Some of Istanbul's finest vistas are to be seen from the Bosphorus. If you have time it is well worth spending at least half a day viewing the sights and savouring the atmosphere. You can take a guided tour on a small boat, or Turkish Maritime Lines (TDI) runs a good value public ferry service which leaves two or three times a day and does the full round trip as far as Anadolu Kavagi, the nearest village to the Black Sea on the Asian side, and back to Eminönü. It is a charming place, known for its fish restaurants, and the walk up to the ruined fortress overlooking the village, is well worth it for the stunning views. As you leave from Eminönü you can benefit from some beautiful views back towards the old town with its evocative skyline of turreted roofs and minarets. As you head towards the Black Sea you will pass the Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and the 15th century fortresses built by Mehmet II, Rumeli Hisari and Anadolu Hisari. Also look out for the stunning wooden Ottoman mansions, many of which have been renovated and form some of the city's most desirable residences. Even if you don't have time for a Bosphorus trip just take one of the distinctive city ferries for a quick trip from Eminönü to the Asian shores and back to Üsküdar for example, just to admire the views of the old town.
The Bosphorus or Bosporus (, Bosporos, , ???????), also known as the Istanbul Strait (), is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles. The world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, it connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea). It is approximately long, with a maximum width of at the northern entrance, and a minimum width of between Kandilli and Asiyan; and between Anadoluhisari and Rumelihisari. The depth varies from in midstream. The shores of the strait are heavily populated as the city of Istanbul (with a metropolitan area in excess of 11 million inhabitants) straddles it.
The name comes from Greek Bosporos (??sp????),Entry: at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, A Greek-English Lexicon. which the ancient Greeks analysed as bous 'ox' + poros 'means of passing a river, ford, ferry', thus meaning 'ox-ford'. Although it has been known for a while that the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara does flow into each other in an example of a density flow, findings of a study by the University of Leeds in August 2010, reveals that there is infact an underwater(submarine) river flowing through the Mediterranean and under the Bosphorus caused by the difference in density of the two seas, which would have been the 6th largest river on Earth if it were to be on land. So, whether the Greeks merely misanalyzed the Bosphorus or knew better than what we give them credit for is an interesting source of discussion.
It has also been thought to be a Thracian form of Phôsphoros (F?sf????), "light-bearing", an epithet of the goddess Hecate. Formation
thumb|A map depicting the location of the Bosporus (red) relative to the [[Dardanelles (yellow) and the Sea of Marmara.]]
The exact cause for the formation of the Bosphorus remains the subject of vigorous debate among geologists. Thousands of years ago, the Black Sea became disconnected from the Aegean Sea. The Black Sea deluge theory (published in 1997 by William Ryan and Walter Pitman from Columbia University) contends that the Bosphorus was formed about 5600 BC when the rising waters of the Mediterranean/Sea of Marmara breached through to the Black Sea, which at the time (according to the theory) was a low-lying body of fresh water.
Some have argued that the resulting massive flooding of the inhabited and probably farmed northern shores of the Black Sea is thought to be the historic basis for the flood stories found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and in the Bible in Book of Genesis, Chapters 6-9. On the other hand, there is also evidence for a flood of water going in the opposite direction, from the Black Sea into the Sea of Marmara around 7000 or 8000 BC.
It is also said in myth that floating rocks known as the Symplegades or Clashing Rocks once crushed any ship that attempted passage of the Bosporus until the hero Jason obtained passage, whereupon the rocks became fixed, and Greek access to the Black Sea was opened.
St. Jerome's Vulgate translates the Hebrew besepharad in Obadiah, 1-20 as "Bosforus", but other translations give it as "Sepharad" (probably Sardis, but later identified with Spain).
Ancient Greece, Rome, the Byzantines and the Ottoman Empire
thumb|The Bosphorus with the Castles of Europe and Asia. 19th century engraving by [[Thomas Allom. The castles are Rumelihisari and Anadoluhisari, respectively.]]
As the only passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosporus has always been of great commercial and strategic importance. The Greek city-state of Athens in the 5th century BC, which was dependent on grain imports from Scythia, therefore maintained critical alliances with cities which controlled the straits, such as the Megarian colony Byzantium.
The strategic significance of the strait was one of the factors in the decision of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great to found there in 330 AD his new capital, Constantinople, which came to be known as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. On 29 May 1453 it was conquered by the emerging Ottoman Empire. In fact, as the Ottoman Turks closed in on Istanbul, they constructed a fortification on each side of the strait, Anadoluhisari (1393) and Rumelihisari (1451). Strategic importance
The strategic importance of the Bosporus remains high, and control over it has been an objective of a number of hostilities in modern history, notably the Russo–Turkish War, 1877–1878, as well as of the attack of the Allied Powers on the Dardanelles during the 1915 battle of Gallipoli in the course of World War I.
