THE PARKS AND RECREATION AREAS OF ISTANBUL
Istanbul is a centre of attraction with the historical and cultural riches as well as the natural beauties. You can visit http://www.istanbultabiatparklari.gov.tr/tabiat-parklari and find detailed information on the history, structure, transportation and particulars about the parks, recreation areas, historical pavilions and mansions in Istanbul.
Kemerburgaz City Forest (Eyupsultan)
Located in Gokturk Pirincci Village of Eyupsultan, Kemerburgaz City Forest was opened to visitors on October 26, 2019 as the biggest city forest of Turkey. The forest with many facilities from picnic areas to restaurants and cafés is one of the most significant projects that regreen Istanbul.
The city forest or, formally, Kemerburgaz International City Forest is established on 5,526,000 sqm land. However, only 1,500,000 sqm area is open to visitors. Kemerburgaz City Forest offers various activities with a watch tower, children’s playgrounds, football pitch, tent and camping areas, country restaurants, country cafés, bicycle renting opportunities, souvenir shops, volleyball court, cattle barns, pony barns and organic products bazaar. Apart from these, the forest also contains ATV renting opportunities, an ice rink (only during winter months), places of prayer, administrative and personnel buildings, 357 thousand sqm lawn, more than 8 thousand trees, 420 thousand shrubs and 120 pergolas.
Camlica Hill (Uskudar – Kisikli)
Camlica is a hill that dominates Istanbul. Marmara, Adalar, Halic and Beyoglu… All these lie in the view from the hill including the Black Sea landscape when there is clear weather. You can easily immerse yourself in a peaceful silence with a simit (Turkish bagel) and a glass of tea.
Fatih Grove – Otagtepe Park (Beykoz – Kavacik )
Fatih Grove is the former Otagtepe Park. Viewing Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Bogazici bridges with a bird’s-eye view, the park fascinates with the unique seascape.
Tasdelen Recreation Area (Cekmekoy)
The name of the Tasdelen Recreation Area derives from the Tasdelen spring among oak, pine and hornbeam trees. The place was dedicated as Tasdelen Natural Spring Water by Hafsa Hatun, the mother of Suleiman I.It is believed that the water heals various diseases and particularly kidney stones. Tasdelen spring water was also used during the illness of Ataturk. Tasdelen Recreation Area also hosts concerts, picnics, festivals and wedding organizations.
Polonezkoy Natural Park (Beykoz – Polonezkoy)
Situated in Beykoz, Istanbul, Polonezkoy Natural Park is the first and the biggest natural park of Turkey since 1994. Previously called Adamkoy by the Ottomans, this Polish village later received the name “Polonez Karyesi” (Polonaise Village). In 1894, the government granted citizenship to the refugees who lived here. In 1923, the name of the village changed to Polonezkoy (another form of Polonaise Village). Established on around 3,000 hectares, the natural park is home to a rich flora and fauna.
Avcikoru Natural Park (Sile)
The daily use area in the Natural Park contains a country restaurant, stall and a children’s playground. This area also serves as a picnic area for visitors. The visitors can go on a nature walk through the paths. Furthermore, there are also the survivor tracks and children’s inflatable playgrounds in the park.
Elmas Burnu Recreation Area (Beykoz – Riva)
The Elmas Burnu Beach in the natural park is one of the three beaches in Riva. The beach has changing rooms and showers. The area is also eligible for water sports. The natural park includes picnic areas and camp areas for tents. The visitors can meet their needs using the country restaurant and stall in the park.
Goztepe Recreation Area (Beykoz- Goztepe)
Goztepe Natural Park and Recreation Area is located in Beykoz and was declared a natural park in 2013. The natural park which is mostly used as a picnic area is also suitable for birdwatching and nature walks. There are also spring festivals held in the area during certain periods.
Nezahat Gokyigit Botanical Garden (Atasehir)
Nezahat Gokyigit Botanical Garden was established by Ali Nihat Gokyigit in 1995 as a memorial park in the name of his wife, Nezahat Gokyigit. Therefore, the planting and afforestation activities were applied for a ‘memorial park’ in the beginning. Around 50,000 trees and shrubs were planted in 46 hectares of the park. Later on, activities started to reclassify the park as a botanical garden. The park was opened to visitors in 2002 and renamed as Nezahat Gokyigit Botanical Garden in 2003.
