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Istanbul  :: Bosphorus 

The Bosphorus, which connects Marmara Sea and Black Sea, is one of the most exquisite places in the world, with a width of maximum 3.200 m and minimum 550 m, maximum depth of 118 m and its length is 31,5 km. It was naturally formed at the beginning of the IVth Geological Era as the sea water occupied the deep valley. During the ages of Byzantine and Ottoman Empire small settlements Cropped up at both shores of Bosphorus and it was very much esteemed by the sultans and pashas where they built their kiosks and “yali”s (water-side residences) as of the 18th century.

Wearing effect of time caused the wooden buildings demolish and they were replaced with new ones. In place of the wooden Besiktas Palaces there appeared the Dolmabahce Palace and also Beylerbeyi Palace was rebuilt while stone buildings like Goksu were built and gave the Bosphorus its final outlook. With its architecture matching its natural delights the Bosphorus reached and incomparable beauty. The buildings embroidering the shores of free-flowing waters, being embraced by a green background as a whole offer a view of unceasing delight. Such a wonderful cruise will provide unforgettable memories. For this to attend a trip with a tourist ferry taking off from the Eminonu Jetty will suffice.

If you have the opportunity to take part in one of the private boat cruises or yachts, the trip will be even more delightful. Our tourist ferry will start leaving Topkapi Palace, St. Sophia and Suleymaniye Mosque behind. The Karakoy Jetty will be crossed arriving in front of Tophane. Here we see the Nusretiye Mosque, built by Sultan Mahmut II in Empiric style in 1825. The lead-covered mosque behind this mosque is a work of Mimar Sinan, who dedicated it to Kilic Ali Pasha. Passing Findikli and the very lively Kabatas Jetty, the Dolmabahce Palace appears with its mosque and Clock Tower. The mosque was dedicated to Sultan Abdulmecit’s mother, Bezm-ialem Valide Sultan and was built by Mimar Karabet Balyan in 1853. The Clock Tower between the mosque and the palace is 27 m high, and was built by Mimar Serkis Balyan in 1890 during Sultan Abdulhamit's reign. The palace built by Karabet Balyan by the order of Sultan Abdulmecit between the years 1843-1856 is 284 m long, and it is an ornament to the Bosphorus. The palace has three stories consisting of the men’s part, entertainment hall and the harem.

The separate premises next to the palace used to be the crown prince’s residence and today serves as the Paintings and Statues museum. Our tourist boat will steer to the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha Jetty named after the famous Turkish sailor.

A bit further there is the Naval Museum where the imperial boats of the Ottoman era are displayed. Behind the jetty, Barbaros tomb designed by Sinan and Sinan Pasha mosque, dating back to 1553, are visible. Past the State Guest House, the Ciragan Palace offers a magnificent view. Sultan Abdulaziz spent very little time in this palace which he ordered to be built by Serkis Balyan between the years 1863-1867, while Sultan Murad IV lived here for 28 years. After 1909 the palace was used as Meclis-i Mebusan (Parliament) building and was destroyed by a fire on January 20, 1919. It was restored in recent years and is functioning today together with an adjoining hotel. The green background to the Ciragan Palace belongs to Yildiz Park. Here takes place the Yildiz Palace with the sale (Chalet) Kiosk which was opened as museum and the Cadir and Malta kiosks which were recently restored and are being used as cafés. After the Ciragan Palace, the Ortakoy Mosque can be seen with its lean minarets and exquisite craftsmanship. Passing this mosque which Sultan Abdulmecit ordered to be built by Karabet Balyan in 1854 in Baroque style, we see the wooden “yali”s which Sultan Abdulhamid II gave to his daughters and they sail under the bridge, a 20th century symbol. The bridge which connects Europe and Asia is 1074 m long and was opened to traffic in 1973. Then comes Kurucesme. Here, we see the Galatasaray Island, covering a 1499 sq.m. area. The few remaining castles in the midst of green gardens offer an unique view. Arnavutkoy’s architecture of adjoining buildings is different from the rest. Then we come to the pearl of the Bosphorus, the Bebek Bay. With its yachts, houses and green hinterland, Bebek is the most elegant district of Istanbul. At the seaside, adjoining the park, the building of the Egyptian Consulate built in Art Nouveau style can be seen. This building was dedicated to the mother of Abbas Hilmi Pasha, Governor of Egypt. A bit further there is the Bebek Mosque built by Mimar Kemalettin between the years 1910-1913. The Kavafyan House dating back to 1751 and the Bosphorus University surrounded by green scenery seem to look down at the Bebek Bay. After Bebek, our boat steers to Rumelihisari. Here we get face to face with the magnificent Sultan Mehmed Bridge looking like the second collier of the Bosphorus.

The view of Rumelihisari embracing the sea seems to melt into the silhouette of the bridge. Before conquering Istanbul, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror ordered Rumelihisari to be built opposite to Anadoluhisari in 1452 to safeguard the Bosphorus. The big tower next to the door was built by Sadrazam Candarli Halil Pasha, the towers to the north by vizier Saruca Pasha, and the tower to the south by Zaganos Pasha.

This magnificent monument was finished in 4 months prior to the conquering of Istanbul. The building on top of the Hisar surrounded by parks belonged to the famous Turkish poet Tevfik Fikret and today is referred to as Asiyan Museum.

