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Bosphorus Strait (İstanbul Boğazı): description, photo, bridges, embankments, attractions, panoramas

The Bosporus (Bosfor, Istanbul Boğazı) is a strait in Istanbul and its surroundings, which is an intercontinental strait dividing Europe and Asia, as well as connecting the Black Sea with the Marmara.

The Bosphorus is also known as the "Istanbul Strait".

Together with the Dardanelles (the Strait of Canakkale, Çanakkale boğazı), the Bosphorus connects the Black Sea with the Aegean, which is part of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Bosphorus is one of the most important straits, as it provides access to the Mediterranean Sea and the oceans of a large part of Russia, Ukraine, the countries of Transcaucasia and southeastern Europe. Mainly agricultural and industrial products, as well as oil, are transported for export through the Bosphorus.

The length of the Bosphorus Strait is about 30 kilometers; its maximum width is approximately 3700 meters, and the minimum is 600 meters.

Almost at the point where the Bosphorus flows into the Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn Bay (Altın Boynuz or Haliç) meets the Bosphorus.

Most of the shores of the Bosphorus Strait, with the exception of those in the north, are densely populated sides of the city of Istanbul.

Bridges are thrown across the Bosphorus, and along its waters there are walking embankments, there are park areas, cafes and restaurants, as well as accommodation facilities (hotels, apartments)

The Bosphorus is one of the main attractions of Istanbul and its "breath", filled with the cry of seagulls, the sound of waves, pleasure boats, and attractive buildings, including historical palaces, fortresses, mosques and yalas (mansions built directly on the shore), are located on both sides of the Bosphorus.

Walking on the waters of the Bosphorus

Small ferries and yachts ply the Bosphorus Strait.

You can enjoy the views of the Bosphorus and its shores from the water from ferries that function as public transport in Istanbul (Istanbul transport cards are valid) and connect both the shores of the Bosphorus itself and the Bosphorus with the shores of the Golden Horn. Ferry berths are located both on both shores of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn Bay.

You can also walk along the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, taking an excursion walk through the reservoirs of Istanbul

Video of the Bosphorus from the water

Bridges across the Bosphorus

The Bosphorus is crossed by three bridges that connect the European and Asian sides of the Strait:

- The Martyrs' Bridge on July 15 (15 Temmuz Şehitler Köprüsü), formerly known as the Bosphorus Bridge (Boğaziçi Köprüsü) is the most famous of the bridges across the Bosphorus, which is located closest to the historical center of Istanbul.

It was the first bridge across the Bosphorus Strait, opened on October 29, 1973, to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. Then the bridge was called the "Bosphorus Bridge". After the attempted military coup on July 15, 2016, the official name of the bridge was changed to the "Martyrs' Bridge on July 15";

- The Sultan Mahmad Fatih Bridge (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Köprüsü) is the second suspension bridge across the Bosphorus Strait, located in Istanbul.

The bridge was built in 1985-1988, for the 535th anniversary of the conquest of the city. The bridge is named after Sultan Mehmed II Fatih (the Conqueror);

- Sultan Selim Yazuv Bridge or Sultan Selim the Terrible Bridge (Yavuz Sultan Selim Köprüsü) is the third bridge across the Bosphorus Strait, located north of Istanbul (closer to the Black Sea).

The bridge was built in 2013 - 2016 and opened on August 26, 2016.

The bridge was named after the Ottoman Sultan Selim I Yavuz the Terrible.

In addition to these bridges, underwater railway and road tunnels run under the Bosphorus near the waters of the Marmara Sea. Learn more about bridges across the Bosphorus with photos and descriptions...

Embankments along the Bosphorus in Istanbul

Along the waters of the Bosphorus, on both sides of Istanbul (European and Asian) there are walking embankments, and there are exits to the waters of the strait.

The embankments and exits offer beautiful views of both the waters of the Bosphorus and the Bosphorus bridges, as well as the opposite shores of the city.

