Here's what you'll see on your Bosphorus
cruise, leaving Istanbul's Galata
Bridge at the mouth of the Golden
Palace No. 1: You motor out of the Golden
Horn past Topkapı
Palace, covering the hill at the tip of Saray
Burnu (Palace Point). More...
A 12th-century Byzantine fortress
occupied the tiny islet where the 18th-century Kız
Kulesi (also called Leander's
Tower) now stands. A tower here may
have served as a customs post. Featured
in the James Bond movie From
Russia With Love, the
tower now houses a restaurant.
The largest Asian district, directly
across the Bosphorus from Istanbul and Beyoğlu,
Üsküdar (Scutari) was once Byzantine Chrysopolis,
the "City of Gold." Byzantine armies
mustered here for expeditions into Asia along the
fine Roman roads that started here. Ottoman armies
did the same.
now an important commercial and residential district
of greater Istanbul. The large four-towered rectangular
building south of Üsküdar is
the Selimiye Barracks (1828, 1842-53)
which served as a military hospital during the
Crimean War (1855-56). It was here that Florence
Nightingale worked to establish the practices
of modern nursing and hospital care. More...
Palace No. 2: The façade
of this great Ottoman palace
(1853) is nearly a quarter of a mile
(400 meters) long. More...
Palace No. 3: Finished in
1874, the marble palace of Çirağan (CHEE-rah-AHN)
has a tragic history. Sultan Abdül
Aziz died here (1876) under
suspicious circumstances a few days
after he had been deposed. His nephew Murat
V and family were imprisoned
here in squalor by Abdül
Hamit II. In 1910, when in
use as the Ottoman parliament
building, the palace was totally destroyed
by fire. Fully restored, it now houses
meeting rooms and suites for the neighboring Çirağan
Palace No. 4: The swath
of green forest behind Çirağan
is Yıldız ("Star")
Park. At the top of the hill,
hidden in the trees, is the Şale
("chalet") Kiosk, a
50-room alpine chalet favored
by the secretive Sultan
Abdül Hamit II.
Smaller "kiosks" (small
palaces) are set elsewhere in
the forest. More...
You've probably seen photos
of the Mecidiye Mosque (1854),
the graceful Ottoman baroque
mosque standing by the western pylon
of the Bosphorus Bridge. The quaint Bosphorus town
of Ortaköy is
now filled with chic galleries, cafés,
boutiques, bars and clubs—a good
place to stop for a drink or a meal
if you tour the Bosphorus on land.
since the Persian emperor Darius built
his bridge of boats acoss the Bosphorus
in 490 BC, rulers of Istanbul have
dreamt of a bridge between Europe and
Asia. It was opened in 1973 on the
50th anniversary of the Turkish
Republic and put an end to decades
of car-ferry traffic delays. Tolls
paid for it in record time, and another
bridge, the Fatih, was built to its
In 2017, a third bridge, the Yavuz Sultan Selim, was opened closer to the Black Sea. In 2016 the Eurasia Tunnel, a vehicular tunnel beneath the Bosphorus, connected Old Istanbul in Europe with Kadıköy on the Asian Shore.
Palace No. 5: Like Çirağan
Palace a work of Sultan
Abdül Aziz, Beylerbeyi is
smaller but no less impressive. More...
here to continue with the Northern
Here's information on the various ways and boats to take a Bosphorus cruise. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan