The name Fenerbahçe is a reference to an iconic lighthouse located in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul – Fener means lighthouse, bahçe means garden. Fenerbahçe were founded in 1907 by a group of locals from the Kadıköy district of Istanbul. The club was founded in secrecy to keep a low profile due to the strict Ottoman policy against Turks forming football teams. The early years of the club were spent supporting the Turkish War of Independence and resistance against the allied occupation of Istanbul. In fact till this very day Fenerbahçe take pride in defeating the British military football teams with the most notable victory being the General Harrington Cup triumph – the cup is still on show in the Fenerbahçe museum.
The club have a long history of success, holding the Guiness World Record as the 1st team ever finishing a season without allowing a goal in 1922/23. Their domestic record reads as follows: 27 titles, including 18 Super Lig triumphs; 6 Turkish Cups; and 8 Turkish Super Cups. They are regular participants in the Champions League and Europa League – their best performance in the former was a Quarter Final in 2008 (losing to Chelsea), while they reached the 2014 Europa League semi-finals. Fener are nicknamed the Yellow Canaries and are more than just a football club. The Istanbul giants are operate in multiple sporting disciplines including basketball, volleyball, sailing and athletics.
The Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium is undoubtedly one of the most iconic sporting arenas in Turkey and among the great world’s great footballing venues. There has been a trend for teams to relocate stadiums to the suburbs away from their traditional base over recent years but Fenerbahçe remain firmly rooted to where it all began.
The stadium was inaugurated in 1908 when it was known as the Papazın Çayırı (The field of the priest) and was the first such football ground of its kind in Turkey. The stadium was initially used by every team in the Istanbul league including Galatasaray and Beşiktaş.
The venue is based on the Asian banks of Istanbul in the area of Fenerbahçe, Kadiköy and named after the sixth Prime Minister of Turkey who was instrumental in the development of the club over its formative years and personally oversaw the purchase of the stadium from the government on 27th May 1933.
The stadium underwent a major renovation in 1998 when it was renamed the Şükrü Saracoğlu in honour of his services to the club and the capacity was increased to today’s 50,500 in 2006.
The UEFA Cup Final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen was played at the stadium on 20th May 2009.
There is no mistaking the fact that the Kadiköy is a Fenerbahçe stronghold. It is not best advised to wear a Galatasaray shirt in the area on match day! The district is painted in navy-blue and yellow on match day with the local firms and fan groups turning out en-masse. Even if you can’t find a ticket to the game if you are around the area it is worth sticking around as there is always a great vibe. Inside the stadium the party starts kicking off an hour before the game starts.
Fenerbahce have one of the best home records in the league and it is little surprise considering just how intimidating the atmosphere is. The stands start filling up at least an hour before kick off and by the time the teams enter the pitch for their pre-match warm-up the stadium is usually full. Expect raucous fans, passion, flares and A LOT of noise. You may notice there are a few people in the ultra stands with their back to the pitch. Firm leaders are called ‘reis’ – slang for boss – and have a duty much like a musical composer during games organising chants and choreography displays. The ‘reis’ generally holds a lot of respect among large sways of supporters and the top boys are often as well known as players.
Expect a wall of noise throughout the game and a lot of pressure to be put on the referee. They aren’t called the 12th man for no reason!
The away fans are situated in the GH (Upper) and OP (lower) sections with additional sections F and N occasional opened up to travelling supporters depending on demand and allocation limits.
If you fancy learning more about the club the stadium has a museum and there are stadium tours held through the day if you really want to get a feel for the place.
How to get there?
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.
If you are travelling over from the European side you can cross continents via ferry from Beşiktaş or Eminönü to Kadikoy, taxi or minibus across the bridge directly to the stadium or via the recently opened Marmaray underwater metro which connects both sides of the city – once you cross over to Asia another metro line will take you to Kadikoy.
From Kadikoy the stadium is around a 20-30 minute walk. We do advise you to walk from Kadikoy as the roads are chockablock on match days. From the Kadikoy port, head down the Söğütlü Çeşme road, pass the iconic bull statue at the roundabout that connects six roads -Altıyol. Here you are bound to see local fans gathering and continue walking down Kuşdili road until you get to the Yoğurtçular park. You will be able to see the stadium across to overpass which crosses a stream leading to the marina.
Renowned French animalier sculptor made the bull statue 150 years ago but was presented to the city of Istanbul as a gift from the Germany in 1917 and eventually ended up in Kadıköy back in 1970.
The away section entrance is next to a dual carriage way making accessing the stands chaotic at times. If you do travel via taxi to the away stands you could end up being dropped off on the busy road. It is best advised to travel to the stadium via the main entrance.
Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world. As you would expect from a city that has been capital to two superpowers in the past – the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ottomans – there is a lot to see. The sprawling city is home to over 15 million and there is no way you will get through it all over a day or two. There is no city centre like in London or Paris but the old city is where it all began thousands of years ago. Istanbul has a series of centres which are spread across the seaside areas along the European and Asian halves of the city as well as the Bosphorus.
You have probably heard of the Aya Sophia, Topkapi Palaces, and Blue Mosque. We aren’t going to get into listing all the major landmarks – we would have to write a books worth to really do the city justice. However, it is worth checking out the Sultanahmet, Eminönü and Beyoğlu districts which are steeped in historical treasures on just about every street corner.
Shop until you drop at Grand Bazaar or if you want a more modern experience the city has seen fancy malls spring up such as Kanyon, İstiniye Park and the Zorlu centre. Istiklal Caddesi
There are lavish Turkish bath such as the Caglayan or Çemberlitaş if you want to relax – it really is an experience! If the hustle and bustle of the city gets too much you could always jump on the ferry and head over to the Princes Islands which feel like a world away. Motor cars are banned on the islands and they offer a tranquil rest bite and you can take a dip in the Marmara sea.
If you are travelling over the summer months Istanbul can be very hot and humid but there are several park such as Gezi, Yıldız and Emirgan which offer more serene settings and the city is surrounded by forests if you really want to go on an adventure.
The Kadiköy district is a bustling, hip area on the Asian side. The market area near the port is an assault on the senses. You can sample local food or even pick a fish for an on the spot barbecue alongside the local Raki – be careful, they call this alcoholic drink Lions milk for good reason, it is VERY strong!
If you are into street art this is the place to be. There are several murals on buildings done by famous artists such Rustam Qubic, Esk Reyn and Pixel Pacho as well as an annual festival celebrating the art.
The nearby Moda area is a trendy part of town while Üsküdar is home to most of the historical sites on the eastern side of the city. Bağdat Caddesi is great places to grab a beer and go people watching in one of the more affluent high streets in the city. The seaside strip of Caddebostan even has a sandy beach if you fancy a dip. Fenerbahçe itself has a marina and a few parks which are home to statues of club legends.
And if you want to know where all these places are we stuck them all on a map here.
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