Tale of two continents told at sea
By Jim Eagles
Ortakoy Mosque, built by an Ottoman
sultan, is a vision of wealth
IN less than a minute I had passed from Europe to Asia. There was no
need for my passport to be stamped and no customs inspection ... though
the driver did have to pay a small toll.
To move from one continent to another we simply drove across the
elegant 1075m-long Bosphorous Bridge while still remaining in Turkey.
The land on either side of the narrow strip of water dividing Europe
from Asia, and linking the Mediterranean with the Black Sea -
comprising the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorous - has
throughout history been one of the most strategically important, and
therefore highly prized, points in Eurasia.
Mehmet Kayici, the archaeologist who guided me around Istanbul, said
historians knew of no fewer than 48 attempts to conquer the area. One
of the earliest saw Darius the Great, King of Persia, build a bridge of
ships to take his forces across the narrow Mediterranean entrance, with
the exploit commemorated in the name Dardanelles.
And a more recent attempt involved Anzac troops who, among others,
landed at Gallipoli in an ill-fated attempt to allow Royal Navy ships
to pass through those straits to the Black Sea.
Given all that history, it is hardly surprising that the shores of
the Bosphorous, in particular, are lined with beautiful and historic
buildings - mosques and palaces, watchtowers and castles - as well as
the homes of the modern elite.
You can explore that panorama by land or by sea, but preferably by
both, which is what I did.
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