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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Satellite image of the Bosporus, taken from the International Space Station in April 2004.
A map depicting the location of the Bosporus (red) relative to the Dardanelles (yellow) and the Sea of Marmara.

The Bosphorus or Bosporus (Greek: Βόσπορος), also known as the Istanbul Strait (Turkish: İstanbul Boğazı), is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles. The world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, it connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea). It is approximately 30 km (19 mi) long, with a maximum width of 3,700 m (12,139 ft) at the northern entrance, and a minimum width of 700 m (2,297 ft) between Kandilli and Aşiyan; and 750 m (2,461 ft) between Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. The depth varies from 36 to 124 m (118 to 407 ft) in midstream. The shores of the strait are heavily populated as the city of Istanbul (with a metropolitan area in excess of 11 million inhabitants) straddles it.

Two bridges cross the Bosporus. The first, the Bosphorus Bridge, is 1,074 m (3,524 ft) long and was completed in 1973. The second, Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Bosphorus II) Bridge, is 1,090 m (3,576 ft) long, and was completed in 1988 about 5 km (3 mi) north of the first bridge. Plans for a third road bridge, which will allow transit traffic to by-pass the city traffic, have been approved by the Ministry of Transportation. The bridge will be part of the "Northern Marmara Motorway", which will be further integrated with the existing Black Sea Coastal Highway. The location will be somewhere north of the existing two bridges, but the exact path is kept secret to prevent false rumour trading of lands on the possible routes.[1]

Another crossing, Marmaray, is a 13.7 km (8.5 mi) long undersea railway tunnel currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2012. Approximately 1,400 m (4,593 ft) of the tunnel will run under the strait, at a depth of about 55 m (180 ft).



View of the entrance to the Bosporus from the Sea of Marmara, as seen from the Topkapı Palace.
Ottoman era waterfront houses on the Bosporus.

The name comes from the Greek word Bosporos (Βόσπορος).[2] Its etymology is from bous (βοῦς: ox) [3] and poros (πόρος: "means of passing a river, ford, ferry") [4] , thus meaning "oxen passage". The similar Ancient Greek word for "passage, strait" is porthmos (πορθμός) [5] . The Greeks analysed it as "ox-ford" or "shallow sea ox passage"[2] and associated it with the myth of Io's travels after Zeus turned her into an heifer for her protection.[6] It has also been thought to be a Thracian form of Phôsphoros (Φωσφόρος), "light-bearing", an epithet of the goddess Hecate.

It is also said in myth that floating rocks known as the Symplegades or Clashing Rocks once crushed any ship that attempted passage of the Bosporus until the hero Jason obtained passage, whereupon the rocks became fixed, and Greek access to the Black Sea was opened.

Formation of the Bosphorus

A view of the Bosphorus strait, with the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge seen in the background.

The exact cause for the formation of the Bosphorus remains the subject of vigorous debate among geologists. Thousands of years ago, the Black Sea became disconnected from the Aegean Sea. One recent theory (published in 1997 by William Ryan and Walter Pitman from Columbia University) contends that the Bosphorus was formed about 5600 BC when the rising waters of the Mediterranean/Sea of Marmara breached through to the Black Sea, which at the time (according to the theory) was a low-lying body of fresh water.

Some have argued[citation needed] that the resulting massive flooding of the inhabited and probably farmed northern shores of the Black Sea is thought to be the historic basis for the flood stories found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and in the Bible in Book of Genesis, Chapters 6-9. On the other hand, there is also evidence for a flood of water going in the opposite direction, from the Black Sea into the Sea of Marmara[citation needed] around 7000 or 8000 BC.

Panoramic view of a portion of the Bosphorus, as seen from the Ulus neighbourhood on the European side, with the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge at left and the Bosphorus Bridge at right.

Biblical reference

The Bosphorus with the Castles of Europe and Asia. 19th century engraving by Thomas Allom. The castles are Rumelihisarı and Anadoluhisarı, respectively.