Aydos Forest (Kartal)
Aydos Forest is a unique oxygen-rich recreation area and forms a fantastic duo with the Aydos Pond. You can sip your tea and picnic near the pond in this spectacular atmosphere or view 537m high Aydos Hill which is the highest point of Istanbul. The fact that the forest was used as a hunting area during the Ottoman Period reveals that pine trees were quite abundant in the forest.
Sakli Gol Lake (Sile – Kamandere Village)
Sakli Gol Lake is a reservoir in the territories of Kamandere Village, Sile. Preferred by the citizens of Istanbul as a weekend refuge, this beautiful area offers enjoyable walking tracks and delicious breakfast to nature lovers. Visitors can do shopping in the small bazaar where natural products are sold by the local people on the way to the reservoir.
Mihrabad Recreation Area (Uskudar – Kanlica)
Mihrabad Recreation Area was presented to Rukiye Hanim, the daughter of Misirli Abbas Halim Pasa, as a price for seeing the bride’s face during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. Having hosted many melodious nights in the moonlight for centuries and served as a home to sultans, the area also inspired many artists with the splendid landscape. The recreation area offers services with a restaurant, café, special party and organization areas, social and cultural activity areas, walking tracks and an amphitheatre.
Hacet River Recreation Area (Tuzla)
Declared as a natural park in 2012, Hacet River Natural Park covers 16 hectares and derives the name from the stream passing through the park. The natural park also bears traditional significance for citizens as the Hacet Spring is believed to be sacred. In general, the area is habitat to common oak, blackberry and buddleja davidii while the dominant tree is Turkish pine.
Gokturk Pond (Eyup – Kemerburgaz)
Located in Eyup, Istanbul, Gokturk Pond Natural Park was declared as a natural park in 2011. Gokturk Lake Natural Park derives the name from the Gokturk Pond which is partly in the park area. Karanlik Dere Stream and the tributaries tail into the pond. The prevailing trees are oak and hornbeam. Gokturk Pond Natural Park has a rich flora and fauna owing to nearby Belgrad Forest. The natural park is also a point of attraction with the daily use areas and suitability for nature walks and bicycle tours around the pond.
Maresal Fevzi Cakmak Recreation Area (Catalca)
Bearing the name of a great personage from the history of the Republic of Turkey, Maresal Fevzi Cakmak Recreation Area is one of the resorts and picnic places in Catalca. The pine trees in patches add another beauty to the climate of colours. The pool in the area serves in summer months. It is possible to view the wide Thracian territories and the Catalca Train Station from the height in the entrance.
Ataturk Arboretum (Sariyer)
Arboretum; is a place where trees and shrubs are grown and protected. Another name for arboretum is a tree park. These botanical gardens are also important for they perform scientific researches.
Drawing attention with ever-green flora and fascinating natural atmosphere, Ataturk Arboretum also contains the first plant nursery of Turkey which was established in 1961. The place resembles an open air museum for there are many trees and unfamiliar plant types and animals in the arboretum.
Emirgan Grove (Sariyer)
Emirgan Grove was formerly known as the Feridun Garden. It is known that Feridun Bey, a marksman who died in 1583, had a mansion here. The place also contains pavilions and gardens built for Emirgun Han. Emirgan Grove is one of the most popular groves in Istanbul and is located on the European side between Baltalimani and Istinye lying on a hillside and ridge in the northwest of Emirgan quarter. Two connected ponds towards the hilltop endow a beautiful look reflecting like mirrors. Beyond the ponds, there is a cascading waterfall behind which you can enter into a cave through a small path, stairs and bridges. In 1979, the Yellow Mansion in the grove was restored by Turkish Turing and Automobile Company and serves as a café. In 1982, the Pink Mansion was restored and serves as a café on the first floor with a museum house and Bogazici library on the upper floors. And the White Mansion… This mansion was restored by Turkish Turing and Automobile Company and transformed into a classical music complex.
Ulus Park (Besiktas)
Blending green with aqua blue, the park has a fascinating landscape dominating the Bosporus. Visitors can see the Bosphorus Bridge, Topkapi Palace and Uskudar from the park. There are also special restaurants as well as public areas.
Bayrampasa Adapark City Park (Bayrampasa)
Built on July 30, 2003 on 480,000 sqm area, Bayrampasa Adapark is the biggest entertainment park in Turkey. The park draws attention with the artificial pond, funfair, children’s playground, farm areas and an amphitheatre. The park also organizes festivals and concerts during summer months. Apart from these, there are also a mini zoo, bazaar, walking tracks, hobby gardens, exhibition area and indoor and outdoor sports areas.
