It was donated by Admiral Kilic Ali Pasha and built by the architect Sinan in 1580, on the shore of the Bosphorus. The designs of the domes and the structure of the high side walls, remind us of Haghia Sophia.
Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque
Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque
The tiles in the inner hall, especially on the mih-rab, have been arranged artistically. The lunettes with stained glass are also noteworthy. In the garden of the mosque are the turbe (tomb) of the donor and an old Turkish Bath.
These are the islands located 19-28km off Is-tanbul in the south-eastern part of the Marmara Sea. Ferries departing from Sirkeci reach the islands in 55-80 minutes.
This archipelago consists of four big and inhabited islands, and five smaller and uninhabited ones.
The Princes’ Islands
The ferry stops only at the four islands. In antiquity they were called People’s Islands, in By-zantine times they were named Priests’ Islands because of the countless cloisters on the islands, and the ferruginous colour of the stones made the Turks describe them as Red Islands (Kizil Ada-lar).Only a century ago did tfiey become popular as a resort and as a place to bathe. Monks and fishermen used to live Ihere.Since they are close to the city, and there.is a scheduled ferry connec-tion, the Princes’ Islands are favourite resorts to-day. Apart from the garbage trucks, police cars andfiretrucks there is notrafficon the islands, on-ly horse carriages, which visitors welcome for ex-cursions, are admitted for transportation.
This island is the closest one to Istanbul. Its quite bare and has small bays. Kinali gets its name from the reddish colour of its cliffs along the shore. Of the monasteries which once were prisons, only fragmentary walls remain.
Burgaz 1.5 sq.km,
Probably an ancient watchtower, which existed on its summit until the 19th century, accounts for this name (pyrogos=tower). The former residents were mostiy Greeks, and there are now different churches from tdat time. Burgaz has a beautiful pine forest and a lot of summer villas. Its highest point with 162 metres offers a wonderful view.
Heybeli (the Saddle-Bag Island)
2.3 sq.km. It was originally named tfie Copper Island after the old copper mine on the island. The current name refers to its form. The Monastery of the Holy Trinity which now houses a theological school, was erected in 857 and is located on the northern hill. In the saddle of the two hills is the Naval Hospital, and to the left of the ferry-landing we see the building of a former Orthodox orphanage which was turned into the Turkish Naval Academy in 1944. With its beautiful beach, hotels and res-taurants,Heybeli has became a favourite holiday resort.
5.4 sq.km. It’s the biggest and most important of the Princes’ Islands and most tourists visit this island. A lot of beautiful villas, clubs and hotels attract many guests in summertime, when the island be-comes overcrowded. Two hills dominate the is-land. Each one has a monastery: To the north on “Isa Tspe” the is Monastery of Christ, and to the south on “YiiceTepe” is the old monastery of St. George, from where we enjoy an impressive view of the sea.
Sedef Ada (the Mother-of-Pearl Island)
This isle is only inhabited during summertime. There are a few pretty villas on it. Since the ferry doesn’t stop here, motor boats provide transpor-tation between Sedef Ada and Buyuk Ada in summer.
Yassi Ada (the Rat Island)
Today we see the remains of the old monaster-ies and the ruins of the palace of the English Am-bassador Sir Henry Bulwer (1857). In 1960 the overthrown minister was imprisoned in the new building we see in front of the ruins.
Sivri Ada (the Pointed Island)
In 1910 thousands of stray dogs were brought here.
Kasik Ada (the Spoon Island)
It’s located opposite the ferry-landing of “Heybeli”. This island takes its descriptive name from its form.
Tavsan Ada (the Rabbit’s Island)
It’s located to the south and is the smallest is-land in the group.
Being one of most famous sysmbols of istanbul, the history of Maiden’s Tower cannot be separated from numerrous legends surrounding it.
According to the prevalent legend in Turkey, one Ottoman sultan one day sees, dreams that he loses his beloved daughter bitten by a snake. He orders a tower to be built in the middle of the sea and sends his daughter to this tower. However, a snake sneaking into a basket of grapes sent by the sultan to his daughter causes the beautiful princess to die.
