The Bosphorous to the Black Sea

The last few days have seen the students getting to know their site for the studio project (Kabataş Pier) and getting more acquainted with the Bosphorus – that spectacular ribbon of watery (and jellyfishy) awesome-ness that divides Istanbul into it’s European and Asian Sides.  As part of their “City in Visual Culture” Class, they are documenting – for the first thematic of the course – an aspect of the Bosphorus – it’s ecology, it’s urban and peri-urban edges, it’s infrastructures (both artificial and natural), it’s expression through literature, art and photography, and so on.  They’ve started on their research and analysis – and as part of both, practical excursions and field trips are necessary.  They’ve been walking it’s edges, taking inter-city ferries, recording sound and video, drawing and sketching and becoming Bosphorous-o-philes (it’s not that difficult to become one, really).  The Bosphorous though, is much more than a sea-way for north south shipping or east-west city water-traffic; it embodies both a living organicity as well as a cultural and historical touchstone for Istanbullus as well as the ever-constant visitor.  Seen through Melling’s panoramas of the city or Ara Güler’s timeless photographs, the Bosphorous is… well, it just really, you know… is.

We’ll be exploring it’s southern boundary soon (the Marmara), but we took a long Ferry trip up to experience and encounter it’s northern edge – the Black Sea.  Our Ferry left at Eminönü Pier at 10:30 and we criss-crossed the Boğaziçi, back and forth – amazed (always) at how long Istanbul goes on for – until we docked at the village of Anadolu Kavağı. We hiked up through the village – through a spectacular cemetery and found ourselves (I was a little out of breath) at the very top, where an accommodating local let us through a locked gate through the Fortress on a high hill (Joshua’s Hill)  above the town and overlooking Macar Bay and the inlet to the Black Sea.  Held successively over the years by the Byzantines, the Genoese and the  Ottomans, not much remains of Yoros Fortress.  The Fortess occupies one of the narrower points on the Bosphorous (like the Rumeli Hisar and the Andolou Hisar – which we passed going up) and a chain could be strung across the mouth – effectively cutting off access.

The views were breathtaking – looking north to the Black Sea, making out the faint silhouettes of ships large and small, and south, to the inexorably growing city of Istanbul, with its visible skyscrapers, cranes and creeping urbanism.  We walked back down into the village and had a quick lunch (Köfte, Fried Mussels, Stuffed Mussels, çorba – lentil soup + the now requisite “Magnum” ice-cream bar – or in some cases, ahem… bars, plural).  Our trip back to Istanbul took an hour and a half, and we returned to Sultanahmet a little  Black Sea windblown, but much better acquainted with the Bosphorous.

Students also attended the opening gallery exhibition for Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week last night – but that’a whole other story.


Rachel and Keara, Drawing on the boat.


Arrival at the Black Sea.


“There once was a River here!”


Our intrepid crew on the Black Sea.  (Milestone # 3 unlocked: no-one fell off Yoros Castle into the Bosphorous, but Juan – sorry dude, I have to say it – ripped his pants climbing up for the photo)


The view back towards Istanbul


Everyone drawing on the boat.


Satavee and Sarah… yes, drawing on the boat.


  1. Ozayr,
    I am enjoying your posts and those of your students more than you can imagine. The writing from Rome and Florence captured both the beauty and the grit in appropriate measure.

    As for Istanbul, the initial importance of the Bosphorus in the narrative … well, that’s why this was/is/will be the center of the world.

    My thanks to you and your students.


    • Ozayr

      Michael – Thank you for keeping in touch with our exploits and adventures, and, of course, for your kind words. We’re glad you’re following us around on our travels and we hope we can continue to capture your attention for the rest of our time here in the City of the World’s Desire. All best to you and yours back states-side –

  2. Pingback: Highlights | University of Minnesota Rome -Istanbul Study Abroad Spring 2015

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: