The Bosphorus Bridge. Below it is the Beylerbeyi Palace. “Bey” is the Turkish word for “man” or “gentleman.” The ending “-ler” (or “lar” depending on the word) makes it plural. Not sure if this makes the palace a “gentlemen’s gentleman” or what?
Today, I took a cruise from the mouth of the Golden Horn’s Galata Bridge down the Bosphorus. It was just a two hour cruise, so we did not go all the way to the Black Sea. This strait divides the city of Istanbul as well as the continents of Asia and Europe. The water flows from the Sea of Marmara (and the Mediterranean) to the Black Sea. I wish this had been a narrated cruise, but I have a good guidebook, so knew most of what I was seeing.
On top of our cruise boat. The canopy was quickly pulled back and we were in full sun the entire trip.
Leaving port, beside the Galata Bridge.
Going beneath the Galata Bridge. That’s the New Mosque on the shore.
Even cruise ships stop here.
On the water is the Kabatas pier, where I boarded a ferry yesterday to go to the Prince’s Islands. The Mosque is part of the Dolmabahce Palace and you can see the ornate palace clock tower just to the right of the mosque.
Dolmabahce Palace is an opulent early 19th century palace with a series or ornate gates along the waterfront, used the the sultan on the royal barge.
The Mecidiye Mosque on the European side with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background. Notice the crowd on men with their foreheads touching the ground. This scene is one of 5 times a day that men pray.
This small island is now a pool and restaurant.
It was a very sunny day, almost too bright for photos, so I’m lucky so many came out well. At the end of June, it is surprisingly cool. Temps this week stayed below 80F, while my old stomping ground of “Hotlanta” is above 90F.
Here is our first good view of the Fortress of Europe rising above and to the left of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
Bebek, famous for its marzipan. Oddly, the name means “baby” in Turkish. Most of the current homes are of stone and concrete, but originally, the fashionable summer homes and elegant villas along the Bosphorus were called yalti and made of wood.
The Egyptian Consulate in Bebek, a suburb of Istanbul. Built in the late 19th century, it is the only remaining monumental architecture in Bebek, once the home of the Ottoman elite. It’s still a fashionable address, however. This building shows the influence of Art Nouveau, with wrought iron railings worked into a leaf design.
On the Asian side of the bridge, hidden from view is the Fortress of Asia. It was build 50 years earlier than the Fortress of Europe as part of a failed attempt in 1396 by Beyazit I to take Constantinople.
This was our turn around spot–the Fortress of Europe and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (Mehmet the Conquer). This is the narrowest part of the Bosphorus and the waters flow fastest here. It was at this point that the Persian emperor Darius and his army crossed the Bosphorus on a pontoon bridge in 512BCE, on their way to fight the Greeks. We can see only one of the two famous fortresses that face each other across the waters here. The Fortress of Europe was built in just 4 months by Mehmet II (the Conquer) in 1452, as a prelude to his invasion of Constantinople the following year. The Fortress of Asia is on the other side.
Just left of center you can see a young boy fishing. The two towers behind are part of a military school.
The Beylerbeyi Palace, beneath the Bosphorus Bridge. The bridge was the first to be built across the strait. Construction began in 1970. It is the world’s ninth longest suspension bridge, with a length of 1,074 m. The Beylerbeyi Palace was build for Sultan Abdul Aziz in 1861 as a summer residence. Empress Eugenie of France visited (on her way to the opening of the Suez Canal) and had her face slapped by the Sultan’s mother for daring to enter the palace on the arm of the Sultan. Other regal visitors include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Close up of one of the Bathing Pavilions of the Beylerbeyi Palace. There were two: one for men and one for women.
Leander’s Tower was built on an islet in the 18th century. It once served as a quarantine center during a cholera outbreak. It’s also been a lighthouse, customs port and toll gate. Now it’s a restaurant. The tower is known in Turkish as Maiden’s Tower after a story about a princess who was confined here when a prophet foretold that she would die from a snakebite. Her father forced her to live here to protect her. The snake showed up in a basket of figs and the princess died anyway. The English name comes from the Greek myth of Leanders, who swam the Hellespont (Dardanelles) to see his lover, Hero.
The mosque on the left is the New Mosque (Yeni Cami) and the one in the center is the Suleyman Mosque.
On the Asian side, the Galata tower is one of the most recognizable features on the Golden Horn. It is 65 meters tall. It’s origins date for the 6th century where it was used to monitor shipping. The Ottomans turned it into a prison. In the 18yh century, aviation pioneer Hazarfan Ahmet Celebi attached wings to his arms and “flew” from it.
Back in port again. That’s the Suleyman Mosque, with four minarets and easy to spot from the waterfront. It’s probably Istanbul’s most important mosque, actually a huge complex and charitable organization. Built by Sinan, the most famous Ottoman architect, between 1550-57. It is named in honor of Suleyman the Magnificent and built on the site of the original Ottoman palace where Mehmet the Conquer lived while the Topkapi Palace was under construction.