Beşiktaş district council administers a number of key locations running up the Bosphorus on the European side (from Dolmabahçe Palace up to Bebek) and the land on the hills behind these settlements. Thus, the district includes some of İstanbul's best-known spots, such as Arnavutköy, Bebek, Etiler, Levent (all parts), Ortaköy, Ulus, and Yıldız. Beşiktaş has a population of 190,813 (2000 census).
The name literally means "cradle-stone" in Turkish; "beşik" being "cradle" and "taş" being "stone". There are Byzantine records of a church here that carried a name which meant the same thing in Greek; "Kounopetra" (cradle-stone); and it would have been built in honor of a relic, a stone reportedly taken from the stable in Nazareth where Jesus was born. The stone was later removed to Hagia Sophia and disappeared during the Fourth Crusade, possibly to be transmogrified into wood and to be sold in Europe's brisk trade of relics. Nevertheless, the memory of the manger where Jesus was born lives on in the Turkish name of Beşiktaş.
The Bosphorus has been settled for a long, long time and there are many places of historical interest. This stretch of the Bosphorus shore is slightly sheltered from the strong north-easterly winds that bring storms to Istanbul and thus ships have always been moored here. Indeed in Greek and Byzantine times the area was called Diplokionion, meaning 'double pillar'. Furthermore one theory of the origin of the current name Beşiktaş is that it has mutated from Beştaş (meaning "five stones"), referring to the pillars to which ships were moored in the time of Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha.
In ancient times the villages on the Bosphorus shore were isolated communities in the forest that lined the water-side. The Bosphorus however was prominent in the history and mythology of the ancient Greeks, and villages like Beşiktaş would have had their place in traditional tales such as Jason and the Argonauts. In the Byzantine era churches and a monastery were built and the tradition of having a summer palace on the Bosphorus was begun by the Byzantines with their Ayios Mamas palace complex. The Bosphorus settlements however, being outside the city walls, were vulnerable to raiders from the Black Sea coasts and little of this architecture or the statuary that would have decorated it so gloriously has survived.
In the Ottoman period, once the emperors had established control of the Black Sea coasts the Ottoman navy was docked in the Bosphorus and the Bosphorus villages became safe and attractive again. One man in particular, the legendary sailor Barbarossa, built his palace and mosque in Beşiktaş, making it his home. By now Beşiktaş was an established Bosphorus crossing for caravans trading across Anatolia and along the Silk Road, and of course for the great Ottoman armies.
This coast was of course very attractive to the Ottoman rulers, who built hunting lodges and then great palaces in the area, and the Beşiktaş district contains some of the most important and attractive Ottoman buildings. The area was thus the scene of great intrigues of the late Ottoman period such as the dethronement of Sultan Abdulaziz at Dolmabahçe Palace in a coup in 1876 and the announcement of the founding of the Ottoman parliament in 1908, and the deposal of Sultan Abdul Hamid II at Yıldız Palace in 1909.
Following the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1924, the Ottoman ruling family was deported and the palaces and mansions along the coast were emptied out. Some were given to new government ministries, some used as schools and other public buildings, other were pulled down.
The football team wears black-and-white shirts and are nicknamed the "Black Eagles". The club is widely supported by the working class and also has earned fame with their notoriously faithful fans.
Beşiktaş JK also has basketball, volleyball, and other team-sports branches.
BJK Akatlar Arena is the home of the basketball team.
Fantastic club dream team 2008 sezon
Çarşı (means Downtown in Turkish) is the biggest fan group of Beşiktaş JK. It took its name from the Beşiktaş central business district (downtown). The core of the group is from the Downtown, working class and university students. The district of Beşiktaş has the highest amount of universities per km² in Turkey. Before every match, the Carşı Group meets at the Kazan Pub, and walks all the way from Beşiktaş, through the historic Dolmabahçe Avenue, to the Inönü Stadium. The group is mostly made up of left-wing supporters. When the former prime minister of Turkey, Bülent Ecevit (Democratic Left), died, the group blackened its website for a day as a tribute of respect for the former prime minister.
Çarşı is also known for its sensitivity to reflect public opinions and preoccupations. They have performed several activities or protest such as protesting the famous Susurluk affair (where mafia-government relations were laid to public eyes by a traffic incident in Susurluk) by turning the stadium lights off, supporting Greenpeace by helping out for a non-nuclear protest flag hang off the stadium, protesting global warming, supporting democratic leaders and icons.