21. Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  6. 1 2 "Beşiktaş Once More Qualifies as a European 12 Star City!". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  7. Shaheen, Kareem (2017-01-01). "Turkey nightclub shooting: Istanbul on alert after gunman kills dozens". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  8. Stratton, Arthur (1972). Sinan: Biography of One of the World's Greatest Architects and a Portrait of the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-333-02901-1.
  9. Hürel, Haldun (2008). Semtleri, Mahalleri, Caddeleri ve Sokakları A'dan Z'ye İstanbul'un Alfabetik Öyküsü. İkarus. ISBN 978-975-999-290-3. Page 82.
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  14. UEFA: Pick of the week
  15. The Independent: Besiktas are proud of their stadium's record as the noisiest on the planet
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  17. "学校紹介". (Archive) Istanbul Japanese School. Retrieved on January 2, 2014.
  18. "Okulumuz Hakkında Etiler Anadolu Lisesi". T.C. MİLLÎ EĞİTİM BAKANLIĞI:. Retrieved on June 8, 2014. "Adres: Nisbetiye Caddesi Akmerkez Yanı, Etiler Beşiktaş"
  19. "K-12 EDUCATION". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  20. "MUSEUMS". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  21. "ART GALLERIES". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  22. "LIBRARIES". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  23. "THEATRES". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  24. "CINEMAS". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  25. "About BKM | BKM Online". Archived from the original on 2018-04-29. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
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