The Belgrade Forest


When Constantinople fell to the Turks, the city appeared to have a significant problem. For the first time, the Ottomans came in touch with a complicated system of a Byzantine aqueduct, which they didn’t know how to maintain. The thing which supplied the whole town with fresh drinking water from a nearby forest tormented the city authorities and population for almost 70 years. On the fateful 28th of August 1521, Belgrade fell into the hands of the Turks. Suleiman the Magnificent successfully completed his first campaign, and opened the way for continuous conquest of European territories, which was only ended before the gates of Vienna. During his short stay in the Belgrade, occupied with preparations for an offensive on the Kingdom of Hungary, Suleiman noted one important thing. The old water supply system, the same as that in Istanbul, was working smoothly in Belgrade. Nowadays this construction is known as the Belgrade Roman aqueduct. The inhabitants of Belgrade knew how to maintain a complicated system of water supplies and springs, so the Sultan made a decision to immediately migrate them to Istanbul in order to revitalize the neglected aqueducts, springs and water pipes. On the trying march that lasted for two months and was over 950 kilometers long, over 2,000 Serbs moved to Istanbul and settled in today’s Belgrade Forest (Turkish: Belgrad Ormanı). Now you know why it carries the name of the Serbian capital. Serbs lived there under the full protection of the Sultan, and soon fresh, drinking water started flowing again in Istanbul. In Belgrade Forest, there was a settlement of Beligrad, where the Serbs maintained 9 Istanbul water sources. The village had its own parts, New (Jena), Middle (Orta) and Sultan’s Belgrade. At the end of the 19th century, Serbs moved to a village of Bahçeköy, where their descendants live to this day.

Nowadays, Belgrade Forest is a nature reserve under state protection, spanning over 5,500 hectares. It contains numerous plant and animal species, and it is regarded among the inhabitants of Istanbul as the best place for recreation and relaxation in nature.

The Belgrade Forest on map: