A piece of Poland in Istanbul .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL -In the most difficult times for Poles, they were given a chance to cultivate their traditions in a peaceful settlement near Istanbul, which is Polonezköy or Adampol. After the first generation of Polish settlers, the story of Polonezköy continued in the 20th century

Though Poland is not one of Turkey’s nearest neighbors and was historically never part of the Ottoman Empire, many stories and legends point to special, long-standing connections between the two countries. A Polish village on the outskirts of Istanbul seems to be the best evidence of that link.

In Polonezköy, or Adampol, as the locals call it, everyone knows the story of the Ottoman sultan who wished for an ambassador from an officially nonexistent country.

During the time when Poland’s current territory was divided among three countries, and thus did not exist on the map, this sultan declared that he continued to recognize the country and publicly expressed his support for the Polish cause and his hopes that an ambassador would arrive from "Lehistan," the Ottoman name for Poland.

No one really knows how much truth lies in the story, which is told to Polish children in school. But history shows that in the most difficult times for Poles, they were given a chance to cultivate their traditions in a peaceful settlement near Istanbul.

The first settlers

Antoni Dochoda, an authority on the history of Polonezköy, knows the stories of all the local families. "My grandfather was a prisoner captured by Circassians during the Crimean war in 1854 to 1856," he said. "At the time of the partitioning of Poland, the largest part of the country was annexed by Russia, as was the Polish army. The soldiers who didn’t want to fight for the invaders deserted to the Ottoman side."

Other families have their stories too. The grandfather of the Ziolkowski family was an officer on a German war vessel that was given to Turkey to get the country to participate in the war. Wincenty Ryzy, a patriot and political activist, arrived in Adampol after being exiled in Siberia. His youngest daughter, Zofia, has turned the family home into the village culture center, which is known as "Aunt Zosia's house."

Unfortunately, not all the families were able to stay in Polonezköy. "Due to difficult conditions, many families migrated abroad, mostly to Australia and Canada," said Dochoda, adding, "I also considered migrating, but in the end, we only moved to the center of Istanbul. I decided to come back 10 years ago, when the transportation system had improved." These days, Dochoda and his family run the prestigious Leonardo restaurant complex, which has been visited by many prominent guests, including Aleksander Kwasniewski, the former president of Poland, as well as numerous Turkish celebrities.

No public bus goes directly to Polonezköy. The residents have rejected the municipality’s offer to establish a line, as they fear that visiting crowds might not appreciate the history and culture they have managed to preserve. Still, especially in the spring and fall, hundreds of vehicles head to this peaceful oasis on the outskirts of Istanbul. People go to escape the noise of the city and enjoy the best of what the green countryside has to offer, but only a few of them can actually connect the village to its Polish roots.

"We do not complain about the lack of popularity," said Daniel Ohotski, the mayor of Polonezköy, "It is very easy to get here once you have a car. Many renowned Turkish personalities come to visit us, as well as to settle here." But he doesn’t want to give any names, saying, "It is their private life and we respect it."

From an agricultural to a tourist economy

The village started changing from an agricultural to a tourist economy as early as the late 1920s, but the real boom came in the 1970s, when the residents of Polonezköy began renting out rooms in their houses and offering guests a wide range of homemade delicacies. The quality of these goods made them into a brand name that gained customers in Istanbul who started visiting more frequently, often bringing other people along too. Newly built guesthouses created more employment opportunities and the village continued to develop.

"Polonezköy has very good relations with the Beykoz Municipality, which supports and contributes to the changes we initiate," said Ohotski, noting that the village had opened "the first, and so far only, BMX park in Turkey."


Although Polonezköy lacks a public-transport connection with Istanbul, it is easily accessible by car. Once you reach Istanbul’s Asian side by crossing the Bosphorus Bridge, take the Şile highway until you see a left turn to Beykoz. If you choose to cross via the FSM Bridge, take the Beykoz/Kavacık exit and follow the signs, which will lead you directly to the center of the village. Either way, the drive shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes from Taksim Square.


Frequent visitors to Polonezköy know that the trip isn’t complete without a proper breakfast at one of the village’s large selection of restaurants, most of which offer guests the option to eat outdoors or indoors. One, Karçma Kriha, is named for the Polish word "karçma" (originally spelled "karczma"), meaning a rustic country inn, and the spot itself resembles many of the charming taverns one can visit in Poland’s southern Beskidy region. The restaurant has a peaceful atmosphere and numerous deck chairs for outside dining, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee after a marvelous meal. Beykoz Yolu No: 19, Polonezköy/ Istanbul
Tel: 0216 432 32 81 or 0216 432 30 99

One of the most renowned restaurants in Polonezköy, Leonardo, is not only a fabulous dining establishment serving the most sophisticated delicacies one can imagine, but a perfect spot for various types of events. The private part of Leonardo’s garden is a dream location for a wedding reception, illuminated by dozens of candles and lanterns in the evening, and adorned with white decorations for special occasions. Wedding groups can choose from a variety of excellent dishes on the restaurant’s menu, including international specialties.