The tower we see today is built out of stone in 1719 by ibrahim Pa?a of Nev?ehir. The stone tower situated between Harem and Salacak coasts is 180 meter away from the shore based on the rocks in the sea.
The light of the tower has a red light that blinks every 3 seconds and can bee seen 4 miles away. Maiden’s Tower is restaurant today where boats are provided on the shore.
The word Bosphorus means “Ford of the Cow” and takes its name from a myth:
it was the favourite of Zeus, but Hera, the wife of Zeus was jealous of her. To protect lo Zeus turned her into a cow, but Hera sent a bee, which irritated the cow, so that it plunge into the Bos-phorus and crossed the strait.
The Bosphorus Bridges
The Bosphorus is a tributary of the Black Sea leading to the Marmara Sea. It is 31.7km long. At Buyukdere, the width is 3.3km, and the narrowest point is (660m) at the Castle of Rumeli Hisari, the widest point is 4.7km., and the average depth is 70m. The deepest point is at Akintiburnu (in Arnavutkoy, 100m), where the current is at its strongest.
Two currents are effective in the Bosphorus: a surface current and a sub-surface current, which flows at 40m below the surface.
Through the surface current the waters flow at a rate of 3-4km per hour from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, and the lower current moves the dense and more saline waters of the Marmara to the Black Sea.
Both shores of the Bosphorus are indented with bays and harbours. Palaces, castles, villages and woods of cypresses, umbrella pines, plane trees, Judas trees and magnolia trees decorate this dreamland between Europe and Asia. Today the Bosphorus is the summer resort of over ten thou-sand city dwellers. Following the Conquest (1453), Istanbul devel-oped beyond the city wails, and it’s believed that Suleyman the Magnificent (16th c.) started the settlement along the Bosphorus. The mosques, and the first yalis (summer palaces of high offi-cials), were built then. In the 17 th century the yalis and the summer palaces of the sultans, reached to the north along both shores. The buildings, which embellished the shores like a pearl necklace until the 19 th century, were constructed of wood, and the architecture and decorations were influ-enced by the rococo style. With the nineteenth century a different era started, as more and more people settled along the Bosphorus. In the middle of the century, splendid palaces like Dolmabahce, Beylerbeyi and Kucuksu were constructed in the European style. Till recently, real estate specula-tion threatened the whole Bosphorus area, the beauty of the shores and the existence of the remairiing “yalis”. In the meantime a powerful spe-cial law was passed to put the Bosphorus and its valuable buildings under protection.
Now we want to explore the Bosphorus. My de-scription will not follow the route of the ferries, which flit back and forth between the two shores. We will assume that we are sailing along the European shore in the direction of the Black Sea and will cover the same distance on our way back along the Asiatic shore.
The Euopean Shore of the Bosphorus:
Besiktas (cradle stone) is the name of the first district. The Naval Museum is lo-cated behind the ferry-landing. In the park next to the museum, is the statue of the Turkish Admiral “Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa”, who lived in the 16 th century. In 1946, the statue was erected on the 400th day of his death.
Farther to the left we see the burnt out Ciragan Palace , which was built in 1864 and gutted by fire in 1910. On the hill behind the palace is Yildiz Park (Park of stars), with a palace and a pleasure pavilion .
Ortakoy (middle village) is the second stop on the European shore. lt is situated just before the Bosphorus Bridge. The pretty 19 th century “Ortakoy Mosque” stands on the shore before the bridge pylons. Then we sail under this suspensionbridge over the Bosphorus. On 29 th October 1973 it was dedicated to the 50 th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. The bridge constructed by the Ger-man firm “Hoch-Tief” and the British firm “Cleve-land-Bridge” and was completed in three and a half years, is 1074m long between both pylons, and its total length is 1560m, the pylons them-selves are 165m high. The roadway is 64m above water level, and is 33.40 m wide, taking six lanes of traffic.
