Private Bosphorus tours will take you to Bosphorus – the famously beautiful stretch of water, 32 km long with the maximum of 3.700 m width, plays central role in the history of Byzantium, later Constantinople and today’s Istanbul. The Bosphorus, with the Golden Horn (an inlet of the Strait) and Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi) at its southern entrance, has a definite personality. The Bosphorus is the Persona of Istanbul, a beautiful female, who despite the disrespect that men show to that pretty lady, the Strait stays charming, inspirational and full of surprises.
That beauty, though, should not the least distract you. Bosphorus – the stretch of water that connects two seas, the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara and is the natural boundary between two continents, Asia and Europe (thus making Istanbul the only city in the world lying on two continents), can be really dangerous. For its rocks and deceiving currents (on the surface, the Bosphorus flows like a river from the Black Sea to the Marmara but there is another current, below the surface, which flows in the opposite direction), the Bosphorus is a real threat for the passing ships, the big ferry traffic and all the small fishing boats and those taking tourists on a journey along the Bosphorus.
Bosphorus is still a subject of debate today
The exact reason for the formation of the Bosphorus is still a subject of debate today. Whatever it is though, the Istanbul Strait (or the Istanbul Bogazi, as Turkish people call it) witnessed the passage of many heroes, mythological figures and various nations navigating in its waters. Jason and the Argonauts are said to have passed Bosphorus in their search of the Golden Fleece; the Persian King Darius had the first bridge built over the Strait to ensure the passing of his armies.
The name of the Bosphorus literary means ‘the place where the cow crossed’ or ‘ox-ford’. Behind the name there is the romantic story of the beautiful Io, one of the mistresses of Zeus’ (the God of Gods in Greek mythology). Io was turned into a heifer and condemned to wander around the earth. She was trying to escape the attention of the jelous Hera (Zeus’ wife) when she pushed across the Strait.
Once the strategic Bosphorus offers beauty and peace on private Bosphorus tours
Bosphorus’ strategic importance was one of the factors that helped Constantine the Great to make his decision and found there his new capital, Constantinople. First, it was the Persian King Darius. Later, in the mid-15th century, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed built a castle on the Bosphorus to get ready for the last Ottoman assault on the Constantinople. That castle can still be seen. If Europe is to be invaded from Asia, the only way is to cross the Bosphorus. The Strait has a long history of conflicts but for the day being, for the locals, for the tourists it is an extremely beautiful and peaceful place. It gives the meaning to the Turkish word ‘keyif’ (pleasure). For the Istanbullians ‘keyif’ is to drink raki (Turkish alcoholic drink), eat fish and watch Bosphorus. You can make it your tourist ‘keyif’ and have a Bosphorus boat trip on private Bosphorus tours.
Shores of Istanbul are highly populated
Nowadays, the shores of Istanbul are highly populated. You could easily say that as the population of Istanbul is enormous, 12 million and more people. It wasn’t like that in the early centuries. Then, there used to be only temples of the sea gods who ensured safe journeys through Bosphorus. Later, during Byzantine times, monasteries were built on the shores of the Strait.
However, it was during the Ottoman Empire when lovely wooden houses, palaces called ‘yali’ (waterside homes) started to appear on the shores of the Bosphorus. Built by the Pashas of the Empire and the rich people to enjoy spending the summer on the water, these ‘yalis’ became a symbol of a lost past. During the years many of them disappeared through neglect or fire. Sometimes the threat for them comes from the Bosphorus itself – ships hit them. Today it is fashionable for rich families to restore these lovely wooden palaces and live in them in the summer. Thus, one feels in touch with the Ottoman Empire.
Together with the few left yalis. On both sides of the Bosphorus beautiful houses attract the eyes of the tourists on private Bosphorus tours. For the locals, the Bosphorus means a great view; weekends spend there just to breathe the air of the Strait, to enjoy. This is a view which never stays the same; – continuous traffic – a cruise ship or a battle ship, ferryboats, fishing boats… For those who live on the shores of the Bosphorus; it is like having front row seats of a drama that never ends.
One of the best ways to explore the Bosphorus with its wonders is on one of the boats that take tourists around. It is an amazing trip – so peaceful and relaxing, though in the heart of crowded Istanbul. However, for the locals crossing the Bosphorus to go from one side to the other; from Europe to Asia or the opposite. It is the time when they can be with their own thoughts…
Two bridges across the Bosphorus
There are two bridges across the Bosphorus – the Bosphorus Bridge (or the first bridge), completed in 1973, and the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Bridge (or the second bridge), completed in 1988. Despite the worries and the absolute rejection of the idea for the bridges on the side of the locals the bridges didn’t spoil the beauty of Istanbul – the Bosphorus.
The Persona of Istanbul – a duty very well done by the Bosphorus, is the narrowest international waterway anywhere. A global super highway and an intimate city main street for craft that naturally connects two continents, Europe and Asia. A baby, around 7500 years old, the Bosphorus is the pretty lady that gives the appearance of Istanbul. The lady that leaves you totally breathtaken and dreaming…
Don’t miss that lady on private Bosphorus tours!