Şile is a small holiday resort town on the Black Sea about 70 kilometers from the city of Istanbul, Turkey. Şile is the also the name of the district (Turkish: ilçe) and the municipality (Turkish: belediye) that contain the city center of Şile. The district of Şile is part of the province (Turkish: il) of Istanbul. Bordering Şile is the province of Kocaeli to the east and south, and the province of Istanbul districts of Pendik to the south, Çekmeköy is to the southwest, and Beykoz is to the west. The boundaries of Şile were expanded by the addition of the village of Esenceli from Beykoz district in 1987. Şile consists of Şile, Ağva, Yeşilvadi and Teke subdistricts plus 58 other villages. The word şile means marjoram in Turkish and its etymology is said to be rooted in Greek. The tomb of the Muslim Saint, Kum Baba, can be seen on a tree-covered hill above Şile. Along the coast near Şile in the village of Kızılcaköy is a cave said to be the scene of events cited in the Anabasis of Xenophon. Şile is also known for Şile bezi, a light crimped-looking see-through cotton fabric, made on the Şile coast and sold in many shops in Şile as well as the bazaars of Istanbul. There is a fair to promote this Şile fabric in the town every summer. Şile also is home to the largest campus of Işık University and Şile is a part of the Istanbul public transport system (İETT). Buses from Harem via Üsküdar, located at the Anatolian side of Istanbul, depart to Şile on İETT Lines 139 and 139A.
There has been a fishing village here since 700 BC and its lighthouse has been here since the Ottoman period. Today, Şile is a beach resort, popular with people who want the resort type atmosphere without having to go to the expense of travelling to the Mediterranean Sea. Şile is situated about a one hour drive from Istanbul and has always been a retreat from the city. During Turkey's economic boom of the 1990s, a great many summer homes and holiday villages were built for the middle class residents of Istanbul - especially after the 1999 earthquake caused so much damage to the Marmara coast. There is a small but sandy beach, a small quaint harbour of fishing boats with dense forest behind it. Şile has a quiet pleasant atmosphere during the week, but on weekends and especially on hot summer Sundays, Şile is crowded with day-trippers from the poorer districts of the city who come packed in minibuses and vans to enjoy a break from the city. There are numerous bars and restaurants with sea views, especially in the little park around the lighthouse. Şile is famous for its beaches, but it is situated at the northern-most point of Istanbul and thus shares the same sea conditions as other Black Sea towns where strong sea undercurrents can be dangerous to inexperienced swimmers. There is not enough warning of the danger warning and people have been known to drown all too often. The north-facing Black Sea has a much shorter holiday season duration than the Aegean, the Mediterranean or even the Marmara because of the cold winters.
With Şile being situated just 70 kilometers from Istanbul, its sandy beaches and the ruins of a Genoese castle draw visitors year round. Most of the beaches provide changing rooms, toilet facilities, and restaurants. There is a diverse range of hotels and pensions available which are best booked in advance during the summer. It is a quite special holiday center near Istanbul that offers excellent fish restaurants, hotels and pensions. The population in Şile rapidly increases during the summer because of the many residents of Istanbul who have summer homes there. There is also a most pleasant picnic area provided by the Belediye at the entrance to the district. Before the entrance to Şile about 2 kilometers down the road is Kumbaba (Sand Father) which is a camping area with a great beach with fine sand where you can find changing cabanas, showers, toilet facilities and a small place selling drinks and sandwiches. Şile is the place for the harried residents of Istanbul to get away from the chaos of the city - even if it is just for a weekend. Having the freshest air and situated in one of the cleanest areas of Istanbul, Şile has big long sandy beaches along the coastline of the Black Sea. Take a step back in history to the seventh century BC at Hitite, Roman and Byzantines such as the Castle of Heciz and the Castle of Şile. The name of Şile comes from a fragrant small blossomed wild herb known as marjoram.
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