It’s the second longest suspension-bridge in Europe, and the fifth longest one in the world, after the Humber Bridge in England, the VerrazanoNarrows in New York, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan.
Approximately 200.000 vehicles cross the bridge every day, and it has paid for itself three times over. Because of the heavy traffic on the bridge, the authorities are now planning the sec-ond one over the Bosphorus.
Kuruçesme is unfortunately the only ugly village with heaps of sand and coal lying on the shore, but the authorities have planned to restore this area in the near future.
Arnavutkoy (the Albanian village) was earli-er inhabited by the Albanians. It has a picturesque harbour with old villas along the shore. The deepest part of the Bosphorus (100m) is off the point of Arnavutkoy.
The Bosphorus Bridges
Bebek with its rollings hills, is located on the bay of the same name. Right on the water’s edge, is the Egyptian Embassy. Today, Bebek is one of the most affluent neighbourhoods of Istanbul. Bosphorus University stands on its northern hill.
Rumeli Hisari is the most beautiful area on the Bosphorus. The narrowest point of 660m, is be-tween the two old Turkish castles, which are situ-ated facing each other. On the European side we see the great “Rumeli Hisari”, the citadel of the mid-15th century , and the small and old “Anadolu Hisari” of the 14th century stands on the Asiatic side.
In 512 B.C. the Persian King Darius! chose to construct a bridge of boats at this site, where he led an army of 700.000 men against the Scythians. In 1097 the crusaders erossed the strait at this point, and so did the Turks in 1452.
We now sail under the new bridge “Fatih Sultan Mehmet“. The bridge was constructed by a joint venture of Turkish, Japanese and Italian firms, and was dedicated on July 3 rd 1988 after 26 months of labour. The roadway is 64m above sealevel and is 39m wide, taking 8 lines of traffic. This bridge is 1,050m long between the two pylons, and its total length is 1.510m, the pylons themselves are 106m high. It is the sixth biggest bridge of the world and came up to 120 million US dollars.
Baltalimani (the axe harbour) is named after the admiral of Mehmet II. Here the admiral built the galleys, which were dragged over land to the Golden Horn.
Emirgan takes its name from the Persian “Emir Khan”, who lived here in internment after surren-dering to Sultan Murat IV in the 17th century. Citydwellers visit this town to enjoy the famous Turkish tea prepared in samovars in the tea gardens, which are shaded by plane trees. The town also has a park with a tulip garden. Every year at the end of April, a beautiful festival is held here.
Istinye According to a legend, the Argonauts erected a temple here. Later, Constantine the Great built a cloister at the same site. Today, the bay is filled with floating docks used for the main-tenance of large ships. It’s nice to know that they will be transferred soon to the shore of the Marma-ra Sea.
Yenikoy (the new village) is a popular excur-sion town, with beautiful villas and gardens. The long row of old summer embassies starts here. The tastefully furnished “Yali of Sait Halim Pasa” is located next to the Hotel Carlton by the sea. It is from the 19th century, and belonged to one of the last grand viziers of the Ottoman empire.
Tarabya Its name is the modified form of “Therapia”, which means cure. It is located on the bay of the same name. The German summer embassy stands on the southern shore. Sultan Abdulhamit gave this land to Emperor Wilhelm II as a gift. There are many seafood restaurants along the waterfront. The modern Hotel Tarabya is located to the north of the bay, which is full of sailing boats most of the time.
Buyukdere (the big brook), is a popular sum-mer resort. The Bosphorus is 3.3km wide at this point. There are Russian and Spanish summer embassies here. From here, a road leads us in-land to the “Belgrade Forest” 10km away. It is the only forest in European Istanbul. Once there was a village there with the same name. After the con-quest of Belgrade (1521), Suleyman the Magnifi-cent brought the villagers here to maintain the res-ervoirs and aqueducts feeding the cisterns of the city. We have the first view of the Black Sea from this town.