St. Jerome's Vulgate translates the Hebrew besepharad in Obadiah, 1-20 as "Bosforus", but other translations give it as "Sepharad" (probably Sardis, but later identified with Spain).[7]

Ancient Greece, Rome, the Byzantines and the Ottoman Empire

As the only passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosporus has always been of great commercial and strategic importance. The Greek city-state of Athens in the 5th century BC, which was dependent on grain imports from Scythia, therefore maintained critical alliances with cities which controlled the straits, such as the Megarian colony Byzantium.

The strategic significance of the strait was one of the factors in the decision of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great to found there in 330 AD his new capital, Constantinople, which came to be known as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. On 29 May 1453 it was conquered by the emerging Ottoman Empire. In fact, as the Ottoman Turks closed in on Istanbul, they constructed a fortification on each side of the strait, Anadoluhisarı (1393) and Rumelihisarı (1451).

Strategic importance

View of the Bosporus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge as seen from Rumelihisarı.

The strategic importance of the Bosporus remains high, and control over it has been an objective of a number of hostilities in modern history, notably the Russo–Turkish War, 1877–1878, as well as of the attack of the Allied Powers on the Dardanelles in 1915 in the course of World War I.

Several international treaties have governed vessels using the waters. Following WW I, the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres demilitarized the strait and made it an international territory under the control of the League of Nations. This was amended under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which restored the straits to Turkish territory – but allowed all foreign warships and commercial shipping to traverse the straits freely. Turkey eventually rejected the terms of that treaty, and subsequently Turkey remilitarized the straits area. The reversion to this old regime was formalized under the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Turkish Straits of July 1936. That convention, which is still in practical force as of 2008, treats the straits as an international shipping lane, but Turkey does retain the right to restrict the naval traffic of non-Black Sea nations (such as Greece, a traditional enemy, or Algeria).

Rumelihisarı on the Bosporus.

During World War II, through February 1945, when Turkey was neutral for most of the length of the conflict, the Dardanelles were closed to the ships of the belligerent nations. In the conferences during World War II, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin openly requested the concession of Soviet military bases on the Straits, even though Turkey was not involved in the war. This incident, coupled with Stalin's demands for the restitution of the Turkish provinces of Kars, Artvin and Ardahan to the Soviet Union (which were lost by Turkey with the Russo–Turkish War of 1877–1878, but were regained with the Treaty of Kars in 1921) was one of the main reasons why Turkey decided to give up its general principle of neutrality in foreign affairs. Turkey did declare war against Germany in February 1945, but did not engage in offensive actions.[8][9][10][11]

In more recent years, the Turkish Straits have become particularly important for the oil industry. Russian oil, from ports such as Novorossyisk, is exported by tankers to western Europe and the U.S. via the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles straits.


620 historic waterfront houses (yalı) stretch along the coasts of the Bosporus, such as the yalı of Kıbrıslı Mehmed Emin Pasha (Mehmed Emin Pasha the Cypriot).

A cheap way to explore the Bosporus is offered by the public ferries that traverse the Bosporus from Eminönü (ferries dock at the Boğaz Iskelesi) on the historic peninsula of Istanbul to Anadolu Kavağı near the Black Sea, zigzagging between the Rumelian and Anatolian sides of the city.[12]

It is also possible to experience the Bosphorus by taking a regular ride in one of the public ferries that travel between the European and the Asian sides. It is also possible to travel by the privately owned ferries available between Üsküdar and Beşiktaş.

There are also tourist rides available in various places along the coasts of the Bosphorus. The prices vary according to the type of the ride, and some feature loud popular music for the duration of the trip.

See also


  1. ^ "Turkey to issue tender notice for 3rd bridge on Bosphorus". Timeturk English. 13 July 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Entry: Βόσπορος at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  3. ^ Entry: βοῦς at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  4. ^ Entry: πόρος at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  5. ^ Entry: πορθμός at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, A Greek-English Lexicon,
  6. ^ Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 733.
  7. ^ Obadiah, 1-20.
  8. ^ Foreign Policy Research Institute: The Turkish Factor in the Geopolitics of the Post-Soviet Space (Igor Torbakov)
  9. ^ Robert Cutler: Turkish-Soviet Relations
  10. ^ Russia's relations with Turkey
  11. ^ Today's Zaman: Against who and where are we going to stand? (Ali Bulaç)
  12. ^ Explore Bosphorus with IDO, on the website of İDO.

