"If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul." (Alphonse de Lamartine) "On the meeting point of two worlds, the ornament of Turkish homeland, the treasure of Turkish history, the city cherished by the Turkish nation, İstanbul has its place in the hearts of all citizens" (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk). Some writers would say Istanbul is a place where East meets West – where Europe and Asia make eyes at each other over nothing more than a simple river. Others would say it’s the way that empires have bumped up against each other over millennia, creating a rich patchwork of tradition and architecture. Anyway one of the most authentic cities in the world, Istanbul fascinates by day, by night, in the sunset, with its positive energy and its unique magic. A visit to İstanbul is not complete without a traditional and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus, the strait that separates Europe and Asia as its shores offer a delightful mixture of past and present, grand splendor and simple beauty. Modern hotels stand next to Yalis (waterfront wooden villas); marble palaces abut on rustic stone fortresses and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages.
The best way to see the Bosphorus is to board one of the passenger boats that regularly zigzag along the shores. Embark at Eminönü and stop alternately on the Asian and European sides of the strait! The round-trip excursion, very reasonably priced, takes about six hours. For those who want a private voyage, there are agencies that specialize in organizing day or night-time mini-cruises. Jump on board the cruise vessel and set sail to see the city of Istanbul from the water. The cruise will take you past historic Ottoman palaces, such as the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace while further along raise the green parks and imperial pavilions of the Yıldız Palace. Relax as you drift by Ottoman neighborhoods such as Beylerbeyi and look out for beautiful 19th- and 20th-century wooden kiosks, mansions, and villas that form the elegant waterside section of the city. Sail under the massive Bosphorus Bridge, which connects 2 continents, and watch the city’s busy river life both on and off the water as ships sail and fishermen cast off from the banks. Enjoy the wildflowers covering the hills in the spring and the minarets of mosques towering over the city all year round. To the waterfront of the parks stands the Çırağan Palace, refurbished in 1874 by Sultan Abdul-Aziz, and now restored as a grand hotel. For 300m along the Bosphorus shore, its ornate marble facades reflect the swiftly moving water. At Ortaköy, the next stop, every Sunday artists gather to exhibit their works in a street side gallery with the variety of people creating a lively scene. Overshadowing Istanbul’s traditional architecture at Ortaköy is one of the world’s largest suspension bridges, the Boğaziçi Bridge, linking Europe and Asia. This Bosphorus cruise will let you see the best of both banks in just half a day!
From the comfort of your ship you can enjoy the marvelous sunsets on the Bosphorus. Take in the views and the amazing photo opportunities of precious relics from three world-dominating empires: Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. And at night, a Bosphorus Dinner Cruise is a “1001 Nights” tale experience to make it the highlight of your stay. You will meet Belly Dancers, Romany girls, funny shows, and Folklore dances from all over the Turkey.
The Bosporus is absolutely breathtaking in every possible way, day or night. Board a local ferry and cruise on it … there’s something magical about Istanbul city on the Bosphorus. Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds…. It’s impossible to describe properly and it’s something you must live!
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