Founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on August 19, 1929, as Turkey's first arboretum (living tree museum), Atatürk Arboretum is among the important touristic attractions of local and foreign tourists.
Atatürk Arboretum is a huge living tree museum spread over 296 hectares in the southeast of the Belgrad Forest. It houses an incredible number of tree varieties. Atatürk Arboretum was built as a botanical garden, so it is almost impossible to see such a variety of trees together under normal conditions.
In 1949, the proposal to build such an arboretum was put forward by Hayrettin Kayacık, a professor of the Faculty of Forestry of Istanbul University. Although the arboretum was planned to be approximately 38 hectares, the result was larger than that as it covers approximately 296 hectares.
Camille Guinet, the botanical garden supervisor of the Sorbonne University between 1959 and 1961, worked on the paths and plans inside the arboretum. However, due to financial problems, the construction of this tree park took much longer than expected. The Arboretum was opened on July 12, 1982, on the 100th anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's birth.
Although financially dependent on the Ministry of Forestry, the Istanbul University Faculty of Forestry is also in cooperation with the Ministry of Forestry Administration. One of the main purposes of the Arboretum is to provide an environment for the research and examination of students and faculty members of the Faculty of Forestry of Istanbul University, as well as forest engineers, scientists, and the Ministry of Forestry.
In addition, there are three artificial lakes in Atatürk Arboretum.
Ataturk Arboretum also includes Kirazlıbent Nature Park that was built during the Ottoman Empire. The arboretum is in cooperation with other botanical gardens in the world to supply seeds and saplings.