External links

Coordinates: 41°07′10″N 29°04′31″E / 41.11944°N 29.07528°E / 41.11944; 29.07528


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Istanbul/Bosphorus article)

From Wikitravel

Second Bosphorus Bridge with the tower of Rumeli Fortress to the left
Second Bosphorus Bridge with the tower of Rumeli Fortress to the left

Along the Bosphorus (Turkish: Boğaz, but Boğaziçi –literally “inside the Bosphous”- is preferred when refering to the areas on the bank of Bosphorus, rather than the Bosphorus itself), the strait that lies between Marmara (an arm of Mediterranean) and the Black Sea, and separating Europe and Asia, lies a number of neighborhoods each with a different character, palaces of the late Ottoman period, and parks. This is quite easily one of the most scenic parts of Istanbul.

This article concentrates on European bank of Bosphorus. For the Asian bank, see Istanbul/Asian Side.

  • Buses to this district depart from Kabataş tram station, Taksim Square, and Beşiktaş among others.
  • Dolmuşes to Beşiktaş are available from Taksim, and Nişantaşı in European Side, and Kadıköy, and Bostancı in Asian Side.
  • Ferries from Üsküdar and Kadıköy in Asian Side anchor at Beşiktaş quay.

Get around

A wide array of public buses depart from Kabataş tram station (currently, terminus of T1 line) and head for different neighbourhoods lined along the Bosphorus, passing via Beşiktaş. All drive through the avenue which closely follows the waterfront. Line #25E makes the longest through service which takes around an hour, connecting Kabataş with the northern district of Sarıyer, leaving out only a few villages further north near the coast of Black Sea, which are accessible by connecting buses departing from Sarıyer.

Dolmabahçe Palace
Dolmabahçe Palace
The gate of Dolmabahçe Palace grounds
The gate of Dolmabahçe Palace grounds
  • Arnavutköy, (north of Ortaköy, south of Bebek). The neighbourhood of Arnavutköy (literally "Albanian village", paying homage to its founders in 1500s) features impressive wooden mansions that are 5 stairs tall lined at the waterfront, all bearing significant artwork on their facades.  edit
  • Dolmabahce Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayı), Dolmabahçe Cad., Beşiktaş, +90 212 236 90 00 (fax: +90 212 236 35 77), [1]. Tu-We/Fr-Su 9AM-3PM. See the Ottoman Palace centered close to Taksim at the Dolmabahçe shore. Build on 110,000 meter square ground with 285 rooms and 43 halls where the Ottoman empire was administered in the last 150 years. Visits only in guided tours (45 min) in major spoken languages. Extra fee for Harem, the part of the palace the residents lived. 15 TL for 'Selamlık', 10 TL for 'Harem', 20 TL for both. 1 TL for students.  edit
  • Emirgan Park (Emirgan Parkı), (about 20 min on foot away from main waterfront avenue). Situated on the gentle hill overlooking the neighbourhood of Emirgan and the Bosphorus, Emirgan Park was for long the only place in the city where Istanbulites can admire the beauty of tulips. Having lost that distinction in the last decade as tulips are now everywhere, this is still a beautiful park with artificial ponds, small waterfalls, and impressive views of Bosphorus. There are also cafes with open-air sections housed in pleasant former imperial hunting manors. Squirrels are there, too, in the middle of this metropolis of 15+ million people, though you may have to look a bit deeper (or a bit upper on the branches!) to spot them.  edit
  • Ortaköy— A shore line of the Bosphorus beside the Ortaköy mosque -the baroque mosque located under the Bosphorus Bridge, one of the most iconic images of Istanbul. This artsy neighborhood is filled with nice cafes and a perfect view crowded and fun.
  • Rumeli Citadel (Rumeli Hisarı), (on the waterfront, right next to the main avenue). Built in first half of 1400s, this is the large medieval castle under the Second Bosphorus Bridge. Its former name Boğazkesen (Turkish)/Laimokopia (Greek) means both "strait-blocker" and "throat-cutter" in both languages and denotes the reason of its building—to shut the supply routes from the Black Sea in the north into the slowly falling apart Byzantine Empire through the Bosphorus. Rumeli, literally "Roman land", was the name of the European half of Ottoman Empire, and as is usual with some other structures and villages along the Bosphorus, used as a prefix to differentiate Rumeli Hisarı from its counterpart in Asian Side, the much smaller Anadolu Hisarı, located just across the Bosphorus.  edit
  • Sakip Sabanci Museum (Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi), Sakıp Sabancı Caddesi 42, Emirgan (Buses: 40, 40T from Taksim; 22, 22RE, 25E from Kabataş. Get off at Çınaraltı stop), +90 212 277 22 00 (, fax: +90 212 229 49 14), [2]. Tu, Th, F, Su 10AM-6PM; W, Sa 10AM-10PM. Museum with a rich collection of calligraphy and paintings. It also hosts temporary exhibitions of works by some world-class artists such as Pablo Picasso from time to time. 10 TL (3 TL students).  edit
  • Bosphorus Cruise The best way to see the Bosphorus in all its beauty is to take a boat trip. This is the strategic waterway connecting the Black sea to the Mediterranean, and dividing Istanbul into two continents. As the boat zigzags between Asia and Europe, you can admire the old Ottoman wooden houses, 6 Ottoman palaces, 2 suspended bridges, and 2 medieval castles.

