The Bosporus River is the winding water way that divides Turkey into two. Most tourists stay on the European side and take short day trips across to Uskudar or Kadikoy, which is located on the Asian side. It’s vice-versa with Istanbulites. Many of them live on the Asian side and commute via ferry to the European side.
I boarded a ship at Eminonu district for a Bosporus Cruise, making alternate stops along the European and Asian side of the river. The length of the cruise varies depending on the time you spend exploring each port.
I had an amazing view of the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and The Blue Mosque as I left the dock at Eminonu. Grand villas and marble palaces dotted both sides of the river, adding a modern twist to the stone fortress and small fishing villages nearby.
I cruised by the Dolmabahce Mosque and Dolmabahce Palace. It was the new home of the sultan and his royal family when they moved out of the Topkapi Palace in an effort to become more westernized.
Past the Bosporus Bridge was the Rumeli Hisari, also known as the Fortress of Europe. It was completed in four and a half months and built to control the passage of ships going up and down the Bosporus. The Rumeli Hisari became a checkpoint and was also used to hold war prisoners. Today, the fortress is a museum and contains an open-air theater for summer concerts and festivals.
I got off at the Anadolu Kavagı port to see the Yoros Castle. At the top of the castle was a panoramic view of where the Bosporus River meets the Black Sea. Before the Byzantine period, the castle was used by the Greeks and Phoenicians for trade and military purposes.
There was a massive chain that extended across the width of the Bosporus River from the Yoros Castle to the Rumeli Kavagı, located on the opposite side of the river. The chain was used to prevent attacking warships from entering the strait and into the city. What’s left of the Yoros Castle now are the ruins and the castle’s surrounding walls. The mosque and towers have disappeared.