Beaches Of Istanbul

Don’t be fooled by the fact that you cannot swim in İstanbul, nowadays…

As a city basically surrounded by water on all sides, İstanbul was once (not a far far time away) the city of beaches. Of course we are talking about the Black Sea, Sea of Marmara (inland sea connecting to the Black Sea by the Bosporus and connected to the Aegean by the Dardanelles), The Bosporus and The Golden Horn.  Once on the sea shore you can jog, fish, sit in a fish restaurant or a cafe, enjoy the view, inhale the fresh air, delve into history, play music in an old mansion etc. Or swim? Unfortunately I am talking about a fact that no longer implies.

İstanbul first met with the sea baths or hamams before the beaches.

According to the records in 1867 there were at least 62 sea baths all over İstanbul. The sea hamams are the small wooden huts that are used on private basis by families to have their own their space and surely to enjoy the sea. It’s recorded that Yeşilköy, Bakırköy, Samatya, Yenikapı, Kumkapı, Çatladıkapı, Ahırkapı, Salıpazarı, Fındıklı, Kuruçeşme, Ortaköy, İstinye, Tarabya, Büyükdere, Yenimahelle, Beykoz, Paşabahçe, Kuleli, Çengelköyü, Beylerbeyi, Üsküdar, Salacak, Moda, Fenerbahçe, Caddebostan, Bostancı, Maltepe, Kartal, Pendik and Tuzla all had their own sea hamams which in time were convcerted in to the beaches of Istanbul.

The hamams were replaced by actual beaches during the occupations dates of İstanbul.

It’s funny how the story began;  Belarusians running away from the Russian Revolution settled down for a certain time in İstanbul in the district called Florya. Because of the heat and because of pleas the Belarusians started to use the beaches to clean up and to swim. Alienated to just actions the population of Istanbul would travel to Florya to observe what the Belarusians were doing. They would just sit down and watch those people swimming. Eventually open air inns started popping out along the shores and hence slowly the public started enjoying the sea. Funny as it may be but this is a true event…

With the New Republic the beaches started popping out all over İstanbul. With the evolvement of Westernization the Istanbul public started getting rid of their loose robes, pants and dresses. They actually started wearing swimsuits, the segregation of male and female eventually lost its meaning and all the public started enjoying what was just under their nose. Skins meet with suntan, young ladies meet with young muscular lifeguards, beaches embrace diving towers, people fall in love, enjoy the nature and live the beauties of the city has to offer. Hence the famous shores of Istanbul came to life.

But unfortunately this is an old story, not an ancient one just a recently passed story as we no longer have beaches. New beaches are being reinvented may be but honestly the people are  not the same. So what we have are stamped in postcards, black & white photographs and memories…