A yali (Turkish: yali, from Greek yiáli γιαλή (mod. γιαλός), literally "seashore, beach") is a house or mansion constructed at immediate waterside (almost exclusively seaside) in Istanbul and usually built with an architectural concept that takes into account the characteristics of the coastal location. Thus, a family who owned a waterside residence would spend some time in this usually secondary residence located at the sea shore, as opposed to the "konak" (mansion, aside from the term's use to refer to buildings with administrative functions) or the "kösk" (pavillion, often serving a determined practical purpose, such as hunting, or implying a temporary nature).
Thus, going to the "yali" acquired the sense of both going to the seaside and to the house situated there. In its contemporary sense, the term "yali" is used primarily to denote the total amount of 620 waterside residences, mostly dating from the 19th century (some of them date from the 18th century, and some from the early 20th century), sprinkled along the Bosphorus in Istanbul. As such, they constitute one of the city's landmarks.
Finely worked wood was, by excellence, the construction material chosen for yalis, as it was the case for the large majority of traditional Turkish houses. Successive restorations often caused the wooden parts of the overall structure to be gradually reduced, but wood nevertheless remains the prominent and identifying material of historic yalis. It is not uncommon for the most recently restored mansions to employ wood principally for external decoration purposes.
The oldest yali which has survived to our date is the one built by the grand vizier Amcazade Köprülü Hüseyin Pasha (of the highly influent Köprülü family) in 1699 at the Kanlica district, on the Asiatic shores of the Bosphorus. From this yali, the hall of audience (divanhane) and its immediate annexes have survived. On the opposite European shores, the oldest to remain is the "Serifler Yalisi" in Emirgan which was built in 1780 but bears the name of a later owner. The most expensive yali is "Erbilgin Yalisi" located in Yeniköy, Istanbul. Forbes magazine listed "Erbilgin Yalisi" as the fifth most expensive house in the world with a price tag of $100 million.
Yali, is a Turkish word meaning a waterside mansion. It also means shore or strand in Greek. During the Ottoman period these mansions on the waterside were named "Sahilhane". Istanbul is the only city in the world through which the sea passes and it has a history of some 2700 years. Initially, and for many subsequent centuries, Istanbul was located on an historical peninsula between Sarayburnu and Edirnekapi. Building in the Bosphorus area which is 30 km. long began during the Byzantine period, with the building of the first monasteries. Later, small fishing villages started to appear on its shores. During the Tulip Period (1718-1730), waterside mansions followed one another, these creating a necklace of pearls. The name Bosphorus is derived from the mythical name of Io, the favorite of Zeus. Zeus had to turn her into a cow in order to protect Io from his jealous wife Hera, and it actually means “the river of the cow ”.