The best and most visited embankments are:

- embankments in the districts Karakoy (Karaköy), Ortakoy (Ortaköy), Arnavutköy and Bebek on the European side of the Bosphorus;

- the embankment in the Usküdar area on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Also on the Asian side of the Bosphorus there are exits to the waters of the strait with small park areas and observation decks.

The main sights of Istanbul by the waters of the Bosphorus

On the European side of Istanbul:

- Topkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı), which for 400 years served as the main residence of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the administrative and educational center of the state.

Today, the former Topkapi Palace is a magnificent architectural monument of the 15th-19th centuries and is a complex surrounded by high walls. The Topkaps include: courtyards and the palace complex itself with an administrative part and a harem, as well as other buildings and panoramic terraces. Also in the complex is the Church of St. Irene. More about Topkapi Palace...

- Dolmabahce Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayı) is a magnificent palace complex of the 19th century, which served as the residence of the Ottoman sultans after the Topkapi Palace.

Dolmabahce Palace was built in 1843-1853 by order and for Sultan Abdul-Majid I.

Today, the Dolmabahce Palace is a Museum where you can visit the garden overlooking the waters of the Bosphorus Palace rooms, consisting of: official public part of the "Selamlik" (Selamlık) with function hall (Tören Salonu), Harem (the Harem), or the family part of it; and clock Museum, Museum of painting and sculpture (Resim ve Heykel Müzesi) and the Museum collections of the Palace (Saray Koleksiyonları Müzesi), is located in the building of the former kitchens of Dolmabahce Palace. More about Dolmabahce Palace...

- Dolmabahce Clock Tower (Dolmabahçe Saat Kulesi), which was commissioned by Sultan Abdulhamid II and designed by court architect Sarkis Balyan in the period from 1890 to 1895.

The clock tower was made by the French watch house of Jean-Paul Garnier and installed by the court watchmaker Johann Mayer.

The tower is located near the entrance to the Dolmabahce Palace Museum;

- Dolmabahce Mosque (Dolmabahce Camii), built according to the project of Garabet Balyan in 1853-1855. The mosque was commissioned by the Queen mother of Sultan Abdul-Majid I - Bezmlialem-Sultan.

The influence of Baroque and Rococo styles is noticeable in the interior of the mosque.

This elegant Ottoman-style mosque with two minarets is located near the Dolmabahce Palace;

- The Chiragan Palace (Çırağan Sarayı) is a former Ottoman palace with an adjacent park, which was built between 1863 and 1872 by Sultan Abdul-Aziz. More about the Chiragan Palace...

Today, the beautiful (Baroque) 5-star Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul Hotel is located in the renovated palace and on the adjacent territory.

At the hotel: a territory with a garden and a panoramic pool overlooking the waters of the Bosphorus, a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, a restaurant, a bar, a lounge, a gazebo, a Turkish bath, free private parking and Wi-Fi.

The room rate includes: breakfast or breakfast + dinner. Link to the hotel

- Feriye Sarayı Palace is a former imperial palace complex, which has now been transformed into school and university buildings.

The Feriye Palace was built for the family of Sultan Abdul-Aziz by the architect Sarkis Balyan and commissioned in 1871. The palace was built for the needs of a large sultan's family as an addition to the Dolmabahce and Chiragan palaces.

Today, educational institutions and a restaurant are located in the buildings of the former palace;

- Ortakoy Square and Mosque (Ortakoy camii), also known as the Grand Mosque of Medjidiye (Büyük Mecidiye Camii), which is a very popular mosque in Istanbul and, above all, due to the fact that it looks like a small sultan's palace and is located near the waters of the Bosphorus Strait, which makes the mosque one of the most photographed sights of Istanbul.

The mosque was built in the Ottoman Baroque style in 1853-1854 by decree of Sultan Abdul-Majid I.

The mosque has two minarets.