Sariyer: Along the Bosphorus this is the lar-gest village and has a very interesting fish market. Here the Museum of “Sadberk Koc Hanim” is noteworthy. It is an old yellow frame house, where a rich collection of crystal, porcelain and silver-ware is exhibited
Rumeli Kavagi: This fisherman’s village, where you can eat fresh fish at low prices, is locat-ed 2km after Sariyer. This is the last stop of the fer-ry, and the public road ends here, the military road is closed to the public.
Rumeli Feneri(the European lighthouse) is the last village along the European shore of the Bosphorus. At the mouth of the Bosphorus, there are bare, dark and steep islets, which Jason and his Argonauts sailed past on their way to Colchis, in quest of the Golden Fleece. Every time a ship sailed to the Black Sea between the rocks, it risked smashing its hull. The brave Argonauts overcame the passage with Athena’s help.
The Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus Anadolu Feneri (the Asian lighthouse) is the last village along the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus. Anadolu Kavagi is the last ferry stop. It’s a typical fisherman’s village, where a 14th century Genoese palace of Byzantine origin dominates the view.
Hunkar iskelesi, where the sultans once had their summer palaces, gave its name to the treaty signed here in 1833 between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, to keep the warships off the Darda-nelles.
Beykoz is located to the north of the bay of the same name, where in 1854 the Anglo-French fleet rode at anchor before the attack at the Crimea. In the background, the 200m-high Joshua hill (YusaTepesi)dominates the whole area.
Pasabahce (the Pasha’s Garden) is located in the centre of the Bay of Beykoz. on the shore of which we see the ruins of the Persian-style palace of Murat III (16th a). Today it is an industrial area with a glass factory and an alcohol distillery.
Cubuklu is on the southern shore of the same bay. In Byzantine times there was a famous Cloister of the Unsleeping” built by Alexanderthe Great, where the monks prayed day and night. On a hill is the summer residence of the Viceroy of Egypt «Abbas Hilmi Pasa»,Kanlica has been very famous for its yoghurt for centuries. Along the shore there are two yalis (summer houses ) which belonged to “Saffet Pasa” in the 18th century and «Amcazade Huseyin Pasa», a former grand vizier. The second yali, the front part of which rests on piers above the water, was built In 1698 and is the oldest wooden building on the Bosphorus
Anadolu Hisari:(the Castle of Asia) Here the two Fersh Waters of Asia flow into the Bosphorus; “Göksu” (Sky Stream) and “Kucuksu”(Little Stream) are 200m away from each other. The small Turkish castle “Anadolu Hisari” built in 1398 stands at the mouth of “Göksu”. A meadow, on which the “Palace of Kucuksu” of the 19 th century was built (the summer residence of Sultan Abdulmecit I), stretches between the streams. The elaborate fountain of the palace is noteworthy.
Vaniköy takes its name from Sheik Vani, a preacher in Sultan Mehmet ll’s time(15 th c.). Above this village, an observatory and a meteorol-ogy station are located.
Cengelkoy (the Anchor Village) was named after an anchor found by Sultan Mehmet II in this area. The village square with old trees and tradi-tional cafes looks very picturesque. The large and imposing building on the shore is the military train-ing college (Kuleli) from the 19th century.
Beylerbeyi: (Duke) Beylerbeyi Palace of the 19th century, is on the shore next to the pylons of the Bosphorus Bridge. The last sultans accomodated their guests here . Beylerbeyi Mosque originates from the 18th century and was built in the reign of Sultan Abdulhamit I. The pink yah “Villa Bosphorus”, which has a a lovely garden, and is now visited by tourists, is located near the mosque.
By the seashore, we see the largest and most impressive yali of all the old yahs, the “Red Yah” of Mustafa Emin Pasa.
Kuzguncuk is small village with small yalis.
Uskudar is the old Scutari, which we already know. Sailing past the Maiden’s Tower we return to our departure station, and our ferry ride comes to an end.
After the con-quest of the city, the castle lost its importance. It was restored just a few years ago. It is a central structure with a big tower, which is surrounded by an inner wall and an outer circular wall.
