Many nations have dreamed of conquering Istanbul and annexing the Bosphorus. It has been the ambition of the rulers of Russia and Greece. However Turks not only fought for its independence but also created a civilisation of the Bosphorus. In the time of the Eastern Roman Empire the shores of the Bosphorus were deserted except for a few shrines erected for the safety of their sailors and a few monasteries, With the conquest of Istanbul both the European and the Asiatic shores became adorned with mosques, palaces, seaside mansions, villas, kiosques, baths, fountains and with woods and gardens - all built by Turks.
The most grandiose and gorgeous palace on the Bosphorus is, without any doubt, the Dolmabahce Palace.
It stands on the European shore of the Bosphorus and the with its various dependencies forms almost a little town, its gardens extending for a mile or more along the water's edge. Though the extrior of the Dolmabahce Palace, built by Sultan Abdiilmecit (1839-1861) exhibits a variety of architectural styles, mainly baroque, and is decorated with a profusion of ornament, the general effect is not unpleasing, and the site is remarkably well-chosen. The heart of the building is the throne room, now occasionally used for receptions or balls, with tremendous
chandeliers and a musician's gallery. Its interior, like that of other palaces, glitters whith gilded decorations, costly chandeliers and mirrors, priceless porcelains and gorgeous brocades of gold and silver tissue. The vast gardens were originally laid out by European landscape architects and comprise parterres and fountains. Built by architect Balyan Usta in 1853, the palace has a 600 metres long marble pier and landing stages that run splendidly along the Bosphorus, whilst access from the land is through beautiful tall Baroque gates.
Miss Emmeline Lott, as the governess of the son of the Khedive of Egypt, visited the Palace and wrote her impressions in her book, entitled
"The Sultan's Palace, the new one or Palace of the Bosphorus, as it is called par excellence, is an immense pile of buildings the marble steps by which it is entered bathing in the sapphire and rapid flowing Bosphorus ... Its windows, balconies, pilasters, festooned frames, sculpture and arabesque work, remind one of the beautiful Palazzo Doria of Venice ... The hybrid composite front is rich and elegant in appearance ... A noble terrace runs along the whole extent, bordered on the side toward the Bosphorus with a line of columns, linked to each other by an elegant rich wrought-iron balustrade railing, in which the iron curves and twines in a thousand arabesques and flowers, like the figures which a bold penman traces with free hand upon the paper ... The whole of the ceilings are painted in fresco, and from them hung suspended magnificent gilt chandeliers: the floors are covered with rich carpets, the walls decorated with beautiful mirrors, the tables in the rooms are all inlaid with mosaics ... Looking out of those immense windows we beheld the Asiatic coast looming from amidst a mass of superb dark cypresses; then Scutari (Uskudar) comes forth with all its pretty objects; the rapid azure waters of the Bosphorus flowing swiftly on, bearing on its sapphire-looking bosom vessels of all denominations, from a caique to. a steamer, above which, poised up in the balmy air, are seen flights of albatrosses, gulls, mews, etc. Then, as we stretch forward a fine view of both shores is obtained, lined whith pretty country-seats, kiosques of almost all the hues of the rainbow. Over those terraces of fairy palatial structures the most singular rays are cast,.both by the sun in the day, and the lovely moon at night, which lend enchantment to the view."
The founder of the Turkish Republic Kemal Ataturk passed away here, on November 10, 1938 at 9.05am in a simple bedroom which has been kept exactly as it was when he died; and all the now silent clocks of the palace perpertuate the moment of his untimely end.
Yildiz Palace is a group of kiosques built by Sultan Abdulaziz (1861-1876) and extended by Sultan Abdtilhamit (1876-1909) who also had a mosque erected among the kiosques, named Hamidiye Mosque. The palace became his home - and hiding place, for he dreaded being murdered. The great Yildiz Park around the kiosques comprises wooded hills, grassy vales and fruitful orchards, fountains and waterfalls together with aviaries of birds, menageries of wild beasts and lakes teeming with gold and silver fish where one can row a small caique. Two of the kiosques are being used as restaurants; the Sale Kiosque houses an exhibition of ninetenth century memorabilia. Y ildiz Kiosque has served as a residence for visiting heads of state. The Malta Pavilion, restored by the Touring and Automobile Association of Turkey, is a pleasant cafe, its upper floor reserved for
conferences, concerts and cocktails.
