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Among the world’s most strategic waterways, Bosphorus may be the strait relating to the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara; it is an inundated valley that comes after an unusual northeast-southwest course 32 km (20 miles) long, 730-3300 meters (800-3600 yards) wide, 30-120 m (100-395ft) deep.

Bosphorus comes from a Tracian word of unknown origin, construed in Greek as indicating “Ford with the Cow”, in the legend of Io, among the numerous lovers of Zeus, who swam over the sea here as a cow chased and constantly disturbed by flies sent by Hera.
Known in Turkish as Bogazici (the Strait), it links the Black Sea with all the Sea of Marmara and, with the Dardanelles (in Canakkale), separates Europe from Asia. It is a former river valley that was drowned by the sea after the Tertiary period. This can be a very busy strait with lots of ships and oil tankers, in addition to local fishing and passenger boats.

The current flows north to south; however, a strong subsurface countercurrent with plenty of points and coves sets up swirls and eddies which make navigation dangerous towards the unskilled.

There are two suspension toll bridges about this Strait: The first over the Bosphorus between Beylerbeyi and Ortaköy, opened in 1973, is called as Bogazici Bridge, 1074m (1175yards) long, 6 lanes, 165m (540ft) height of piers. The second one between Anadolu Hisari and Rumeli Hisari, opened in 1988, is known as as Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, 1090 m (1192yd) long, 8 lanes, 65m from the water.

Using the shores rising to heights as much as 200 m (650ft), lined with palaces, ruins, villages, and gardens, this is probably the most beautiful stretches of scenery in Turkey. The best way of seeing the Bosphorus in most its beauty is to vacation on one of the coastal boats, in this way you can also admire most of the old Ottoman wooden houses (known as Yali in Turkish). You may also remain in some of the best hotels or eat in certain of the very best dining places along its coast line during your stay in this magnificent city.

Some of the fascinating palaces, structures or neighborhoods on the Bosphorus are: Galata tower, Dolmabahce Palace, Ciragan Palace, Yildiz Palace, Besiktas, Ortaköy, Arnavutköy, Bebek, Rumeli Fortress, Tarabya, Yeniköy, Istinye, Sariyer, Uskudar (Scutari), Kanlica, Beykoz, Anatolian Fortress, Beylerbeyi Palace and Kuleli Military High school.

The Bosphorus is the 32 kilometres (20-mi)-long strait which joins the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea in Istanbul, and separates the continents of Asia and europe.

It’s great for a half-day cruise north toward the Black Sea. You are able to go back to Istanbul by land along the European shore and find out all the sights.

The width of the Bosphorus varies from 500 meters (1640 feet) to 3 km (2 miles), its depth from 50 to 120 meters (164 to 394 feet), averaging about 60 meters (197 feet) deep.

It runs through one’s heart of Istanbul, past the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, several Ottoman palaces, a minimum of two fortresses, forested hills, and shore villages with Ottoman architecture.

Traditionally called Bogazici , more recently it’s been called the Istanbul Bogazi, Istanbul Strait, perhaps to differentiate it in the Dardanelles (Hellespont), known as the Canakkale Bogazi.

Its English name comes from a Greek legend: Zeus had an affair having a beautiful women named Io. When Hera, his wife, discovered his infidelity, she turned Io right into a cow and made a horsefly to sting her about the rump. Io jumped clear across the strait. Thus bous = cow, and poros = crossing-place: Bosphorus = “crossing-place from the cow.”

Current marine ancient research within the chill, deep waters of the Black Sea has revealed sunken cities on the underwater slopes along the Turkish coast.

Geological evidence props up theory that in ancient times the northern end of the Bosphorus was obstructed by earth and rock. The Black Sea had no outlet (like Lake Van today), and it is water level was below that of the Aegean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosphorus.

However, an earthquake destroyed the Bosphorus blockage, releasing a deluge of water in the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, raising water level and flooding its coastal communities. Therefore it may well be that the Bosphorus is the source of Noah’s flood and the legend of Noah’s Ark! (Mount Ararat is also in Turkey.)

The Bosphorus is a waterway from the highest importance since ancient times. Ulysses passed through. Byzas, who founded Byzantium (later Constantinople, later Istanbul) sailed down and up searching for the perfect place to found his village.

In 1452, Mehmet the Conqueror ordered the making of the mighty fortresses of Rumeli Hisari (Fortress of Europe) and Anadolu Hisari (Fortress of Anatolia) so he could control the strait and prevent supports from reaching the besieged Byzantine capital of Constantinople.

To the Ottomans it had been mostly a hurdle: each spring they had to ship their gigantic armies across the strait from Istanbul for campaigns in Anatolia, Syria and Persia.

During World War I, the Bosphorus was the important thing towards the Black Sea and Russia. The Sultan held the important thing. The Entente powers wanted it. The things they didn’t enter battle they were given by treaty, and British gunboats anchored outside Dolmabahce Palace.

Today, the best way to benefit from the Bosphorus is to have a cruise by conventional ferry or TurYol boat, a self-guided tour of the European shore, or to relax in a tea-house or cafe along its shores.

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