World’s 1st ‘waterfront library’ opens in Istanbul’s Beykoz

In a bid to foster a culture of reading and learning while embracing the serene beauty of the Bosporus, the Municipality of Beykoz has inaugurated the “Yalı (Mansion) Library” at a seafront location. The library, operational round the clock, seven days a week, boasts a rich collection and modern amenities.

Perched with a panoramic view of the Bosporus, the Yalı Library accommodates up to 120 individuals simultaneously, offering a tranquil yet dynamic space for studying and exploration. With shelves adorned with 11,000 books, including publications sourced from Beykoz Library and Istanbul Library Corner, the space aims to cater to diverse literary tastes.

Cihan Yıldız, the general coordinator responsible for education at the Municipality of Beykoz, expressed his enthusiasm about the project in an interview with Anadolu Agency (AA). Yıldız revealed that the library commenced operations on March 12 and has since witnessed significant footfall, welcoming approximately 9,000 visitors.

He attributed this success to the library’s unique offerings and emphasized its accessibility to all Istanbul residents, regardless of social status.

“We operate with an online reservation system and provide 24-hour service. We offer services such as soup, bagels, tea and lemonade in our free cafeteria area for our users.”

Emphasizing that all Istanbul residents who become members can benefit from the libraries, Yıldız noted:

“Our Mayor Murat Aydın has initiated many firsts. Yalı Library is unique in this field. Since the Istanbul Bosporus is unique in the world, I believe that a library with such a sea view and in a mansion format is unique both in the world and in Türkiye. It was our mayor’s idea. Mansions are, unfortunately, structures in our social life that are more accessible to the upper class, even buildings where ordinary citizens cannot see the sea view due to their walls. We broke this barrier. We opened a mansion for everyone’s use regardless of their social status. In this respect, it became a very valuable project.”

Yıldız stated that after the transformation of the mansion, previously used as a sports club management building, into a library, they received positive feedback from young people:

“Let me share a short anecdote from a conversation between our mayor and a young person. A high school student came with his friends. He said, ‘Mayor, I had never studied before, but I decided to start studying from today.’ We receive positive feedback. For example, we have a medical faculty student here. Despite having a library closer to his home, he says, ‘Sir, when I feel overwhelmed, I look at the sea, I feel refreshed, motivated. I reset and start studying again.’ I believe that even gazing at the sea refreshes the human soul, creating a positive impact.”

Book lovers of all ages who want to study and read can benefit from the library by making an appointment at any time of the day. Visitors can also borrow their selected works for 15 days through online appointments.

Beykoz’s position

During the Ottoman era, the area beyond Beykoz consisted of vast countryside and forests primarily utilized for hunting and as a retreat from urban life by the Sultans and their entourage. The hunting lodge at Küçüksu, along with the ornate fountains and mosques embellishing the villages along the coastline, originated from this period. The name “Beykoz” emerged during this epoch, believed to stem from “bey,” signifying prince, lord or gentleman and “koz,” possibly derived from the Persian word for village or referencing a type of walnut.

The coastal road along the Bosporus extends to Beykoz from Beylerbeyi (below the Bosporus Bridge), with additional routes leading down to the coast from the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. Access to the district is also facilitated by ferry services from Eminönü and Beşiktaş. Smaller boats operate from Yeniköy to Beykoz, Bebek, or Emirgan, connecting to the neighborhoods of Kanlıca and Anadolu Hisarı.

Among the notable landmarks from the Bosporus to Beykoz are Küçüksu Palace, an exquisite example of an Ottoman imperial hunting lodge; Anadolu Hisarı Castle, an ancient fortification erected by the Ottomans to secure the Bosporus during military campaigns; and the more recent Khedive Palace, constructed in 1907 as a vacation residence for the Khedive of Egypt, now repurposed as a restaurant within a scenic park. Kanlıca and Anadolu Hisarı are quaint villages boasting waterfront cafes that attract tourists.

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