Situated on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus between the villages of Kuzguncuk and Cengelkoy, the palace was built by Sultan Abdulaziz in 1865. Beylerbeyi Palace seen from the Bosphorus floats like a white vision in a fairy tale. It is the most extravagant royal house of the 19th Century on which millions were spent. It is built completely of marble, surpassing all the Palaces of European Kings. Empress Eugenie, during her visit of 1869 stayed in this palace as well as Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Edward VIII was a guest in 1936. Stone lionesses recline on marble carpets set in lawns, and swans float and fish swim ii the unobtrusive pool where pigeons fly to catch the spray of the fountain upon their wings. Miss Pardoe, on her visit to the Palace, was so impressed with it! Imperial Bath, that she wrote:
"One of the most elegant and costly in the city and is well worthy of description Passing a crimson door, surmounted by a crescent shaped cornice of rich gilding, the visitor enters a small hall, in which stands a basin of fine white marble, occupied by two swans, wrought in the same material, and appearing tc sport in the limpid water; which, escaping from this charming fountain, falls through concealed pipes into the basins destined to supply the bathers. The cooling-room, opening from this dim apartment, where the light only penetrates after struggling through stars and crescents of painted glass, inlaid in the marble roof like clusters of jewels, is hung with draperies of silk, richly embroidered: and the large mirror which occupies the wall at the lower end of the divan, is se1 in a framework of gold and enamel, surmounted by the Ottoman arms, skilfully executed; while the divan itself, formed of grey-coloured satin, is wrought in silks until it resembles a flower-bed; and the cushions which are scattered over it are of the same beautiful and costly description. The bath is a vast hall, of the most elegant proportions, lined and roofed, and paved with marble. It is surmounted by exquisitely imagined fountains; and gives back a long and subdued echo at every footfall which disturbs its deep and dreamy silence."
Sultan Abdiilhamid, known to the Western World as the Red Sultan, spent his last days here, in the Beylerbeyi Palace, on his return from exile in Salonica.
The summer Palace of Kucuksu, sometimes called the Palace of Goksu, is situated between the villages of Anadoluhisan and Kandilli on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus. The Kucuksu Palace was first built by Mahmut I in 1749. Later it underwent a restoration during the reigns of Selim III and Ahmet II.It was renovated by Sultan Abdiilmecit in 1857.Sultan Abdulaziz gave the palace a new face-lift and had it refurbished and redecorated. It is a small but elegant edifice, stretching along the lip of the Bosphorus, surrounded by intricately cast iron railings. Waters and waves of the Bosphorus wash its terraces of glittering marble and sometimes penetrate their latticed and mysterious recesses. The palace overlooks one of Istanbul's bathing beaches. Just behind the palace is a graceful, elegant fountain built by Selim III, which st ands in the midst of a double avenu of trees fringing the border of the Bosphorus. It is built of delicate white marble Extremely elegant in design, and elaborately ornamented whith arabesques.
HIDIV KASRI The Khedive's Palace
Situated between the villages of Kanhca and Cubuklu, half way up the teep
slope, among tall trees, on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus, there nestles the picturesque marble Art Nouveau.residence of Abbas Hilmi Pasa, the last Khedive of Egypt. In a lovely setting with a marvellous view over the Bosphorus, it was built in 1906 and occupied by the family until 1937 when it was taken over by the Municipality of Istanbul. The Turkish Touring and Automobile Association restored the palace in 1984, converting it into a restaurant and patisserie with a few hotel rooms. The north lodge of the palace, resembling a miniature European chateau has also been restored and soft drinks and beer are served in its beautifully laid terraces.
ASIYAN, Museum of New Literature
Situated to the south of the Rumelihisan Fortress and just below the Bogazici University grounds, which were once the Robert College, there stands the house built by the great Turkish poet Tevfik Fikret in 1906. This romantic half-timbered structure was designed by the poet himself and its glorious garden were created jointly with his wife, Nazima Hamm. Tevfik Fikret taught Turkish Language and Literature at Robert College until his death in 1915 at the age of 48. A§iyan now houses the Museum of Literature, where manuscripts and personal belongings of famous Turkish poets and novelits are displayed. There are also paintings, some by Tevfik Fikret who was also a painter in his own right, and one by the last Caliph of the Ottoman Dynastry, Abdiilmecit Han named 'Sis' - Mist which depicted the Bosphorus under the cover of a mist and showed the sun coming through, only seen from one particular angle of vision.
SADBERK KOÇ; (Sadberk Hamim) Museum
Situated on the Piyasa Caddesi linking Buyukdere with Sanyer , the old yali belonging to an Armenian merchant was bought by the Koç family and transformed into a museum. It houses not only costumes, silver and jewellery but also glass, porcelain, crystal and tiles.
RUMELIHISARI FORTRESS - (Rumelihisarr Castle)
At the narrowest point of the Bosphorus stands the Rumelihisan Fortress, built by Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror on the European shore. The Sultan himself on the 26th day of March 1452 laid the foundation stone of the Fortress with a view to controlling the passage of the ships through the Bosphorus and using it as a base for his attack on the city. The fortress or castle was built upon the ancient site of Hermaion. It was completed in five months on August 28th l452. The cannon on the towers could command this narrowest part of the Bosphorus opposite the older fortress of Anadoluhisan. Darius in 500 BC had thrown a pontoon bridge across the Strait at this point and passed over 700,000 'men. To Sultan Mehmet, the Conqueror, it was the key to Constantinople. The design of the walls and the towers display the Prophet's and the Conqueror's name Muhammet - Mehmet.
