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Bosphorus Guide

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The Bosphorus Strait forms a division between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. Leading from the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, it is the narrowest strait in the world used for international navigation. It’s wonderful to watch the huge ships as they pass through this slender passage.

The Bosphorus is a popular option for a cruise in Istanbul, allowing passengers to see the many beautiful seaside suburbs - including Besiktas, Ortaköy, Emirgan and Bebek- which grace its shoreline. These former villages are now popular places of residence for Istanbul’s elite and are the site of some of Istanbul’s most up-market hotels, restaurants and nightclubs.

Besiktas is the first of these villages, and the resident Dolmabahce Palace is an opulent greeting to the Bosphorus suburbs. Nearby is the Naval Museum, which houses a large collection of nautically themed artifacts.

Next is Ortakoy, a popular place to enjoy the Turkish stuffed potato- Kumpir – in the town square, while taking in its baroque mosque and gazing up at the Bosphorus Bridge linking Europe with Asia.

Bebek, meaning ‘baby’ in Turkish, is a quaint and affluent suburb which rises up from the Bosphorus and into the tree-dotted areas above. Most come to Bebek to enjoy the collection of upmarket waterfront cafes and restaurants or to spot local celebrities enjoying a Sunday brunch.

Further along from Bebek is the Rumeli Hisari Fortress, built by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, as well as Sabanci University's Sakip Sabanci fine arts Museum in Emirgan.

A series of quaint fishing villages also line the Asian shores of the Bosphorus. With its impressive huddle of restored Ottoman houses and small cafes, makes for a lovely afternoon stop, while nearby Cengelkoy boasts a fine selection of seafood restaurants along its waterfront.

The Bosphorus ends at the Black Sea, where some of the best beaches in the region are. During the summer months, locals flock to beach resorts such as Kilyos on the European side and Sile on the Asian side.

Photos: Bosphorus © Yildirim Incealemdaroglu

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