Bridges and hidden legends of Istanbul’s dazzling Bosporus

Özge Şengelen

With three bridges over its waters that connect the two continents and the Eurasia Tunnel, which is under its fierce waters, along with its hidden mythological legends, the Bosporus continues to be a favorite waterway of domestic and foreign travelers

Undoubtedly, for many of us, the Bosporus is one of the first names that come to mind when Istanbul is mentioned. The waters of the Bosporus, which has become a symbol of the city, its bridges and its magnificent view are among the places that every tourist who comes to Istanbul seeks out.

The Bosporus air makes one forget the crowd and chaos of Istanbul instantly. There is peace of mind that envelopes you. In addition to the spiritual pleasure that the Bosporus gives people, it is also strategically and politically important.

The location of the Bosporus has always been important, no matter what civilization reigns in Istanbul, a metropolis that has hosted different civilizations and cultures for millennia.

The fact that the bridges in the Bosporus connect the continents of Asia and Europe and that Istanbul is spread over two continents has increased the city’s importance. The Bosporus, which is always at the forefront not only in promoting Istanbul but also in promoting Türkiye, has been used as one of the busiest sea routes in maritime transportation from the past to the present. Many countries with a coast on the Black Sea have to pass through the Bosporus to reach the Mediterranean.

While a total of three bridges on it offer wonderful views of Istanbul, it also facilitates the transition between continents. The July 15 Martyrs Bridge, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, which stand like a necklace over the strait, connect the two sides of Istanbul.

Apart from bridges, the Eurasia Tunnel, accelerating the transition between continents, continues to serve by adding a new underwater dimension to transportation.

July 15 Martyrs Bridge

Undoubtedly, it is the most iconic bridge in Istanbul. The bridge, with one end in the Ortaköy district of the European continent and the other end in the Üsküdar district of the Asian continent, was put into service in 1973.

Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge

Known as the Second Bosporus Bridge, the bridge was built at the narrowest point of the Bosporus. Made of steel, this suspension bridge stretches from Hisarüstü on the European continent to Kavacık on the Asian continent. The bridge is 1,510 meters (4,955 feet) long and has the same dimensions as the July 15 Martyrs Bridge. You enjoy the view of Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the Bosporus from Otağtepe, one of the most beautiful parks in Istanbul.

Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge

Known as “the third bridge,” this bridge got its name from the Ottoman Sultan Selim I. Located close to the Black Sea entrance, it stretches from Garipçe in the European continent to Poyrazköy in the Asian continent. The bridge, one of the world’s most comprehensive and longest suspension bridges, is designed for vehicle, pedestrian and rail vehicles.

Eurasia Tunnel

The Eurasia Tunnel, which adds a different dimension to the transition between continents, is the world’s first two-story highway tunnel connecting the continents. The tunnel, which adds a new dimension to submarine transportation, accelerates the transition between two continents. The tunnel connects Kazlıçeşme on the European continent with Ayrılıkçeşme on the Asian continent.

Hidden legends

Touring the Bosporus with boat tours in many places along the coastline of Istanbul is now a common touristic activity. What is the Bosporus, though? This name has a mythological story and meaning. Bosporus combines the Greek “bous” meaning cow and “poros” meaning road or passage. So, it actually means “Cow Pass.” Of course, this name, which comes from Greek mythology, also has a story.

According to the legend, the god Zeus fell in love with Princess Io, the daughter of the King of Argos, who had deep blue eyes and an enchanting beauty. Although Zeus was married to Hera then, he could not prevent his feelings and started an affair with Io. Hera, a jealous goddess, realized the situation and wanted to catch Zeus’ infidelity. As Hera captured the two of them together, Zeus turned his lover into a cow to hide and protect her.

Hera realized the cow was Io and haunted her with a fierce horsefly. The fly bit Io and chased her. Io began to run from continent to continent trying to flee the constant pain she experienced. Passing from the Aegean to the Black Sea, the valley filled with water and the Bosporus was formed. Since that day, the Bosporus has been known as the “Bosporus,” the “Cow Pass.”

The legend does not end here. Io shook her head from side to side, annoyed by the fly that haunts her. In the meantime, as she hits her head to the right and left, deep cracks open in the soil. One of the rifts that emerged during this rampage is the Golden Horn today. Io created an inland sea with her golden horns. As a result, its name remains the Golden Horn.

According to a legend, Io became pregnant by Zeus and gave birth to a daughter. This young girl, whose name is Keroessa, grew up and married the sea god Poseidon. She has a son named Byzas. Since Byzas was born in Istanbul, he decided to establish a city here with the help of his father, Poseidon, and Apollon. Byzas surrounded the city with walls and managed to protect it from enemies, and named the Golden Horn in memory of his grandmother Io.

Many geographical formations or structures worth seeing in Istanbul, which has hosted many civilizations from the past to the present, have different and interesting stories. The Bosporus is just one of them.

With its deep-rooted history, Istanbul is one of the first cities that come to mind when Türkiye is mentioned, but it is a city with a completely unique spirit for which poems and songs have been written. One can feel people’s unique love for this metropolis in those poems and songs, a love infused into those born and raised in Istanbul.

Courtesy: Dailysabah