Imrahor Recreation Area (Gaziosmanpasa – Arnavutkoy)
Established to protect the forest and evaluate the water resources, Imrahor Pond is very close to the settlement area with the same name. Almost a natural park with the plant and animal species, the area blends forest green and aqua blue together. On the weekends, the resting and walking areas along the pond attract the attention of schools, associations, companies and mostly families.
Bakirkoy Botanical Garden (Bakirkoy)
Bakirkoy Botanical Park was opened to visitors in 2013. The park contains the highest playgrounds of Turkey with two 11,50m towers. The park welcomes visitors with dinosaurs in the entrance. Another aspect of the park is the solar panels which provide the required electric power. Apart from the botanical areas, the park also contains children’s playgrounds, statues, a natural pond, decorative pools, resting areas for migrating birds, picnic areas and social facilities with a children’s playground. Everything is also tailored for the elderly and the disabled in Bakirkoy Botanical Garden. The park administration allocates a golf cart for the elderly and disabled citizens.
Mimar Sinan City Forest (Eyup – Alibeykoy)
The recreation area is established around the reservoir. The city park offers car park areas, picnic tables, outdoor tea cafés, a horsemanship training place, children’s playgrounds and special parks, paintball, walking tracks and bicycle routes. Situated in Sultangazi, the forest also harbours high and wooden watch towers where visitors can climb and see Istanbul from an altitude.
Mehmet Akif Ersoy Recreation Area (Sariyer)
One of the nine natural parks in Belgrad Forest, the area receives the name from poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy. As one of the most crowded bird passage areas, Belgrad Forest hosts water, prey and singing birds during migration periods. Visitors also have the opportunity to see the Black Sea mole and globally endangered tortoise specie. The place also renders services with the picnic area, resting areas and cafés.
Yildiz Park (Besiktas – Ortakoy)
Yildiz Park is originally known as the Yildiz Grove. During the Ottoman Period, sultans stayed here to hunt and rest. The park serves as an ideal recreational area to take a walk, ride a bicycle and observe the squirrels on trees and pretty water animals in ponds. Yildiz Park is both a natural set for wedding photos and an ideal spot for nature photographers. Here, it is possible to shoot nice photos with the suspended wooden bridges, waterfalls, the pond and the nature. There are also two mansions in Yildiz Park named the Malta and Cadir Mansions. However, these cannot be visited for sightseeing purposes. Both are used as restaurants.
Gulhane Park (Fatih – Cankurtaran)
Gulhane Park was employed in the Byzantine Period as an arsenal and barracks while later various entertainment events and shows were held in the following periods such as wrestling and javelin. There were also many obelisks erected in Gulhane Park to commemorate these events. Sadrazam Pasa ordered the Incili Mansion to be built here for Murad III. After the sultans moved to the Dolmabahce Palace and the trees and mansions in the park were removed following the European railways’ journey to Sirkeci through Sarayburnu, Gulhane Park declined as an outdated entertainment area and started to be called “Lousy Kagithane”. In the 1880s, Abdulhamid II allowed the first great museum of the Empire to be built in this park. Following the construction of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Mayor Cemil Pasa performed the landscaping works and opened the park to visitors in 1912. Included in the “Sur-i Sultani” project by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Gulhane Park renders services to the as a “Has Bahce” (private garden of sultans). In 2008, the Istanbul Islamic Sciences and Technology History Museum was opened in the “Has Ahirlari” (private barns of sultan) building of the park.
Tibbi Bitkiler Bahcesi – Garden of Medical Herbs (Zeytinburnu)
The Garden of Medical Herbs was founded as part of the project initiated by Zeytinburnu Municipality and Merkez Efendi Medical Association in order to analyse and develop medical herbs, cultivate them using organic methods and convey the results to the public. The most important rule to take care when visiting the Garden of Medical Herbs is to avoid hurting the creatures. The place offers the opportunity to spend time in nature by serving as a volunteer gardener. Apart from the plants, the garden is also home to various poultry animals. There is also a shop where some products are sold to ensure income to the association. Here, visitors can buy marguerite, strawberry, lemon thyme and spearmint seedlings.
Rone Park (Bakirkoy – Yesilkoy)
The former name of Yesilkoy which was Saint Stefano (Ayastefanos) derives from a resident called Monsieur Rone. His father was a Lebanese prince while mother was a Greek woman from the region. The quarter harbours the graves of painters Pietro Bello and Count Amadeo Preziosi. Rone Park lies at the meeting point of the green land and the sea. The place offers various activities with the natural environment, mini zoo, children’s playgrounds, walking tracks and natural landscapes for photographers.