Few places on Earth are as rich with beauty and history, as the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. If you’re planning a trip to Istanbul, there’s no better way to experience the city than on a Bosphorus cruise. Here are just a few of the famous attractions you’ll see along the way.
Finished in 1856, Dolmabahçe Palace is now a lavish monument to the end of the Ottoman Empire, and the transition to modern Turkey. When it was built, it was a decadent display of wealth by the Caliphate. Dolmabahçe Palace housed the last Sultans in modern, European-style luxury, and symbolized the wealth and power of the Empire. The spectacular palace took a heavy toll on the state’s resources, however, and precipitated the collapse of Ottoman rule. Today, the palace holds significance to Turks as the residence of President Atatürk during his final years. For many years, all of the clocks in the palace were stopped at 9:05, the moment of the celebrated president’s death. Like many of Istanbul’s famous sites, Dolmabahçe Palace is spectacularly lit up at night. Whenever you take your Bosphorus cruise, however, expect a stunning view of its facade.
The Bosphorus Bridge
Connecting Europe to Asia is one of Istanbul’s most iconic structures: the Bosphorus Bridge. The bridge was completed in 1973, the first to stretch across the Bosphorus in all of Istanbul’s long history. When it was completed, it was the longest suspension bridge outside of the United States ever built. The Grand Imperial Mosque, known to locals as the Ortakoy Mosque, flanks the bridge on its south side. This is one of the most photogenic, and famous, vistas in Istanbul. For an especially breathtaking view, choose a dinner cruise or sunset Bosphorus cruise to see the bridge illuminated with LED lights.
Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses
The European and Asian shores of the Bosphorus are each flanked by these fully restored fortresses from the 14th and 15th centuries. The grander of the two, Rumeli Fortress, was built in 1492 in an astounding four months. It was originally built by the Sultan to control traffic and supplies entering the Bosphorus from the Black Sea. Today, the fortress is beautifully restored, and houses a museum and an amphitheatre for summer concerts.
On the Asian side of the strait sits the smaller, but equally picturesque Anadolu Fortress. Built in the 14th century at the Bosphorus Strait’s narrowest point, the Anadolu is the oldest Turkish structure in Istanbul today. Structures have been added to the Anadolu fortress since it was built, most notably the charming wooden houses along the shore. Since the fortress tower is not open to the public, the best way to view it is from a cruise along the Bosphorus.
Of course, there's more to a Bosphorus cruise than the view. The sites and attractions of the Bosphorus are best enjoyed with someone you love, over a sumptuous meal or meze.
This article was published with the cooperation of Zoe Yacht - licensed Bosphorus cruise operator.