THE ENVIRONS OF ISTANBUL
The Princes' Islands, an archipelago of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara, were places of exile for Byzantine princes. Today, during the summer months, Istanbul's wealthy escape to their cool sea breezes, clear water and elegant 19 th century houses. Buyukada is the largest of the islands. Here you can enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn phaeton (carriage) among the pine trees, after having relaxed on a beach in one of the numerous coves that ring the island. The other popular islands are Kinali, Sedef, Burgaz and Heybeli. Regular ferry boats connect the islands with both the European and Asian shores. A faster sea bus service operates from Kabatas in the summer.
On the European side of the Black Sea coast, 25 km from the outskirts of Istanbul, Kilyos' long, broad sandy beaches draw crowds of Istanbul residents in the summer months.
The Belgrade Forest, inland from the Black Sea on the European side, is the largest forest around Istanbul On weekends Istanbulites drive out to its shade for family picnics and barbeques. Seven ancient reservoirs and a number of natural springs refresh the air. The Ottoman aqueducts, of which the Moglova Aqueduct built by Sinan is the most splendid, lend a majesty to the natural surroundings.
On the Asian side, Polonezkoy, 25 kms from Istanbul, was founded in the 19 th century by Polish immigrants. Istanbul residents get away to its pastoral landscape for walks, horseback riding and to enjoy the traditional Polish food served by the descendants of the original settlers.
On the Black Sea, 70 km from Uskudar, Sile's sandy beaches, fish restaurants and hotels make it one of the most delightful holiday places near Istanbul. Sile bezi, cool cotton clothing, popular with tourists, is fashioned here.
The charming fishing town of Eskihisar, southeast of Istanbul, boasts a marina where yachtsmen can moor their boats after a day out in the Sea of Marmara. In town, the house of Osman Hamdi Bey, Turkey's great 19 th century painter, has been converted into a museum. Neighboring sites include the tomb of Hannibal between Eskihisar and Gebze, and a Byzantine castle.
On the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara, the popular resort of Yalova has been visited since Roman times for its thermal waters which aid in the cure of rheumatism. The baths of the main resort a few kilometers out of town are set in pleasant gardens adding to the relaxing atmosphere. In the town of Yalova itself, many inexpensive hotels and guest houses provide comfortable accommodation. Seventeen kilometers west of Yalova, the relaxing resort area of Cinarcik has lovely beaches and modern holiday complexes.
Many Istanbulites have summer homes near Silivri, the popular vacation area about 65 km from Istanbul. A large holiday resort, it offers everything from casinos to sporting, health and fitness facilities to excellent dining. The conference center attracts business people who escape the city's hectic pace for a working holiday. A regular sea bus service connects Istanbul to Silivri.