The first settlement in Beykoz is dated to 700 BC. Aryan Thracians founded the first known state on Beykoz’s coastal area, the Bebric Empire. The Beberics ruled for about 400 years and were destroyed by the Bithinians on 337 BC. The Bithinians’ rule goes on for nine generations, from father to son. Following the Bithinians, Eastern Rome starts ruling Beykoz in 73 BC, followed by Persians in 609 AC, by Arabs who laid a siege on Istanbul in 669, and then under the Eastern Roman Empire again. Legend states that the Bey (Gentlemen) of Izmit came to Beykoz in summers, during Osman Bey’s (Founder of the Ottoman Empire) era. This tradition was picked up by the following Beys of Izmit. Following the conquest of Anadolu Kavağı and Poyrazköy by Bayezid I to facilitate his passage to Thrace, the early Turkish rule begins in Istanbul.
The first known name of the region is Amnikos. Amnikos was the name of the Bithnian King who conquered the region in 337 BC. The name Beykos was first used by the Byzantians. “Kos” means “village” in the Persian language. The fact that the Beys of Kocaeli resided in this area in summers caused the region to be called “Bey-kos”, meaning the Village of Beys. However, İnciciyan suggests that the name “Beykoz” may have been bestowed on the area becuse of a gigantic walnut tree near the famous Ten Fountains. “Koz” means walnut in Persian. Ahmed Mithat Efendi, who himself is from Beykoz, opposes İnciciyan on this matter. He states that the second syllable of Beykoz is not “koz,” but “kos”.
Evliya Chalabi writes about Beykoz: “From the coastline, going beside the vineyards, three thousand paces south of Serviburnu, it is located beside a large harbor. It has eight hundred households, it is adorned by vineyards, gardens, flourishing and gigantic trees. Its people are vinegrowers, timbermen and fishermen. Evliya Çelebi’s contemporary, Eremya Çelebi shares an anecdote: “The Sultans go hunting in this area called Tokad Garden. A water sprout is seen on the ground beside the Beykoz Pier. Akbaba Suyu flows from the mountains to the sea. Both sides of the pier are fisheries.”
Beykoz also attracts the attention of court poets with its beauty. Beykoz is first mentioned in the couplets of Cemali, who is known to have deceased around 1510. The famous court poet Fenni (d. 1745) also writes praises for Beykoz. İzzet’s (d. 1798) poetry mentions Beykoz in great detail.
Bir deb varsa rakib İskele-i Hünkare
Bir iki Tokad ile itmelü teb’id-ü itab
Yalıköyü ne güzel cayi ferahtır baksan
Her soğuk su olamaz havz derununda habab
Beykoz’un çeşmebaşı hayli müreffih yerdir
Paşabağçesi, Çubuklu o dahi başka hisab
Hayli zendost yeridir azm idiyor şey ile şab
Hele şahane makam sahili Sultaniye.
One of our more literary-minded, poet Sultans , Selim III mentions Beykoz in his verses.
Let’s go to Üsküdar, since it’s time for lilacs With a couple of musical instruments and enchantresses, come enjoy yourself Let’s go to Beykoz from Sultaniye on foot Gidelim syr-ı çemenzar leylü nehar.
The number of poems written especially for Beykoz are not few. The most famous is written by Aşık Razi, a folk poet and Tophane clerk. The poet of Razi is also important in terms of Beykoz’s history and many places and landmarks that are not known today are included in the 60-verse poem.
Beykoz’s relationship with literature goes on in the next century. The events in the novel Kayıp Aranıyor (“Search for Missing”) by Sait Faik take place in Beykoz. The region called “an Istanbul village” in the novel is actually Beykoz. The oldest historical novel in which we can find Beykoz with its actual being is Turfanda mı Yoksa Turfa mı (Out of Season or Strange?), written by Mizancı Murat Bey in 1891. The novel starts with the Volkan Ship, belonging to the Lloyd company and traveling between Istanbul-Varna entering the Bosphorus from the Black Sea. Nabizade Nazım, makes Safder and Fahriye at Beykoz Prairie in his story called Hala Güzel (Still Beautiful). This encounter sparks a love that leads to marriage.
Mehmet Rauf writes in detail about Suad and Necip’s sightseeing in Beykoz on Süreyya’s boat in his novel Eylül (September). Again, the events in Mehmed Rauf’s Karanfil and Yasemin (Cloves and Jasmines) take place in Akbaba Village. The author gathers its characters in the mansion of Kadri Pasha for a weekend. Halide Edip’s BEYKOZ IS “HERE” 4 novel Tatarcık, takes place in a hidden corner of the Bosphorus, in Poyrazköy. Ahmed Mithat Efendi, himself a Beykozian, shows Beykoz to his readers from another perspective in his novel called Müşahedat (Testimony). In his novel, Çengi (Dancer), the Turkish Don Quixote, Daniş lives in Beykoz. The list goes on.
Before the establishment of Şirket-i Hayriye (ferry company), Beykoz was connected to the nearby waterfront villages and the rest of Istanbul with small boats. Going from Istanbul to Beykoz is an adventure on its own, the trip is not an excursion. Those who want to go to Istanbul come to the famous prairie promenade and bring their tents, mats, pots and pans, and food with them. They camp on the prairie and sleep for at least one night. The seasonal migrations of those who work in Istanbul and come to Beykoz for the summer are conducted with the market boat assigned to serve the town. Following the establishment of Şirket-i Hayriye, regular ferry runs start to and from Beykoz, just like other Bosphorus villages. The company’s publication “Boğaziçi” states in 1914 that the boats make the 17.5 kilometers trip in 55 minutes, without stopping at other Bosphorus villages. The same publication registers the daily commuters from Beykoz to be 695 in winter, and 1087 in summer.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Beykoz consists of Muslim and Christian neighborhoods. In addition to our Greek and Armenian citizens, Beykoz has a Jewish population who live there all year long. The muslim population of Beykoz consists of the Black-Sea coast people, Abkhaz and Circassian immigrants.
The total population of Beykoz in 1960s, with its 15 districts and 22 villages is 58.919. Beykoz is the factory basin of Istanbul in those years. Beykoz Shoe, Beykoz Tekel (alcoholic drinks and cigarettes), and Paşabahçe Glass Bottle Factories employ thousands of workers. Moreover, Paşabahçe Glass Factory is the raison d’être of tens of glass workshops set up around it. The settlements squeezed to the coastline first expand to the hills parallel to the shore, and then to the flatlands behind the hills because of population pressure. The factories are non-functional today. However, Beykoz starts receiving domestic migration after the construction of Mehmed the Conqueror Bridge over the Bosphorus. The recently completed Selim I Bridge is also expected to increase the population pressure. Beykoz today, has 45 districts with around 250 thousand people.