Besiktas were founded in 1903 making them the oldest sports club out of the Istanbul juggernauts but their football team dates to seven years later which was after the creation of Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. Now the Lions will argue that their club dates back to the 15th century and while it is true that their educational institution dates back to 1453 the sports club was founded in 1905.
Football, politics and society are intertwined in Turkey and to discover why we really need to take a look at how the sport developed. Football was introduced into Turkish society during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit II (r.1876-1909) and despite banning the sport it gained popularity in the Ottoman capital and Izmir.
Following his deposition from power in 1909, the ban was lifted and the sports clubs that participated in football could legally operate.
Besiktas were initially regarded as a club with close ties to the palace but after losing several members in the 1912 Balkan Wars and the battle of Gallipoli in 1914 they fell under foreign occupation in 1918 under the Mondros Treaty.
The club was threatened with early extinction and lost most their early trophies, medals and historical records. Besiktas joined the war of independence smuggling arms from the European side of Istanbul over to Anatolia and providing intelligence to the resistance struggle led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Following the foundation of the Turkish Republic football was legalised and Besiktas went onto become one of the most successful clubs in the country winning 13 league titles.
The Vodafone Arena may look brand new but it was built on the grounds of the historic İnönü stadium which was completed in 1943 – named after former president Ismet Inönü, a lifelong fan of the club.
The new Vodafone arena is a state of the art, 41,903 seater stadium. The Istanbul based club recently signed a $145 million deal with Vodafone which included shirt sponsorship as well as the stadium naming rights.
The distance between the pitch and the stands is just 6.15 metres and it is the first environmentally friendly stadium in Turkey.
The Besiktas stadium is set to become one of the most iconic landmarks in the city with views of both Europe and Asia overlooking the Bosphorus.
Situated across the road from the Dolmabahce Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus the Vodafone Arena really is a stunning stadium. In fact Pele once described the location as being one of the most beautiful in the world.
As stadiums go it is pretty special. Slap bang in the middle of one of the most desirable parts of city and a stones through from the traditional Besiktas heartland. The club is
Much like Fenerbahce’s Sukru Saracoglu, the Vodafone Arena is situated on Besiktas turf and their fanatical fans treat their manor as a fortress. The most well known firm is Carsi – which means downtown – and refers to the local supporters who gathered in the Besiktas downtown area before games. To illustrate just how passionate the fans are they managed to get McDonald’s to change their facade onlooking the street to black and white and the companies red and yellow colours bore an objectionable resemblance to the colours of Galatasaray. The ultra group have a riotous reputation with anarchist/left-wing leaning political undertones but have also been involved in noble causes with a reputation for defending the rights of the downtrodden.
The Vodafone Arena is easy to reach from just about every part of the city due to being located near one of the historic centres of Istanbul.
The stadium is 1km from Taksim Square which is a transportation hub. The square can be reached by metro (line 2), historic tramway 5, and is served by many buses and dolmus minibuses. There is a Funikuler system that runs from the squad down to Kabatas which is a five-minute walk to the stadium.
The stadium is accessible by ferry from the Kabatas port if crossing from the Asian port of Kadikoy and there are alternate boat services from Uskudar and Sirkeci. Kabataş is also served by (modern) tram line 1, which passes through Istanbul’s historic Golden Horn.
Istanbul has an excellent transportation system utilizing almost all the known forms of public transit including buses, metro, light metro, tram, trains and several sea bus lines and ferry services. We would recommend purchasing an Istanbulkart if you plan to travel around the city and if you are not staying within walking distance of the stadium.
Istanbulkart is similar to an Oyster Card in London or a Navigo in Paris. The RFID “electronic wallet” card can be purchased at the airport, metro stations and ports. One major difference to the Oyster card is that you can use one Istanbulkart to pay for several passengers which helps when travelling in large groups, especially when covering for that friend who had one too many and forgot to top up – we all have one.
For more information on the public transport system in Istanbul see www.iett.gov.tr/en/
There are 27 seaports and 29 terminals on the shores of Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara which are served by a fleet of ferryboats and catamaran type sea buses of the company IDO. For more information go to www.ido.com.tr/en/
City bus, Metro, tram, funicular, Tünel, ferry: TL4.00
(with Istanbulkart: TL2.30); transfer to another vehicle: TL1.65.
The away fans stands are located between blocks 404-406 and are easily reached with disability access also provided.
Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the great cities of the world. One continent is simply not big enough for the former Roman and Ottoman capital. The city straddles Europe and Asia, has it’s very own habitable island paradises, iconic buildings, millennia old churches, mosques and synagogues, lavish palaces, parks and beaches. Istanbul is a 24/7 city where you can shop till you drop at modern and ancient malls, eat like a sultan and a whole lot more.
The city is too big to summarise in a single article so we are going to focus on the Besiktas area instead. Besiktas is actually a municipality (belediye) of Istanbul, Turkey, located on the European shore of the Bosphorus. The district includes the popular nightlife sports dotted along the shoreline and the Ortakoy area, the financial district of Levent-Maslak and popular tourist attractions such as the Dolmabahce palace, the Ortakoy mosque and Yildiz park.
The heartland of Besiktas is the downtown area which is nearby the port. The Çarşı is where it all goes down. A lot of the streets are too narrow for traffic but are full of life with delicious fish restaurants, bars, clubs and street performers. This is hardcore Besiktas territory and if you want a real feel of how intertwined the club and local area are head downtown.
Ortakoy is just a short bus, cab ride away or you could just take a 10-15 minute stroll if you fancy stretching your legs. The area is one of the most well known in Istanbul and is set in the shadows of the Bosphorus bridge and the beautiful Ortakoy mosque which was recently renovated and there is also the Aya Fokas (St Phocas) Greek Orthodox church and the Etz-Ahayim synagogue nearby, reflecting the cosmopolitan nature this side of town. If you fancy a baked potato try one of the many ‘kumpir’ stands for a Turkish twist on the humble vegetable. A favourite of ours is the House cafe which is on the waterfront. This is about as close to you’ll get to having a meal or a drink on the sea without actually getting your feet wet. They do pretty good food, lovely cakes and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with a DJ playing chill-out house music in the background.
Ortakoy is more upscale than the nightlife spots around Beyoglu and Istiklal Caddesi and the place to be if you fancy dressing to impress and splashing the cash. Reina, Anjelique, Sortie, and Supperclub are all located here alongside the seafront and also serve food if you want a restaurant with a picturesque setting. This is where you will see footballers and the cities movers and shakers.
The Dolmabahce palace is in a convenient location for football fans as it is literally across the road from the Vodafone Arena. The building is a the late Ottoman era masterpiece as is the Dolmabahce mosque next door. The palace is difficult spans 600m along the seafront and uses elements of Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical and modern Ottoman architecture. If you do look take a tour you probably will not miss the 4.5 tonne chandelier but what you may not know is that the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier was actually a present from Queen Victoria.
The palace is also where the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk died. The clock in the room he died in remains set to the time he passed away, 9:05am on November 10, 1938.
There is also a watch tower between the palace and the mosque which was built by Johann Mayer, one of the early clock masters for Paul Garnier.
And if you decide that you deserve to be treated like a king you can stay in a palace. The Ciragan hotel is a converted palace just a short distance down the sea front from the Dolmabahce.
If you look out to see you will see one of the most iconic buildings of Istanbul on a tiny island called the Maiden’s Tower or Kiz Kulesi in Turkish – subject to countries myths and legends. There are boat rides from nearby the palace to the island where you can go on a tour, have a meal or sit down for a drink away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Should you want to carry on your sea journey there are boat and yacht tour services all along the shoreline, especially towards the Kabatas sea ferry port which organise trips along the Bosphorus.
The areas to the north of Ortakoy includes the well-to-do area of Bebek – which also happens to be one of the most beautiful spots on the Bosphorus – think Made in Chelsea, by the sea. There are lovely seafront yalis (Ottoman wooden mansions) dotted along the coast. Istanbul’s first brew pub, Taps Bebek opened here and there are numerous cafe’s and bar’s to check out – Lucca get very busy.
Arnavutköy is nearby along the coast and is the place to go if you love fish. Local fishermen bring in their catch of the day and some of the most popular maritime restaurants such as Sur Balık, Adem Baba, Hayri Balık and Arnavutköy Balıkçısı are located here. Drinking the local alcoholic drink raki with fish and meze’s (starters) is a bit of a tradition for the Turks so if you want to sample the local culture and have a drink and enjoy seafood you may end up liking what the area has to offer. There are also fish and raki spots in Ortakoy and Besiktas if you do not want to travel up the coast.
And if you want to know where all these places are we stuck them all on a map here.
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