It is somewhat of a tourist trap. Oneway is 13 lira, retour 26. The standard price for one hop for locals is 1.5 lira. On sundays there are less boats. If you are not so lucky/fast to get one of the few deckseats it gets very hot inside, even hotter than in the city.

There are also daily trips from Eminönü, by 10.30AM in the morning and come back by 4.30PM in the evening. It costs 20 YTL per trip per person. There is an additional boat by 1.30PM in summer.

For travelers that don't want to bother with getting off the boat/taking the bus to take a deeper look into some of the Bosphorus neighbourhoods, there are also boats departing from Ortaköy which allow you to see waterfront from a distance up to the Second Bosphorus Bridge in the north, though they don't allow you to get off at any neighbourhood quay you like (in fact they don't stop anywhere until they get back to Ortaköy).

  • Naz Turkish Cuisine, Bayıldım Cad. No:2 Maçka, Beşiktaş, +90 212 326 11 75, [3]. 11:30AM-1AM. Turkish cuisine.  edit
  • Park Fora [4]. Great seafood, located in Kuruçeşme park right on the edge of the sea, it has a very nice view of the Bosphorus and Bosphorus Bridge. The waiters know English. Prices range from 50 - 150 YTL per person.
  • Divan Cevdet Paşa Caddesi No: 121, Bebek, +90 212 257 72 70 [5]. At first sight it may seem like a mere patisserie, but walk downstairs and you'll find a lovely restaurant with the waters of the Bosphorus right next to you. The food is simply first-class and the service is very good, too.
  • Sheerwood, Kaymakçı Sokak 14, Ortaköy (close to the Ortaköy Mosque), +90 212 231 00 44. This pub/bar has extremely friendly staff service, and cheap drinks. At nights it becomes a sort of disco.  edit
  • Q Jazz Club, Ciragan Caddesi 84, Besiktas, +90 2122362121. 10AM-4AM. Jazz lovers cannot miss this a 17th century brick cellar style bar that caters to the whims of jazz fans.

