The lower Bosphorus is the first leg of the Scenic Bosphorus Tour. In this article well cover the highlights you can see on the shores of the lower part of the Bosphorus strait after boarding the IDO ferry at the docks of Eminönü. Be on the lookout for landmarks such as the Leander’s Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, Çirağan Palace, Ortaköy, various mansions and of course the first Bosphorus Bridge. Look for their respective place marks () on the Bosphorus map at the end of the article.
- Look Back! – A few minutes after the ferry leaves the docks of Eminönü, look back and enjoy Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque all together in one view.
- Leander’s Tower (Kız Kulesi) – Look for the white tower standing proud on the small island in the middle of the Bosphorus, close to the shore of Üsküdar. For centuries it used to be a lighthouse, but today it houses a popular (and pricy) café and restaurant.
- Dolmabahçe Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayı) – This is Turkey’s largest mono-block palace and Istanbul’s first European-style palace, extravagant because of its size and ornaments. This was the house of the last six Ottoman sultans and also where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk carried out some of his most important reforms and died in 1938.
- Iskele Mosque (İskele Camii) – This mosque was built by Mimar Sinan in 1548 and is a landmark of Üsküdar. İskele is Turkish for pier or dock, so the obvious name for a mosque sitting next to the Üsküdar ferry landing.
- Mimar Sinan University (Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi) – A Turkish state university teaching fine arts.
- Naval Museum (Deniz Müzesi) – If you’re into boats, this is a museum to add to your to-see-list. It houses a massive collection of Ottoman caiques as well as model ships, along with an extensive collection of maritime items. Top of the bill are booty captured from British and French warships sunk during World War I, the battle flag of the pirate Barbarossa and memorabilia from the Savarona, Atatürk’s yacht.
- Beşiktaş Dock (Beşiktaş İskelesi) – This is the only dock in the lower Bosphorus where the ferry stop to let people on and off. Do stay seated!
- Çırağan Palace (Çırağan Sarayı) – The Çırağan Palace (1867) was commissioned by Sultan Abdülaziz and is the last of the Ottoman imperial palaces. A big fire destroyed the interior of the palace in 1910. In 1989 the Kempinski chain restored the building and made a luxurious 5-star hotel of it.
- Fethi Ahmet Paşa Mansion (Fethi Ahmet Paşa Yalı) – This mansion or yalı, also known as the pembe yalı (pink mansion) because of its exterior color, was built in the late 18th century.
- Ortaköy – This is one of Istanbul’s most relaxing towns, not in the least for the narrow car-free cobblestone streets and waterfront square, filled with restaurants, cafes and bars. A great way to escape to the busy city life, except on weekends when there is a popular (crowded) craft market.
- Mecidiye Mosque (Mecidiye Camii) – This mosque serves not only as a landmark of Ortaköy, it is also one of the most prominent and elegant Bosphorus spots. The original mosque was built in the 18th century, but the current version dates back to 1856 and was ordered by Sultan Abdülmecid.
- The Bosphorus Bridge (Boğaziçi Köprüsü) – Built in 1973, this was the first bridge over the Bosphorus and is often referred to by locals as such. It is 1,5 km long and the deck is 39 meters wide. The clearance of the bridge from sea level is 64 meters. Since April 2007, a fully computerized LED lighting system of changing colors and patterns illuminates the bridge at night.
- Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayı) – This summer residence was ordered by Sultan Abdülaziz in 1861. Pay special attention to the two extraordinary marble bathing pavilions at both ends on the shore: one for men and the other for the harem women.
- Sadullah Paşa Mansion (Sadullah Paşa Yalısı) – Another example of the mansions built by the Ottoman aristocracy. This one dates back to 1783 and is painted red-brown.
- Galatasaray Island (Galatasaray Adası) – This small island, just in front of the Kuruçeşme shore and also reffered to as Buz Ada, was acquired by the sports club in 1957. With its swimming pool, is was home to the Galatasaray water polo team until 1968. Today it is known for its receation and entertainment facilities including a pool and several bars and restaurants, all offering a magnificent view.
- Kuleli Military School (Kuleli Askeri Lisesi) – The first military high school of Turkey, founded in September 21, 1845.
- Arnavutköy – Translated from Turkish, Arnavutköy means ‘Albanian Village’. This is misleading because the current population is predominantly Turkish, and during the Ottoman Empire its inhabitants were Greek and Armenian. Just enjoy the abundance of mansions on the shore.
View Highlights on the Lower Bosphorus in a larger map
[Photo Credit: Randomil]