In the past, the Bosphorus was also called the “Strait of Constantinople”. The strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. As the Bosphorus gives the countries bordering the Black Sea, such as Russia, Romania and Bulgaria, access to the Mediterranean, it is considered an important waterway. More than 5,000 oil tankers pass through the Bosphorus every year. For the captains, crossing the waterway means a real challenge, because in addition to a high volume of tankers, numerous ferries also cross the route. Since the Treaty of Monteux in 1936, ships of all nations have been allowed to sail through the strait.
Violent currents and winds
The strait is 32 kilometres long and up to two and a half kilometres wide. The Bosphorus is often subject to violent currents and eddies. Particularly salty water flows into the Mediterranean from the Black Sea, creating a very strong upper current, while a weak lower current moves in the opposite direction at a depth of around 40 metres. In addition, there are very strong winds that often increase the current speeds even more.
The name Bosporus means cow or cattle ford and according to legend, the cow Io crossed the Bosporus on her escape. The Bosporus is also mentioned in ancient sagas. For example, the Greek hero Jason and his Argonauts had to pass two mythological rocky islands at the mouth of the Bosphorus in search of the Golden Fleece.
Location at the Bosporus
Istanbul is characterized by its location on the Bosphorus. Two bridges across the strait connect the European and Asian parts of the city. In 1973, the first suspension bridge spanning the Bosphorus was opened.
At the end of the Bosphorus lies the Golden Horn, Istanbul’s harbour bay. More than seven kilometers long, the bay was the city’s most important port during the Byzantine rule and was secured by a large chain. On the peninsula at the Golden Horn stood the magnificent imperial palace. This was intended to show off the immense wealth to arriving sailors.
The Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara can be ideally explored by the numerous ferry boats. A special tourist ship is not absolutely necessary. Even with the regular ferries you can reach many corners well and cheaply.