Sultan Mehmet II the Conqueror erected this castle in 1452 on the European shore of the Bosphorus at its narrowest point. 10.000 men, 1.000 masons and lime-burners completed the con-struction in four months. It’s known that high offi-cials also helped with the construction.
The purpose was to control the strait so that Byzantine Istanbul could not receive aid from the Genoese trading centres at the Crimea during the siege by the Turks.
A strong wall surrounds the whole fortification, which has 3 big towers and 13 smaller ones. The three big towers were the winter headquarters of the janissaries.
In summer the soldiers lived in tents, set up in the garden of the fortress. Today an open air stage, at the site of which the mosque of the janissaries once stood, is located in the centre of the castle. In front of the entrance gate, cannons that could reach passing ships were placed.
In 1953 the castle was restored, in connection with the celebration of the five hundredth anniver-sary of the Conquest and inaugurated as a museum. During the summertime various theatrical events take place here.
Ciragan Palace is on the European side of the Bosphorus below “Yildiz Park“. It was built by Sultan Abdulaziz in 1863-1867; shortly after his overthrow he died here (1876). Sultan Abdulhamit II imprisoned Sultan Murat in the palace for 27 years.
In 1910 the palace burned out completely. In between the years of 1886-1990 it was restored and today it was converted into a five star hotel under the management of Kempinski group.
Exactly translated into English, the palace is called “the Star Palace” and was built during the second half of the 19 th century by Sultan Abdulhamit, in the old style of the Ottoman residences.
Sultan Abdulhamit II was a despot, and ruled 33 years. Out of fear of an attempted assassination, he had strong walls built around the palace and 14.000 soldiers were stationed there to protect the him. Sultan Abdulhamit II lived in the palace until 1909 :then the Young Turks dethroned him, and he died in Beylerbeyi Palace after returning from exile in Salonica.
The beautiful park of the palace is on the slopes of the Bosphorus behind the burnt-out “Ciragan Palace”. The main building of the palace (which is inaccessible) and many other small pa-vilions scattered in the park, make up the palace complex. Today the renovated pavilions Malta Kosku, Cadir Kosku and the recently built Green and Pink Pavilions, are exclusive cafes which con-vey the Ottoman atmosphere of the 19th century to the visitor. Those who stay longer in Istanbul are advised to plan an excursion to the park.
The biggest pavilion in the area is the “Sale Kosk“, which is only used for state receptions.
This pretty palace built in rococo style is on the asiatic shore of the Bosphorus, where one of the two Fresh Waters of Asia “Kucuksu” (a little stream) flows into the Bosphorus. Sultan Abdulmecit built it as his summer palace in 1856.
The palace consists of two storeys, having a hall in the middle and four tastefully furnished rooms at the corners. The furniture in the palace and the kucuksu Palace and the Bosphorus walls of the building, resemble the other palaces along the Bosphorus.
During summer time Ataturk lived in one of the rooms on the first floor for a short time.
Walking through the northern garden on the seaward side of the palace, we come to the main entrance. The first room we enter is the Entrance Hall with a Bohemian crystal chandelier in the mid-dle. The floors of the palace are covered with straw mats from Egypt, to protect the palace against hu-midity. The staircase leading to the first floor is opposite the entrance. Two big Japanese vases are placed on the last stair, and there is a beautiful Sevres vase on the table in the centre.
We go to the left side and see three adja-cent rooms before us. The room on the left was used as the secretary’s office. The one next to it was the waiting room for visitors. On the par-quet floor stands a mahogany table with a beauti-ful vase that draws our attention. The third room served as the reception room of the Minister of Naval Affairs, where the bronze-gilt arms and legs of the furniture show rope forms. Beautiful paintings by “Seker Ahmet Pasa” hang on the wall, and paintings of ships adorn the ceiling.
