A 1956 photo of the Bosphorus. The photo was taken from the Anatolian side of Istanbul. The Bosphorus, boats, Dolmabahçe Palace, and Dolmabahçe Mosque can be seen in the photo.

A 1956 photo of the Bosphorus. The photo was taken from the Anatolian side of Istanbul. The Bosphorus, boats, Dolmabahçe Palace, and Dolmabahçe Mosque can be seen in the photo.
A 1956 photo of the Bosphorus. The photo was taken from the Anatolian side of Istanbul. The Bosphorus, boats, Dolmabahçe Palace, and Dolmabahçe Mosque can be seen in the photo.

The Bosphorus Strait

The Bosphorus Strait, a natural waterway in northwestern Turkey, forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia. Approximately 31 kilometers (19 miles) long and ranging from 500 meters to 3 kilometers (0.31 to 1.86 miles) in width, it connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, which in turn is linked to the Aegean Sea by the Dardanelles Strait. This makes the Bosphorus a crucial international shipping lane, especially for energy transportation.

Geologically, the Bosphorus was formed through various tectonic activities. Its history dates back to the end of the last glacial period, around 12,000 years ago, when rising sea levels flooded the valleys, creating the current strait. This event is hypothesized to have inspired the legend of the Great Flood.

Strategically and economically, the Bosphorus has immense importance. It is a key passage for many nations, especially for oil-rich countries around the Black Sea, making it a strategic energy chokepoint. The strait has been central to several historical conflicts and continues to hold geopolitical significance.

Culturally, the Bosphorus is iconic, dividing Istanbul into European and Asian parts. It is adorned with historical sites, including palaces, fortresses, and bridges, reflecting the rich history of the region. The strait’s scenic beauty also makes it a popular tourist attraction.

Back in 1956, there was no bridge over the Bosphorus Strait. The first bridge, The Bosphorus Bridge (today the 15 July Martyrs Bridge) was built between 1970 and 1973 and opened on October 30, 1973. Today, there are three bridges over the Bosphorus, connecting the continents of Asia and Europe.

Bosphorus, 1956
Annotated version of the photo above.

Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace, located in Istanbul, Turkey, is a historically significant and architecturally magnificent structure. Built between 1843 and 1856, under the orders of Sultan Abdülmecid I, it served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922.

Spanning an area of 110,000 square meters, the palace is known for its blend of various European architectural styles, primarily Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical, combined with traditional Ottoman architecture. This eclectic style reflects the empire’s desire to modernize and align with Western Europe while maintaining its unique cultural identity.

The palace consists of three main parts: the Imperial Mabeyn (State Apartments), Muayede Salon (Ceremonial Hall), and the Imperial Harem. The Ceremonial Hall, with its massive crystal chandelier – a gift from Queen Victoria – and the grand staircase made of Bosphorus marble, are particularly noteworthy for their opulence.

Dolmabahçe Palace also holds significant historical value. It was the location where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of modern Turkey, spent his last days and passed away on November 10, 1938. His bedroom and belongings are preserved as a museum within the palace.

Today, the palace is a major tourist attraction, renowned for its luxurious decor, extensive collection of art, and beautifully landscaped gardens. It symbolizes the lavish lifestyle of the Ottoman sultans during a time when the empire was undergoing significant transformation and modernization.

Dolmabahçe Palace from the Bosphorus
Dolmabahçe Palace from the Bosphorus. Photo by Casalmaggiore Provincia – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Dolmabahçe Mosque

Dolmabahçe Mosque, also known as Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan Mosque, is an Ottoman-era mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. It was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I’s mother, Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan, in the mid-19th century. Following her death, Sultan Abdülmecid completed its construction in 1855.

Architecturally, the mosque is notable for its blend of traditional Ottoman and European influences, reflecting the broader stylistic changes in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century. Designed by the famous Armenian architect Garabet Balyan, who was part of the Balyan family of architects, it complements the adjacent Dolmabahçe Palace, sharing similar aesthetic features.

The structure of the mosque is unique with its neo-Baroque style, a departure from the classical Ottoman style. It features a main dome supported by semi-domes, a characteristic of traditional Ottoman mosque architecture, yet its details and ornamentation are influenced by European styles. The mosque’s interior is elegantly decorated with calligraphy, intricate tile work, and stained glass windows, creating a harmonious blend of artistic traditions.

Dolmabahçe Mosque is situated near the Bosphorus, offering picturesque views. It remains a functioning mosque, serving both as a place of worship and a tourist attraction. Its historical significance lies not only in its architectural beauty but also as a symbol of the Ottoman Empire’s transition during a period of Westernization and modernization.

Dolmabahçe Mosque from the Bosphorus
Dolmabahçe Mosque from the Bosphorus. Photo by Far-gh – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link


Özgür Nevres

Published by Özgür Nevres

I am a software developer, a former road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the city of Istanbul on this website. I live in Istanbul since 1992.

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