stay in Constantinople
(Istanbul) is not
complete without a traditional and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus,
that winding strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores offer a
delightful mixture of past and present, grand splendor and simple beauty. Modern
hotels stand next to yalı
(shorefront wooden villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses, and
elegant compounds neighbour small fishing villages. The best way to see the Bosphorus
is to board one of the passenger boats that regularly zigzag along the shores.
You embark at Eminonu and stop alternately on the Asian and European
sides of the strait. The round-trip excursion, very reasonably priced, takes
about six hours. If you wish a private voyage, there are agencies that
specialize in organizing day or night minicruises.
the journey you pass the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace farther
along rise the green parks and imperial pavilions of the Yıldız
Palace. On the coastal edge of the parks stands the Çiragan
Palace, refurbished in 1874 by Sultan Abdulaziz, and now restored as a grand
hotel. For 300 meters along the Bosphorus shore its ornate marble facades
reflect the swiftly moving water. At Ortaköy, the next stop, artists
gather every Sunday to exhibit their works in a street side gallery. The
varieties of people create a lively scene. Sample a tasty morsel from one of the
street vendors. In Ortaköy, there is a church,
a mosque and a synagogue
that have existed side by side for hundreds of years - a tribute to Turkish
tolerance at the grass roots level. Overshadowing Istanbul’s traditional
architecture is one of the world’s largest suspension bridges, the Bosphorus
Bridge, linking Europe and Asia.
beautiful Beylerbeyi Palace lies just past the bridge on the Asian side.
Behind the palace rises Çamlica Hill, the highest point in
Istanbul. You can also drive here to admire a magnificent panorama of Istanbul
as well as the beautiful landscaped gardens. On the opposite shore, the wooden
Ottoman villas of Arnavutköy create a
contrast with the luxurious modern apartments of neighbouring Bebek. A
few kilometres farther along stand the fortresses of Rumeli Hisari and Anadolu
Hisari facing each other across the straits like sentries guarding the city.
The Göksu Palace, sometimes known as Küçüksu
Palace graces the Asian shore next to the Anadolu Hisarı. The second
link between the two continents, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge straddles
the waterway just past these two fortresses.
Duatepe Hill, on the European side, you can admire the magnificent
panorama of the bridge and the Bosphorus. Below Duatepe, the beautiful Emirgan
Park bursts with color when its tulips bloom in the spring. On the Asian
shore is Kanlıca, a fishing village that is now a favoured suburb
for wealthy Istanbulites. Crowds gather in the restaurants and cafes along its
shores to sample its famous yoghurt. Shortly after Kanlıca and Çubuklu
is the Beykoz Korusu (Ibrahim Paşa Woods), a popular retreat.
In the cafes and restaurants there you can enjoy the delightful scenery and
clear, fresh air. Back on the European side, at Tarabya Bay, yachts seem
to dance at their moorings. The coastal road hustles with taverns and fish
restaurants from Tarabya to the charming suburbs of Sarıyer and Büyükdere.
Sarıyer has one of the largest fish markets in Constantınople and
is also famous for its delicious varieties of milk puddings and börek
(pastries). On past Sarıyer, the narrow strait widens and opens into the