Also known as the Istanbul Strait, the Bosphorus forms one part of the boundary between Europe and Asia and is recognized worldwide as a symbol of Istanbul. Forming the only direct passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosphorus has long been of great commercial and strategic significance.
Board a Bosphorus cruise at the Spice Bazaar, the second-oldest covered bazaar in the city teeming with richly aromatic spices and traditional shops selling everything from flowers and fish to fruits and vegetables. Soon the Rüstem Paşa Mosque will come into view, built by famous architect, Mimar Sinan, in 1560 and decorated with beautiful Iznik tiles both inside and out. Next The Dolmabahçe Palace will appear a bit further along, Istanbul’s oldest European-style palace first built between 1843 and 1846 and celebrated for its great collection of European antiquities, furniture, and a stunning chandelier weighing 4.5 tons. Continue on to Ortaköy, a cosmopolitan, beachfront region in the middle of the Bosphorus with diverse communities of Turks, Greeks, Jews, and Armenians. Tour the local bazaar to take in the various shops, stands, and coffee bars, perhaps enjoying a cup of Turkish tea in a local seaside tea garden. As the cruise continues, stop to admire all the ancient wooden villas, Victorian houses, Ottoman-era waterfront mansions, and the Rumelihisarı (Rumeli Fortress), an imposing structure built in the mid-fifteenth century by Sultan Mehmed II at the narrowest point on the Bosphorus to control sea traffic on the strait.