Mosque Address: Mecidiye, Mecidiye Köprüsü Sk. No:1 D:1, 34347 Beşiktaş/Istanbul, Turkey;

- Arnavutkey and Bebek Bebek districts are two historical districts (quarters), which are elite and one of the most picturesque districts of Istanbul and are part of the large Besiktas district (Beşiktaş).

Arnavutkey and Bebek border each other (one district flows smoothly into another) and attract attention with elegant low historical buildings, narrow streets and an abundance of catering.

Since the districts are located on hills, in the warm season they are surrounded by greenery, which makes them even more picturesque. Especially beautiful views of the districts open from the waters of the Bosphorus, when the districts look like tiny fairy-tale villages, whose houses come close to the water. Learn more about the districts of Arnavutkey and Bebek...

- Rumelihisar Fortress or Rumeli Hisary (Rumeli Hisarı) is a medieval fortress, which is now one of the most striking former fortifications and defensive sights of Istanbul.

Rumeli Hisary Fortress was built during the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1452, by order of Sultan Mehmed Fatih (the Conqueror). The fortress was intended to cut off Constantinople (now the city of Istanbul) From the aid and attack from the Black Sea and start preparing to conquer the city to make it the new imperial capital.

Today Rumelikhisar is a museum, surrounded by defensive walls with towers and gates. There are hiking trails on the territory of the fortress, there is a functioning mosque and a small cistern. The fortress offers panoramic views of the Bosphorus, Sultan Mehmed Fatih Bridge and the Asian part of the city. Read more about the Rumelikhisar Fortress with photos and description...

- Sakıp Sabancı Muzesi Museum is a museum of fine arts at Sabancı University, located in a historic mansion of the 19th century, where temporary and permanent exhibitions of Islamic calligraphy samples, paintings by Turkish painters, sculptures, some personal belongings of the Sabancı family, as well as documents of the state and religious history of the Ottoman era are presented.

The museum was founded by Turkish entrepreneur Sakyp Sabanji.

Museum Address: Sakıp Sabancı Caddesi No: 42 Emirgan 34467 Istanbul.

The museum's website:;

- Sadberk Hanım Muzesi Museum with a private collection of ancient artifacts from the Ottoman Empire, paintings and furniture.

The museum was created by the Vehbi Koch Foundation in memory of the late wife of Vehbi Koch Sadberk.

The museum occupies two separate buildings of charming 19th-century wooden villas in European style.

Address Museum: Piyasa Caddesi No: 25/29 Büyükdere 34453 Sariyer - ISTANBUL.

The museum's website:;

- Aşk-I Memnu Evı Museum in a historical mansion with carpet specimens.

On the Asian side of Istanbul:

- Maiden Tower (Kız Kulesi / Kyz Kulesi), also known as Leandrova Tower (Tower of Leandros) - a former lighthouse, which is now one of the main pearls and a symbol of Istanbul.

The tower is located on a small natural island in the waters of the Bosphorus Strait, a few meters from the shore of the Usküdar district.

During its history, the tower has been a lighthouse, a prison and a quarantine isolation ward.

The tower suffered from earthquakes, fires and weather conditions, but it was always restored. The last major renovation of the Maiden Tower during the Ottoman Empire was carried out during the reign of Mahmud II. After the restoration in 1832-1833, the tower was given its current appearance.

Today the Maiden's Tower can be visited. Views of the Bosphorus and its shores open from here. Learn more about the Maiden Tower with photos, description and history...

- The mosque of Shemsi Ahmed Pasha (Şemsi Ahmed Paşa Camii) is one of the masterpieces of Istanbul, which is very photographed.

They say that birds never land on this mosque, and this is due to the fact that the architect of the mosque, Sinan, designed it so that the roof of the shrine was exactly at the intersection of the winds, which birds are not able to cope with.