Two of the hottest clubs of Istanbul are in Ortaköy:

  • Crystal, Muallim Naci Caddesi 109, +90 212 2611988. Midnight-5AM. One of Istanbul’s biggest underground clubs: house and techno can be heard on Fridays and Saturdays, garage and jazzy house on Wednesdays.
  • Reina, Muallim Naci Caddesi 10 [6]. Actually a vast playground filled with bars, restaurants and dance floors. Voted one of the best outdoors clubs in Europe.
  • Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Çiragan Caddesi No:32, Besiktas, +90 212 326 4646 (fax: +90 212 259 6687, [7]. Located on the Bosphorus coast just south of the main square of Ortakoy, this hotel is in a residence of the last Sultan. Rooms come with air-con, TV, minibar and safety deposit box. Hotel has several restaurants and lounges, pools, jacuzzi, Turkish baths, gym and other amenities. Rooms start around $450 (USD) and can get much higher.
  • Ritz-Carlton Istanbul, Suzer Plaza, Elmadag, Askerocagi Cad. No: 15, Sisli, Phone: +90 212 334 44 44 (fax: +90 212 334 44 55), [8]. Standing tall near the Bosphorus, the Ritz Carlton is located in the heart of Istanbul overlooking the Bosphorus and Dolmabahce Palace.
  • W Hotel Istanbul, Suleyman Seba Cad No: 22, Akaretler, Beşiktaş, Phone: +90 212 381 2121, [9]. Just opened in April 2008, the W Hotel chain continues to impress in Istanbul with rooms and suites adorned with wi fi, flatscreen TVs, and the signature W Hotel luxuries that has made its hotels famous. Fitness center and business center onsite as well as a fine dining restaurant that tempts patrons with its decadent offerings.
  • Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul, Bayıldım Caddesi No:2 Maçka, Beşiktaş, +90 212 326 1100 (fax: +90 212 326 1122, [10]. Located on a hill behind the Dolmabahce Palace, the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans. Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul commands panoramic views of the Bosphorus, the Asian coast and the old city of Istanbul.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BOSPORUS, or BOSPHORUS (Gr. Boo ropos=ox-ford, traditionally connected with Io, daughter of Inachus, who, in the form of a heifer, crossed the Thracian Bosporus on her wanderings). By the ancients this name, signifying a strait, was especially applied to the Bosporus Cimmerius (see below), and the Bosporus Thracius; but when used without any adjective it now denotes the latter, which unites the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmora and forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. The channel is 18 m. long, and has a maximum breadth at the northern entrance of 24 m., a minimum breadth of about Boo yds., and a depth varying from 20 to 66 fathoms in mid-stream. In the centre there is a rapid current from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmora, but a counter-current sets in the opposite direction below the surface and along the shores. The surface current varies in speed, but averages nearly 3 m. an hour; though at narrow places it may run at double this pace. The strait is very rarely frozen over, though history records a few instances; and the Golden Horn, the inlet on either side of which Constantinople lies, has been partially frozen over occasionally in modern times. The shores of the Bosporus are composed in the northern portion of different volcanic rocks, such as dolerite, granite and trachyte; but along the remaining course of the channel the prevailing formations are Devonian, consisting of sandstones, marls, quartzose conglomerates, and calcareous deposits of various kinds. The scenery on both sides is of the most varied and beautiful description, many villages lining each well-wooded shore, while on the European side are numerous fine residences of the wealthy class of Constantinople. The Bosporus is under Turkish dominion, and by treaty of 1841, confirmed by the treaty of Berlin in 1878 and at other times, no ship of war other than Turkish may pass through the strait (or through the Dardanelles) without the countenance of the Porte. (See also CONSTANTINOPLE.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

the Bosporus


the Bosporus

  1. Alternative spelling of Bosphorus.

Simple English

File:Istambul and Bosporus
Satellite image of the Bosporus, taken from the International Space Station in April 2004
View of the Bosporus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge as seen from Rumelihisarı

The Bosporus or Bosphorus[1] is a strait that forms the boundary between the European part of Turkey and its Asian part (Anatolia). It connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. It is about 30 km long, with a maximum width of 3,700 metres at the northern entrance, and a minimum width of 700 metres between Kandilli and Aşiyan; and 750 metres between Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. The depth varies from 36 to 124 metres in midstream.

The shores of the strait are heavily populated as Istanbul is nearby.


  1. also known as the Istanbul Strait, (Turkish: İstanbul Boğazı) (Greek: Βόσπορος)

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Coordinates: 41°07′10″N, 29°04′31″E


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