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Istanbul Bosphorus Guide

Istanbul guide. Places to see in Istanbul. Bosphorus guide.

The Bosphorus, one of the two straits in Turkey connecting the Black Sea and Marmara Sea, as well as Asia and Europe is one of the top attractions and best things to do in Istanbul for tourists.

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The word Bosphorus comes from the Greek word “Bosporos” meaning “ox passage”. In Turkish the Bosphorus is called Boğaz or Boğaziçi meaning “throat” and “strait”. The Asian side of the Bosphorus is called Anadolu/Asya yakası and the European side is Avrupa yakası.

Over the Bosphorus, there are two suspension bridges used for international navigation: Boğaziçi Köprüsü (built in 1973) in the South and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Köprüsü (built in 1986) in the North.

Towns Along The Bosphorus

  • Asian Side (South to North) Kadıköy, Üsküdar, Kuzguncuk, Beylerbeyi, Çengelköy, Vaniköy, Kandilli, Anadoluhisarı, Kanlıca, Paşabahçe, Beykoz, Anadolukavağı, Poyraz, Anadolu Feneri
  • European Side (South to North) Eminönü, Karaköy, Tophane, Kabataş, Beşiktaş, Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme, Arnavutköy, Bebek, Aşiyan, Rumelihisarı, Baltalimanı, Emirgan, İstinye, Yeniköy, Tarabya, Kireçburnu, Bahçeköy, Sarıyer, Rumelikavağı, Rumeli Feneri

Bosphorus Facts and Figures

The Bosphorus is approximately 32 km long. The coast line of the European side is 55 km, Asian side is 35 km. The widest part is 3600 m between Anadolu Feneri and Rumeli Feneri. The minimum width is 700 m between Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. The deepest part is 120 km between Bebek and Kandilli. In the Bosphorus there are two currents; one on the surface from the Black Sea towards the Marmara Sea and the other one below the surface in the opposite direction.

Bosphorus Myth

Io is seduced by Zeus and he changed her into a milk-white heifer to protect her from the jealousy of Hera. When Hera asked Zeus for the heifer, Zeus complied and Hera employed the hundred-eyed Argus to guard Io. After Argus was slain by Hermes at the behest of Zeus, Hera tormented Io with a gadfly, driving her from land to land crossing the strait between Asia and Europe and giving its name, Bosphorus.

Bosphorus Bridge

The Bosphorus Bridge, first of the two bridges over the Bosphorus connects Asia and Europe. The Bosphorus Bridge is a suspension bridge span located between Beylerbeyi on the Asian side and Ortaköy on the European side. There are six lanes on the bridge. The towers are 165 m high from the ground and the distance between two towers is 1074 m. The height between the sea and the bridge is 64 m. The number of the vehicles that passed over the bridge has increased since the openning: In 1973 32,000, in 1987 130,000, in 2004 180,000 vehicles.

The Bosphorus Bridge was built in 1970-1973 due to the increasing population of the city and the transportation problem between two sides. During the first years pedestrians could walk across the bridge and the elevators inside the legs were open to the public. However, after many suicides it is no longer open to the public since 1978.

Building a bridge over the Bosphorus isn’t new. The first attempt was made by the Persian King Darius in 511 B.D. to transfer his 700,000-soldier army to the other side of the Bosphorus on the Scythian campaign. He ordered to put the boats over the sea and made a mobile bridge. Another attempt was during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamit II. in the early 20th century. In 1901 Italian architect Mondrakol made a bridge project and it was introduced to the Sultan. However, the Sultan didn’t allow the project and it was put on the shelf.

Did you know?

  • Many people attemped to commit suicide from the bridge. Most of them succeeded but a few of them survived luckily. The first attempt was on the 16th December 1974, 14 months after the openning ceremony.
  • The 1,000,000,000th vehicle passed through the bridge in 1999.
  • The Bosphorus Bridge was the second longest suspension bridge span when it was completed. Today it is the 15th longest suspension bridge span in the world.

Saffet Emre Tonguç, a Turkey travel guide tells the story of the Bosphorus:

Bosphours Tours

Bosphorus Tour Guide: Europan Side »
Bosphorus Tour Guide: Asian Side »

One of the best things to do in Istanbul is, of course, to take a Bosphorus cruise tour. IDO, Istanbul’s official sea bus and ferry company offers three Bosphorus cruise tours:

  • Short Circle Bosphorus Cruise (Kisa Bogaz turu) – 10 TL
  • Full Circle Bosphorus Cruise (Uzun Bogaz turu) – 25 TL
  • Full Bosphorus Cruise by night (Mehtap turu) – 20 TL

You can buy tickets from the IDO sales offices located in Eminonu.

Short Circle Bosphorus Cruise Tour (Kısa Bogaz Turu)

This tour is available every day and the ferry leaves from Eminonu at 14.30 and from Uskudar at 14.50. The tour takes 2 hours. The tour is held every day except only on Sundays and holidays between November and April.

Long Circle Bosphorus Cruise Tour (Uzun Bogaz Turu)

The full Bosphorus cruise takes several hours and offers a great Bosphorus experience taking you up to the Black Sea and back to Eminonu. The ferry stops for an hour in Anadolukavagi and you can have a nice raki-balik lunch in one of the fish restaurants on the shore.

Full Bosphorus Cruise Tour by night (Mehtap Turu)

This tour offers the same route as the full circle Bosphorus cruise but you will enjoy the Bosphorus at night when the whole city looks so great. The ferry stops for an hour in Anadolukavagi and and departs again at 22.00 for a wonderful moonlight cruise on the Bosphorus in the middle of two continents.

The full Boshorus tour by night is only available on Saturdays during the summer.

Enjoy your Bopshorus cruise tours in Istanbul!

Video Credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

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