The mosque was built in 1580 at the expense of the ruler of Anatolia and Rumelia - Shemsi Ahmed Pasha.

The mausoleum of Shemsi Ahmed Pasha adjoins the mosque. The mosque complex also includes: madrasah, cemetery and courtyard. A minaret is attached to the southwest corner of the prayer hall;

- the Kuzgunchuk or Kusgunjuk district is the most colorful of the quarters of Uskyudar, which is sometimes called "gingerbread" or "toy".

This is a small pleasant quiet area near the waters of the Bosphorus, which has a rustic atmosphere with streets built up, including old colorful wooden houses, parks, a museum, mosques, churches, small shops and seaside cafes. More about Uskyudar and Kuzgunchuk...

- Beylerbeyi Sarayı Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayı) is a 19th-century palace in the neo-Baroque style, which served as a summer residence and accommodation for high-ranking guests of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.

The first wooden palace on the current site, known as the "Divergent Garden", was erected by order of Sultan Mahmud II in 1808-1839. After the destruction of the wooden building due to a fire, by order of Sultan Abdul-Aziz in 1863-1865, a new palace was erected, which acquired its current appearance.

Since 1912, the palace was the last residence of the deposed Sultan Abdulhamid II. Within the walls of the palace, the Sultan died in 1918.

Today the palace is a museum, which is a palace complex, which includes the main building of the palace with recreated interiors, as well as the surrounding garden with terraces, pavilions, sculptures, a fountain and a cafe.

The gardens of the Beylerbeyi Palace also attract attention by the fact that they have access to a terrace near the waters of the Bosphorus, which is used as an observation deck. More about the Beylerbeyi Palace with gardens and a terrace by the Bosphorus Strait...

- Beylerbeyi Mosque or Hamid-i-Evvel Mosque (Beylerbeyi camii, Hamid-i Evvel Camii) is an 18th-century sultan mosque, which is one of the most impressive mosques on the Asian side of Istanbul and is considered one of the most beautiful manor mosques in the city.

The mosque building was built by Sultan Abdulhamid I in memory of his mother Rabia Sermi Sultan, in the place where part of the former Beylerbeyi Palace was located. The mosque opened its doors for worship on August 15, 1778.

Since the mosque is located near the waters of the Bosphorus and suffered from constant water flows, it was changed during the reign of Mahmut II.

Mosque address: Beylerbeyi, 34676 Üsküdar/Istanbul, Turkey. Learn more about Istanbul mosques...

- Küçüksu Kasrı Palace is a neo-Baroque palace that served as the summer residence of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.

Translated from Turkish, the palace is called as "The Palace of Heavenly Water" or "The Palace of small water".

This miniature palace was built in 1857 by order of Sultan Abd-ul-Majid I. The construction of the palace was carried out on the site of a two-story wooden palace built during the reign of Mahmud I.

Today, the Kyuchuksu Palace is a striking monument of the Ottoman Empire and functions as a museum with recreated palace interiors. More about the Kyuchuksu Palace...

- Mihrişah Valide Sultan Fountain (Mihrişah Valide Sultan Çeşmesi) is a monumental elegant fountain built in 1805 by order of Sultan Selim III for his mother Mihrişah Valide Sultan.

The fountain is one of the historical sights of Istanbul and in its appearance reflects the Baroque and Empire styles.

The fountain is located near the Kyuchuksu Palace;

- Anadolu Fortress or Anadolu Hisarı Fortress is a small fortress (fort), which is one of the oldest architectural structures in Istanbul.

The fortress was built in 1393-1394 as a guard fort in the narrowest part of the Bosphorus Strait under the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I.

Mehmed I's grandson, Sultan Mehmed II, fortified the fortress with a two-meter wall and three additional watchtowers, and also added additional extensions, including a warehouse and living quarters. The fortress was used in the conquest of Constantinople.

After the Ottoman conquest of the city, Anadoluhisari served as a customs post and a military prison, and after a few centuries it fell into disrepair.