At its peak in the 16th through the 18th centuries, the Ottoman Empire had wrested control of the entire Black Sea area, which was for the time an "Ottoman lake", on which Russian warships were prohibited.
Subsequently, several international treaties have governed vessels using the waters. Under the Treaty of Hünkar Iskelesi of 1833, the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits were to be closed on Russian demand to naval vessels of other powers. Following World War I, the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres demilitarized the strait and made it an international territory under the control of the League of Nations. This was amended under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which restored the straits to Turkish territorybut allowed all foreign warships and commercial shipping to traverse the straits freely. Turkey eventually rejected the terms of that treaty, and subsequently Turkey remilitarized the straits area. The reversion to this old regime was formalized under the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Turkish Straits of July 1936. That convention, which is still in practical force as of 2008, treats the straits as an international shipping lane, but Turkey does retain the right to restrict the naval traffic of non-Black Sea nations (such as Greece, a traditional enemy, or Algeria).
During World War II, through February 1945, when Turkey was neutral for most of the length of the conflict, the Dardanelles were closed to the ships of the belligerent nations. In the conferences during World War II, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin openly requested the concession of Soviet military bases on the Straits, even though Turkey was not involved in the war. This incident, coupled with Stalin's demands for the restitution of the Turkish provinces of Kars, Artvin and Ardahan to the Soviet Union (which were lost by Turkey with the Russo–Turkish War of 1877–1878, but were regained with the Treaty of Kars in 1921) was one of the main reasons why Turkey decided to give up its general principle of neutrality in foreign affairs. Turkey did declare war against Germany in February 1945, but did not engage in offensive actions.
In more recent years, the Turkish Straits have become particularly important for the oil industry. Russian oil, from ports such as Novorossyisk, is exported by tankers to western Europe and the U.S. via the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles straits. Crossings
thumb|Bosphorus Bridge.thumb|View of the Bosphorus and [[Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge as seen from Rumelihisari.]]
The waters of the strait are traversed by numerous ferries. Two bridges cross the Bosphorus. The first, the Bosphorus Bridge, is long and was completed in 1973. The second, Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Bosphorus II) Bridge, is long, and was completed in 1988 about north of the first bridge. It forms part of the Trans-European Motorway. Plans for a third bridge, which will allow transit traffic to by-pass the city traffic, have been approved by the Ministry of Transportation. The bridge will be built near the northern end of the Bosphorus, between the villages of Garipçe on the European side and Poyrazköy on the Asian side. It will be part of the "Northern Marmara Motorway", which will be further integrated with the existing Black Sea Coastal Highway.
Another crossing, Marmaray, is a long undersea railway tunnel currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2012. Approximately of the tunnel will run under the strait, at a depth of about .
In 2010 a team of scientists led by the University of Leeds has used a robotic ‘yellow submarine’ to observe detailed flows within an ‘undersea river’ for the very first time. Submarine channels are similar to land rivers, but they are formed by density currents - underwater flow mixtures of sand, mud and water that are denser than sea water and so sink and flow along the bottom. These channels are the main transport pathway for sediments to the deep sea where they form sedimentary deposits. These deposits ultimately hold not only untapped reserves of gas and oil, they also house important secrets - from clues on past climate change to the ways in which mountains were formed.
The team, led by Dr Dan Parsons and Dr Jeff Peakall from the University of Leeds, has been able to study the detailed flow within these channels. Dr Parsons quoted as: "The channel complex and the density flow provide the ideal natural laboratory for investigating and detailing the structure of the flow field through the channel. Our initial findings show that the flow in these channels is quite different to the flow in river channels on land. Specifically as flow moves around a bend it spirals in the opposite direction in the deep sea compared to the spiral to that found in river channels on land. This is important in understanding the sedimentology and layers of sediment deposited by these systems."
thumb| The submarine channel located below the Bosphorus.
It is thought by some that the channels in the Black Sea were formed around 6,000 years ago when sea levels were approaching their current point. The Mediterranean swelled and breached through into the Black Sea - once an isolated freshwater lake - via the Bosphorus Strait. As the waters surged, they carried a dense, salty fluid which formed a network of sea-floor channels that are almost constantly active, even today.
Some people even believe that this was the biblical event Noah's flood, but despite their historical significance, the first spectacular images of these submarine channels were only obtained in 2006 (by researchers at Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada who are project partners in this study).
The team will use the data obtained to create innovative computer simulations that can be used to model how sediment flows through these channels. The models the team will produce will have broad applications, including inputting into the design of seafloor engineering by oil and gas companies.
The project was led by Dr Jeff Peakall and Dr Daniel Parsons at the University of Leeds in collaboration with the University of Southampton, Memorial University (Newfoundland, Canada), and the Institute of Marine Sciences (Izmir, Turkey). The survey was run and coordinated from the Institute of Marine Sciences Research Ship, the R/V Koca Piri Reis.
The researchers estimate that the river - known as a submarine channel - would be the sixth largest river in the world if it were on land based on the amount of water flowing through it.