Besiktas is one of the oldest districts and neighborhoods of Istanbul, located on the European side of the city. It's also considered as one of the city centers, both residential and commercial especially for small businesses. At the same time, besides having a major public bus and dolmus terminal, Besiktas is also one of the sea hubs on the Bosphorus from which boats depart for various neighborhoods on the shores of the Asian side.
According to the old sources, the Ottomans called the area as "Bestas" (five stones) probably derived from 5 columns piled into the coast to moore the ships. But Besiktas literaly means "cradle stone" in Turkish and there are other stories about the origins of this name dating back to the Byzantine period. We know that Besiktas became an important residential area after the Conquest of Constantinople when the Ottomans put an end to the pirates coming from the Black Sea and plundering villages outside of the Byzantine city walls.
According to the census of 2000, the population of Besiktas is about 191.000 and it contains some of the best-known neighborhoods of Istanbul: Bebek, Etiler, Levent, Arnavutkoy, Ortakoy, Ulus, Nisantasi, etc. Several museums and palaces are also located within the boundries of this large district (11.000 square kilometers or 4.247 square miles); Dolmabahce Palace, Yildiz Palace, Ciragan Palace, Feriye Palaces, Ihlamur Pavilion, Naval museum, Barbarossa's mausoleum, and so on. Besiktas has many universities and their faculties within the district as well. Some of the 5-star hotels can be found in Besiktas too; Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Four Seasons the Bosphorus (opening by the end of 2007), Conrad International, The Plaza, and Dedeman are some of them. You can also pay a visit to the local market in the district center which covers a large area.
In the Barbaros Square next to the mausoleum of Barbarossa and the Naval museum, young skateboarders gather to practice their tricks, or sometimes small concerts have being organized. Besiktas has also one of the oldest football (soccer) clubs of Istanbul who plays in the Turkish Premiere League; Besiktas or known as BJK, and nicknamed as "Black Eagles".