Today, only a part of the fortress remains, and it is clearly visible from the Bosphorus and the nearby street. Read more about Anadolukhisar Fortress with photos and description...

- The Hidiv Pavilion (Hidiv köşkü), built in the Art Nouveau style in 1907 by the last Khedive of Egypt, Abbas Hilmi Pasha.

The second name of the pavilion is "Chubuklu Palace".

The building has an Art Nouveau style with a tower overlooking the Bosphorus. In the center of the main entrance there is also a monumental marble fountain.

Today the pavilion has been restored and is surrounded by a garden. It is used as a restaurant for celebrations and a social institution. Website:

Pavilion Address: ubuklu Mahallesi, Hıdiv Kasrı Caddesi No:1/1 Çubuklu - Beykoz /Istanbul;

- Beykoz Medjidiye Mansion or Beykoz Palace (Beykoz Mecidiye Kasrı), which is one of the oldest pavilions in Istanbul.

The construction of the pavilion, which was started by the Egyptian Governor Mehmed Ali Pasha as a gift to Sultan Abdul-Majid in 1845, was continued during the reign of his son, the Egyptian governor Said Pasha, after the death of Mehmed Ali Pasha in 1849. The complete construction was completed in 1854.

The Medjidiye Pavilion was not very popular with Sultan Abdul-Medjid, but it was often visited by Sultan Abdulaziz, especially in the summer months. The pavilion was used during sultan's hunts, as well as for daily living and official receptions. The Sultan received the French Empress Eugenie here on October 15, 1869 and together with her watched the army parade from the pavilion.

Today, this two-storey pavilion is a museum and one of the most elegant historical mansions in the city. The mansion is located in surrounded by groves with terraces, magnolias, pines and lime trees. From the territory of the palace park there are views of the Bosphorus.

Pavilion address: Yalıköy, Beykoz Kasrı, 34820 Beykoz/Istanbul, Turkey.

Beykoz Museum website: beykoz-mecidiye-kasri. More about the palaces and pavilions of Istanbul...

Views of the Bosphorus from observation decks and observation points of Istanbul

In addition to the objects listed above, from which and from the territory of which panoramic views of the Bosphorus open, in Istanbul, good views of the Bosphorus and the surrounding area also open from (c):

- on the European side of Istanbul: with viewing platforms of the Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi Istanbul), viewing sites of the Sapphire Center (Istanbul Sapphire AVM), Ulus Park (Ulus Parkı), Doatepe Park (Dogatepe Parki) and Emirgan Park (Emirgân Korusu);

- on the Asian side of Istanbul: the Big Hill of Chamlyja (Çamlıca Tepesi), the observation deck of the TV tower of Chamlyja (Çamlıca TV Radyo kulyesi, Çamlıca Kulesi), Nakkashtepe National Park (Nakkaştepe Millet Bahçesi), Fethi Pasha Park (Fethipaşa Korusu) and Otagtepe Fatih Park (Otagtepe Park). Learn more about the observation decks and observation points of Istanbul...

Hotels near the waters and overlooking the Bosphorus in Istanbul

On the European side of the Bosphorus

5-star hotel The Peninsula Istanbul, which is one of the most luxurious in Istanbul and consists of four exquisite buildings, three of which are historical and beautifully restored.

At the hotel: private territory with a promenade near the waters of the Bosphorus, an outdoor pool with a terrace with sun loungers and a view of the Bosphorus, a 25-meter indoor pool, a restaurant, a lobby, spa and fitness centers, free Wi-Fi and facilities for disabled guests.

The rooms range in size from 40 to 89 squares. In the rooms and suites: mini-bar, safe, flat-screen TV, cable channels, air conditioning, heating, hairdryer, iron, coffee/tea maker, work desk, seating area, bath, bathrobes, slippers and free toiletries. Link to the hotel

Shangri-La Bosphorus 5-star Hotel, Istanbul with indoor pool, spa, restaurants, lobby lounge, free Wi-Fi and parking.