After we leave the reception room, we enter the magnificent hall with a marble basin in the centre, where various celebrations took place-. Each corn-er of the basin has a big Chinese vase. Farther to the left we see the Reception Hall of the Sultan. The backs of the chairs are set at right angles, be-cause visitors had to sit upright in the presence of the sultan. The bronze-gilt curtain rod carved f rom a single wood block is very interesting.
Right behind the Reception Hall, the harem of the palace is located. The first thing we see here is the giant closet, where beds for the guests used to be stored. To the left of the closet is the din-ing room of the sultan’s mother, in the centre of which stands a long table for 20 guests. All the chairs upholstered with antelope skin were carved by Sultan Abdulhamit II, carving was his hobby. His signature is inlaid in ivory on the backs of the chairs. Four buffets and historical paintings adorn this room.
We turn right and see the large Entrance Chamber of the Harem in front of us.The main en-trance to the harem is on the left, and on the right the staircase leads to the first floor. We pass the stairs and come to the bedroom of the first wife of Abdulhamit II. The adjacent room is the bed-room of Abdulhamit II, where he spent his last ye-ars after he came back from exile at Salon ica, and died after 33 years on the throne. To avoid the splendour of the buildings he must have purposely chosen this room overlooking the garden. We re-turn to the Entrance Chamber of the Harem, walk up the stairs and come to the beautiful Meeting Hall of Women, which is also called the Hall of Mother-of-Pearl because of the rich mother-of-pearl inlays of the furniture. A big table, with a vase of “Yildiz porcelain” stands in the centre of the hall. On both sides of the table in front of the wall, we see two magnificent cabinets inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
To the left we see an attractive Italian cabinet, and to the right is the cabinet in which Sultan Abdulaziz kept his hunting guns. Both sides of the staircase are decorated with jewellery cabinets containing several drawers, which could be open-ed by hidden knobs.
We continue our walk on the right side. To our right is the bathroom. Opposite the bathroom, is the bedroom for foreign guests. The adjacent room, the furniture of which was brought from Yildiz Palace was the study of Sultan Abdiilhamit II. To the right two bookcases are placed, and between them is a bureau.
We trace our steps back through the Hall of Mother-of-Pearl, and come to the seaward side, where three neighbouring rooms are located. The first one to the right was the harem bath. The painting “Horse Carriage” done by Prince Ed-ward hangs in the second room, which was used by the sultans mother as her recepcion room. Af-ter visiting this room, we leave the harem and en-ter the Blue Hall, which was built in German ba-roque style and is surrounded by big arcades. In the center of the hall is a 60 kg clock (gift of the Russian Czar Nicholas II) on the enamel table, over which hangs a big crystal chandelier of Istanbul. The other four crystal chandeliers are of Bohemian origin. The pure Hereke silk carpet covers 150sq.m. in the centre of the hall. Both glass cases at the western wall contain the first products of the “Yildiz Porcelain Factory”, among which are the water pitcher, and the Turkish coffee cup of Ataturk.
One room is located at each of the corners of the Blue Hall:
The first room on the seaward side was the sultan’s study. It has a beautiful ceiling and the vases in the room are Japanese. The second room, one of the most beautiful rooms in the palace, was the reception room of Sultan Abdula-ziz (he weighed 150 kg), whose big bronze-gilt chair of state is displayed here. The third room in the rear was Eugenie’s bedroom, with the bath and rest room. The fourth room was the wedding room.
Upon leaving the Blue Hall, we enter the con-ference room of Sultan Abduzaliz. The beauty of this room is beyond imagination. The walls and floor are covered with panels of walnut. The four carved niches in the wall draw our attention.
Next to it, is the sultan’s prayer room. Then we turn right and see the Hall of Mother-of Pearl (the Meeting Hall), the furniture of which is decorated with mother-of-pearl. We walk through this wonderful hall and enter the lounge, used by the sultan to rest after meals. This room and the dining room, are decorated with panels of walnut. At the long table we see 25 chairs also upholstered by Sultan Abdulhamit II in antelope skin.
We walk down the stairs and leave the palace through the Entrance Hall…