After the conquest of Istanbul, it was renamed as Bogazkesen Fortress. It served as dungeon as well after 1477 and later was used as a customs post when houses and a small mosque were constructed within the fortress walls. However. during the Republican Era, the houses were expropriated and an open-air theatre was built. Shakespeare is often acted in summer, particularly Hamlet which with the backdrop of the fortress, seems very impressive.
ANADOLUHISARI FORTRESS (Anadoluhlsart Castle)
On the opposite bank stands the Anadoluhisan Fortress by the Goksu stream. This romantic castle which adorns the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus was built in1395 by Sultan Bayazit, the Thunderbolt and named as "Giizelcehisar". Later it was extended by Mehmet, the Conqueror. Today, as the first possession of Turks on the Bosphorus, it serves as the landmark of Turkish rule.
KIZKULESI (Maiden's Tower - Leander's Tower)
About 180 metres away from the shores of Dskudar stands this tower which bears two different names. Europeans who named it the Leander's Tower thought that it was here where Leander was drowned while attempting to swim the Bosphorus to reach his beloved Hero, the priestess of Aphrodite. But, in fact, Leander never crossed here even in the legend which refers to the Hellespont, Dardanelles. The Turkish name is K1z kulesi (Maiden's Tower). It is now a modem lighthouse. In the past, it served as a fort to tax ships up to one tenth of their cargo, similar to Pfalz Castle on the Rhine.
The story of the Maiden's Tower, which has never been verified goes like this. Constantine built the tower here to protect his daughter, since a magician had foretold she would be bitten by a snake. She was imprisoned and grew to womanhood there, until an officer of the Imperial Palace, fell in love with her beauty and sent her a basket of peaches and figs. The snake which had hidden under a fig leaf bit the Princess, who was at the point of death when the Officer arrived and sucked the poison from her arm. The tower was rebuilt during Ahmet Ill's reign. From 1839 it served as a quarantine house till the end of the Crimean War.
THE BOSPHORUS BRIDGES
Which was inaugurated on October 29, 1973 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Turkish Republic, has the longest span in Europe and the fourth in the world. This suspension bridge has a total length of 1560 metres.( 1706 yards) and a width of 33.4 metres (1 lOft). The span between pylons is 1074 metres q 175 yards) and the clearance above sea level is 64 metres (210ft). The constrnction of the steel box-girder suspension was carried out by a British-german consortium. The second bridge to link Europe and Asia over the Bosphorus will be completed in 1989 between Emirgan and Kanhca.
Situated between Besiktas and Ortakoy on the European shore of the Bosphorus stands the ruins of the Ciragan Palace, built by Sultan Abdulaziz, during the years 1863-1867. It resembles the Dolmabahce Palace with its long facadeand its baroque architectural style. Abdulaziz is believed to have committed suicide in this palace in 1876. His successor Murat V, who was his nephew, suffered a severe nervous breakdown and after a period of three months was deposed by his younger brother, Sultan Abdiilhamid. Murat was held prisoner in the Palace.
The palace waspresented to the nation (or the purpose of a House of Parliament by Sultan Mehmet Resat V, on his accession in 1909. However, a short-circuit in the electrical wiring caused the complete destruction of the palace in 1910. It has regain ruins since then, until the Municipality of Greater Istanbul, succeeded in having a modern hotel built in this setting of great scenic beauty.
ISTANBUL DENIZ MUZESI Istanbul Maritime Museum
Situated at Besiktas, close to Admiral Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa's mausoleum. The first museum of its kind, it was inaugurated at Kasimpasa in 1897 and was called the Imperial Maritime Museum; it had to be moved to Anatolia during the First World War years. This present museum was opened to public in 1961. It houses a collection of model ships, uniforms of old naval officers, paintings and pictures of Turkish naval history, old ships as well as the barges of the Sultans from as long ago as the 16th century: long slim craft propellled by fifty oarsmen, with high pointed prows and gilt pagodas in their stems. There is a Crimean War Hall where a sailing battleship and arms and ammunition of the period are displayed. The Museum also houses small boats of all periods, all sorts of arms, revolvers, guns, hand grenades, mines, torpedoes, plans and models of floating docks, together with memorabilia belonging to lost battleships and submarines. Ataturk's cabin in the yacht, Ertugrul, is also on display in an adjoining room. Beside wax figures of famous Turkish seamen, a map of America by the Turkish Admiral and cartographer Piri Reis, drawn in 1513, is amonng the exhibits.