The hotel has rooms and suites with views of the Bosphorus, the city or the courtyard.

Breakfast may be included in the room rate. Link to the hotel

The 5-star Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus is located in a renovated 19th-century Ottoman mansion.

The hotel has its own garden, views of the Bosphorus, panoramic outdoor and indoor pools, bar, spa, free Wi-Fi and private parking. Link to the hotel

The 5-star Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul Hotel is located in a renovated Ottoman palace.

The hotel is a complex by the waters of the Bosphorus with a territory with a garden and a panoramic pool overlooking the waters of the Bosphorus.

At the hotel: swimming pools, spa and wellness center, fitness center, restaurant, bar, lounge, gazebo, Turkish bath, free private parking and Wi-Fi.

Luxury bed linen is provided in the hotel rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. All rooms have a balcony with views of the garden or the Bosphorus.

The room rate includes: breakfast or breakfast + dinner. Link to the hotel

The Stay Bosphorus Hotel combines late 19th century architecture with modern design.

The hotel has a fitness center, a business center and free Wi-Fi.

The rooms are equipped with a TV with satellite channels, a minibar, a coffee machine, air conditioning, a safe and free toiletries.

The hotel has rooms, penthouses, suites and family suites with views of the Bosphorus.

Breakfast may be included in the room rate. Link to the hotel

The 5-star Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus Hotel, Istanbul features a garden, a swimming pool with a sun terrace, a restaurant, a bar, a fitness center, a children's playground, a 24-hour front desk and Wi-Fi.

The hotel has family rooms and rooms with views of the Bosphorus.

Breakfast may be included in the room rate. Link to the hotel

Bebek Hotel By The Stay Collection -Adults Only with a terrace overlooking the Bosphorus, restaurant, bar, 24-hour front desk, free Wi-Fi throughout, room service.

The air-conditioned rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kettle/coffee machine, a safe, a minibar, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. All rooms have a wardrobe and a private bathroom.

The hotel has rooms and suites with views of the Bosphorus or the city. Link to the hotel

On the Asian side of the Bosphorus

The Bosphorus Palace Hotel is located in a renovated historical building in neo-Ottoman style, in a picturesque part of the Uskyudar district.

At the hotel: bar, garden, free Wi-Fi and parking.

The hotel rooms offer views of the Bosphorus or the gardens.

Breakfast is included in the room rate. Link to the hotel

Villa Luxurious Waterfront Mansion with Amazing Bosphorus View with Bosphorus View, garden, terrace, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, 2 bedrooms, TV with cable channels, fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher and refrigerator, washing machine and 3 bathrooms with a spa bath. Link to the villa

Hotel Sumahan - on the Water, located in a restored 19th-century distillery building near the waters of the Bosphorus.

At the hotel: a terrace with a view of the Bosphorus, a restaurant, a wellness center with a Turkish hammam and a fitness room, free parking.

Many rooms have a Turkish-style bathroom with marble trim. Meeting and banquet facilities with views of the Bosphorus are also available. Link to the hotel

A'jia Hotel, occupying a traditional Ottoman-style mansion on the shores of the Bosphorus.

At the hotel: a terrace with a view of the Bosphorus, a pavilion restaurant, a bar, family rooms, free Wi-Fi and parking.

There are rooms and suites with views of the Bosphorus or the park.

The rooms are equipped with a DVD player, satellite TV, mini-bar, safe, air conditioning, hairdryer, bathrobes and free toiletries.

Breakfast is included in the room rate. Link to the hotel

All accommodation facilities in Istanbul, including near and overlooking the Bosphorus, in the historical center, on the European and Asian sides of the city, can be viewed and booked here

You can get to hotels in Istanbul by public transport, taxi, rented car or using a shuttle with a guided tour.

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