The Golden Horn And The Bosphorous

A unique geography has not only provided İstanbul with certain unparalled and superior advantages, but has also bestowed upon İstanbul an amazing natural beauty. A city with a river flowing through it is a beautiful city. But which city has a sea dividing two continents running through it? Which city has a natural port like the Golden Horn?

Haliç (The Golden Horn), is an Arabic word that means "bay" or "gulf" but it is also the name given to İstanbul's most special place. After the Ottomans conquered İstanbul, they called it Haliç-i Konstantiniye (Haliç or bay of Constantinople) and Haliç-i Dersaadet (Bay of the Gates of Felicity).In many languages it is called the Golden Horn. This name is based on a variety of myths. According to ancient mythology, lo, the daughter of King Inahos, gave birth to Zeus's child on the hill between. The streams of Alibeyköy and Kağıhane. The baby girl was named Keroessa. In time the name was shortened to Keros, meaning 'horn'. According to Strabon, the Golden Horn was so named because it actually looks like one. The horn in mythology immediately brings to mind its role as a symbol of fertility. The waterway, rich in fish and surrounded by productive land, might have had the 'gold' added to its name because of these local attributes. Some people say the Golden Horn earned the epithet 'golden' because of its beautiful sunsets and the glittering of the sea just before sunset. Hence we have Hrisokeras (Golden Horn).During the Eastern Roman era only the name Keras (Horn) was used.

The Golden Horn is an indentation approximately eight kilometers long .Its width is 1.100 meters at the mouth, 700 meters between Kasımpaşa - Cibali. Its depth under the Galata Bridge is 60 meters and is 40 meters under the Unkapanı Bridge. On it are the bridges of Galata, Ataturk (at Unkapanı), the old Galata Bridge and Fatih.

During excavations conducted around the Golden Horn, ruins dating back to 4 B.C were found in the districts of Silahtaraga, Alibeyköy and Küçükköy. According to some specialists, there are Neolithic sites to be found in the area as well.

The Golden Horn was an area devoted to pleasure boating and picnics in both the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Right after conquering İstanbul, Mehmet II forbade the cutting of the trees, farming or the pasturing of livestock on the hills around the Horn and he had couch grass planted in order to prevent landslides. At the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, industrial compounds were established in the region of the Golden Horn and the wastes from these compounds seriously polluted the waterway. Recently the factories have been moved elsewhere and the Golden Horn cleaned up to give it a new lease on life.

The Bosphorus makes İstanbul 'exceptional'. It is an ancient river valley which was submerged in the 4th era. It is approximately 30 kilometers long if measured from its central channel. Its Asian side, between Anadolufeneri (Anatolian Lighthouse) and Salacak is 35 kilometers long; its European side, between Rumelifeneri (Rumelia Lighthouse) and Sarayburnu (Saray Point) is 55 kilometers long. The narrowest spot on the Bosphorus is between Rumelihisari (Rumelia Fortress) and Anadoluhisari (Anatolian Fortress) and this point is 760 meters in length. Its width reaches 3500 meters around the Buyukdere district. There's an upper current flowing from the Black Sea to the Marmora, and a mid­depth current flowing from the Marmora to the Black Sea. Two bridges, The Bosphorus Bridge (1704 meters) and the Fatih Bridge (1090 meters) connect Asia and Europe by road.

The İstanbul strait is called Boğaz or Boğazici in Turkish; "Boğaz" meaning throat. In western languages this waterway is known as the Bosphorus (The Cow Crossing).The 'cow's ford' epithet is also connected to the Zeus - lo legend. Zeus love with the beautiful lo, the daughter of King Inahos of Argos. When Hera finds out, she is consumed with jealousy. In order to escape Hera's fury, Zeus turns lo into a white cow. But Hera finds lo the cow and orders the thousand eyed giant Argos, to guard the cow. Zeus sends his messenger Hermes to kill the giant. This time Hera sends a horsefly to torment lo. The cow, trying to rid herself of the insect, crosses from Europe to Asia by plunging into the straits. Hence the name Bosporos ( bos = cow,poros = passage ).

Historical records and research into place-names suggest that settlements were rare around the Bosphorus during the Byzantine era. Settlements began to grow around the 17th century with the building of wooden buildings, kiosks and seaside mansions  (yali). Hence a 'Bosphorus culture' began to emerge on the Bosphorus.

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