Visitors to Istanbul should not miss to make a Bosphorus cruise on the 32 km (20-mile) long strait which joins the Sea of Marmara to the south with the Black Sea to the north of Istanbul.
Its English name "Bosporus" comes from mythology. Zeus had an affair with a beautiful woman named lo. When Hera, his wife, discovered his infidelity, she turned Io into a cow and created a horsefly to sting her on the rump. lo jumped clear across the strait.
What you see on the Cruise:
Topkapi Palace, Europe
You motor out of the Golden Horn past Topkap Palace, covering the hill at the tip of Saray Burnu (Palace Point).
Maiden's Tower, mid Bosphorus
A 12th-century Byzantine fortress occupied the tiny islet where the 18th-century Kz Kulesi (also called Leander's Tower) now stands. A tower here may have served as a customs post. Featured in the James Bond movie From Russia With Love, the tower now houses a restaurant.
The largest Asian district, directly across the Bosphorus.
Dolmabahce Palace, Europe
The façade of this great Ottoman palace (1853) is nearly a quarter of a mile (400 meters) long.
Cragan Palace, Europe
Finished in 1874, the marble palace of Ciragan (CHEE-rah-AHN) has a tragic history.
Yldz Park & Palace, Europe
The swath of green forest behind Ciragan is Yldz ("Star") Park.
Ortaköy & Mecidiye Mosque, Europe
You've probably seen photos of the Mecidiye Mosque (1854).
Bosphorus Bridge (connecting Europe and Asia)
Ever since the Persian emperor Darius built his bridge of boats acoss the Bosphorus in 490 BC, rulers of Istanbul have dreamt of a bridge between Europe and Asia.
Beylerbeyi Palace, Asia
2.5 km (1.5 miles) northeast of Üsküdar, is a "small" Istanbul summer palace overlooking the Bosphorus from its Asian shore
Beyond the Bosphorus Bridge there's plenty more to see: The village of Cengelköy, Kuleli Naval Academy, Arnavutköy with its photogenic Ottoman yals (wooden Bosphorus seaside mansions), Rumeli Hisar (the mighty Fortress of Europe), the town of Bebek with its pretty bay, and Bosphorus University.