A Boat Cruise in Paradise; Bosphorus Tour

Jun 8, 2021 | Turkey

Bosphorus has been a waterway that divides the city in two. No doubt that it’s one of the features that makes Istanbul very special. Besides its natural beauty, it has also been attention-grabbing for everybody since ancient times because of its strategic importance. Even the “Bosphorus” name comes from a Greek Mythologic Legend. According to the legend, our womanizer god Zeus was cheating his wife, Hera, with Io. It was easy for Hera to find out that as a Goddess. Then Zeus turned Io into a cow to protect her from the rage of Hera. Of course, Hera was aware of the situation; then, She gave Io to a hundred-eyed dog called Argus to guard her and keep Zeus away. He sent Hermes, the messenger god, to kill Argus, which was challenging since Argus always had fifty eyes open and fifty at sleep. Hermes took the form of a shepherd who is good at music and storytelling. Using his skills, Hermes lulled all hundred eyes of Argus to sleep and killed him. Mythology has it that Hera took all the hundred eyes of Argus and placed them on the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock, which was her symbol.

Bosphorus Mythology

She then sent a gadfly to sting bovine Io continually until she got mad. Indeed, Io was wandering from country to country like a mad cow, always being stung by the gadfly. During her journey, she crossed the path between Propontis and the Black Sea. Since then, this path was named Bosporus, which means “the passage of the cow.” Thus bous = cow, and poros = crossing-place: Bosphorus = “crossing-place of the cow.”

We know that Bosphorus was relatively silent and desert in Byzantine time. Ottomans were very interested in Bosphorus and realized its strategic location even before the Conquest. Because of that Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror and his Grandfather Sultan Beyazıt I built two fortresses on the narrowest area in Bosphorus to Control the strait. 

After the Conquest, Bosphorus started to change very fast with newly-established villages. Also, Statesmen’s Pavilions, mansions, gardens, mosques, and fountains made Bosphorus more popular and crowded. When this culture developed, music, a sense of fun, poetry, literature also added in time, and All entertainment started going on here. In this way, Levantine families began to be part of this area. 

Today, there are some examples of Ottoman Palaces and mansions that belong to today’s rich people.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace, one of the world’s richest museums, can be considered the best and most visited sights in Istanbul and the neighboring Hagia Sophia. Situated on a triangular peninsula dominating the Bosphorus and Golden Horn, it is a magnificent oriental palace and one of the world’s greatest architectural works.

Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace Museum is a magnificent one situated in a unique place located on the banks of Bosphorus in Besiktas. It was the residence of the last six Ottoman Sultans and Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. The white marble Dolmabahce palace has a basic European baroque style architecture with oriental texture.

Beylerbeyi Palace

Beylerbeyi Palace

Beylerbeyi Palace is one of the beautiful palaces in Istanbul, situated just under the Bosphorus Bridge, on the Asian side, in the Beylerbeyi neighborhood. Built-in between 1863-65, the historical palace was a summer residence for the Ottoman sultans. The architecture and interior is a mixture of Ottoman and Western design and decoration and furniture from 19th-century Europe. It has beautiful gardens and pavilions.

Kucuksu Pavilion

Kucuksu Pavilion

Kucuksu Pavilion is a pretty pavilion located nearby the Anadolu Fort, by the Bosphorus Asian shores. It was built in 1857 and was designed for the short stays of the Ottoman Sultans, who were away from the imperial residence for hunting in the woodland here.

Ottoman Mansions

Ottoman Mansions

Approximately 620 yali villas line the Bosphorus in neighborhoods like Bebek, Ortakoy, Tarabya, and Uskudar. Most are 19th and 20th-century builds, and as was common in those times, architects designed them with wood. Each house is unique with a specific style and architectural type, and 320 are protected, so owners must get permission for renovation and modernization.

In history, influential members of Ottoman society used them as summer retreat homes. These days, some operate as museums, hotels, and venues for hire for events like weddings. However, the inside of privately owned yalis is a mystery and now takes place as Turkey’s most expensive houses.

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Bosphorus
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