Sailing to Baltalimani, we see a building used as hospital today which was built by the order of Buyuk Resit Pasha and given to Princess Fatma as gift. After Baltalimani, we reach Emirgan. We see the Serifler Yalisi, which was built in 1635 by serif Abdulillah Pasha. This “yali” was originally intended as summerhouse and the part remaining to be seen today is the men’s castle.The green hills belonging to Emirgan Park, some historical castles in this park have been restored and are now being used for touristic purposes. After Emirgan with lots of green parks our ferry passes a bay in ‹Istinye and reaches Yenikoy where shores are adorned by “yali”s. The Afif Pasha Yalisi is striking with its exquisite craftsmanship.

One “yali” built in Yenikoy by Abbas Halim Pasha, Governor of Egypt in the 19th century is known by the name of his brother Sadrazam Sait Halim Pasha. On the other side of the jetty we can see the Faik and Bekir Beyler yali’s, the Kalkavanlar Yalisi and many others. The Italian Consulate is also an interesting architectural building.

Past Yenikoy and sailing towards Tarabya, the view is enhanced by the Kalender Orduevi (army-house), Huber Pasha Yalisi and Tarabya Grand Hotel. In Buyukdere, one of the yali’s was bought by the Koc family and converted into the Sadberk Hanim Museum. Today the archaeology and ethnography sections of this museum are noteworthy. Sariyer and Rumelikavagi are known for their cheap and fresh fish restaurants.

Opposite Rumelikavagi takes place Anadolukavagi. The boat stays here for two hours.After eating fish at Rumelikavagi, the sightseeing continues at the other side of the Bosphorus. First we view the Beykoz Pavilion. This pavilion amidst a green park was built by Mehmet Ali Kavalali, Governor of Egypt and given as a gift to Sultan Abdulmecit in 1854. Then we steer to Pasabahce where the Bottle, Glass and Raki factories are situated and pass Cubuklu where on top of a hill we see the Kuleli building and the Hidiv Pavilion.

Being built by Abbas Hilmi Pasha, Khedive of Egypt this castle has been restored in recent years and now is used for touristic purposes. After Cubuklu we pass the poetic Kanlica bay and arrive in Anadoluhisari. This Hisar (castle) was built in 1395 by Yildirim Beyazit. The oldest yali between Kanlica-Anadoluhisari is the Amcazade Huseyin Pasha Yalisi. From this red vaccine painted yali dating back to 1699, there remains only the Divan house today. The ceiling plated with gold and flower panel-covered walls are very interesting.

They were restored recently. Another Yali in Kanlica is the Etem Pertev Yalisi, a wooden embroidery which stood up to the year by preserving its original outlook. Still another striking yali is the red painted Hekimbasi Salih Efendi Yalisi between Kanlica and Anadolu Hisari. This Yali consists of one-floor, two-floor and three-floor premises and was built by Sultan Abdulmecit’s Chief Physician Salih Efendi in 1848. Sailing past Hisar, the Kucuksu Pavilion near the Kucuksu Stream displays an exquisite stone craftsmanship. It was ordered to be built as a three-story building by Sultan Abdulmecit in 1856.

The interior part is decorated with elegant pencil drawings. The graceful fountain in front of the pavilion, built in Empiric style, was dedicated to Sultan Selim III’s mother Princess Mihrisah in 1806. When our boat reaches Kandilli, we see the Count Ostrorog Yalisi with a background of green forest. This red-painted yali with plenty of windows was built by a Polish count.

The count arrived in Istanbul in 1900 and became a legal adviser to the Ottoman Empire. Next to this yali is the Mehmet Emin Pasha Yalisi, which has a long frontage towards the sea and was built by Mehmet Emin Pasha who became Governor of Aleppo in 1850 and later a Grand-Vizier.Between Kandilli and Cengelkoy, we see the Kuleli Askeri Lisesi (Military School) a stone building with long frontage, dating back to 1863. A bit further to the jetty in Cengelkoy we can see the red vaccine painted Sadullah Pasha Yalisi.

Built in the 18th century, this building passed from hand to hand until it was acquired by Sadullah Pasha in 19th century and became known under his name. The original drawings in the oval room of this two story building are striking. When our boat comes to the vicinity of Beylerbeyi Jetty, we can see next to the jetty the mosque built by Sultan Abdulhamid I for his mother Princess Rabia in 1778. Then we are face to face with the magnificence of Beylerbeyi Palace which contrasts with the Bosphorus bridge.

It was built as a summer palace by architect Serkis Balyan upon the order of Sultan Abdulaziz between the years 1861-1865. It has three floors consisting of men’s (selamlik) and women’s (harem) divisions. The furniture is an example of that time. In the upper part of the wide garden are three kiosks known as Yellow, Marble and Stable kiosks. Past Beylerbeyi the Fethi Ahmet Pasha Yalisi in Kuzguncuk known as “Pink Yali” was built in the 18th century.

In Uskudar we see a mosque built by Architect Sinan for Kanuni Sultan Suleyman’s daughter Princess Mihrimah at the jetty place that dates back to 1548 and at the shore there is the Semsi Pasha Mosque built by the same architect in 1580. Not far from here is the Kiz Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower), one of the symbols of Istanbul.

The tower was erected on rocks at 180 m. distance to the shore in 1718 after the Byzantine original collapsed. We now finish our trip between the historical monuments of the most beautiful passage in the world. This tour amongst nature and history will provide you unforgettable memories.


Above text and pictures are from the book titled "Capital of Three Empires Istanbul".

You can purchase "Capital of Three Empires Istanbul" book and other Turkey related books from Explore Turkey Bookstore.


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