Bosporus Boat Tour

Reading Turkish culture, particularly the culture of Istanbul, means that we need to recognize its important strategic location in empire building. Most of the great empires that we think of today–Rome, Byzantine, Ottoman–would not have had as much power and influence if they never conquered Istanbul. Istanbul is located on the Bosporus Straight, the body of water that separates Europe from Asia, which means that it was central in connecting the people of the West to those in the East. Taking a boat ride on the Bosporus allowed us to fully appreciate the value of water and how being that close to one of the most important straights in the world is a central influence on Turkish culture.

In addition to the importance of water, the boat ride gives the passengers a full view of the Seven Hills of Istanbul, demonstrating the importance of land as well. The hills were vital to military strategy during the time of the empires because forts were built at the top so that pending attacks could be seen from both the water and from land. There is even a fort still standing on the European side, demonstrating the technological ingenuity of the Ottoman Empire. The fort was located at the most narrow part of the straight so that ships could easily block passage at that point. Reading the culture of Turkey is difficult without being able to understand the factors that made Istanbul one of the most important cities in the world for centuries. Turkish culture is derived from their history and the continuous fight for the control of the region. Even today, although the Bosporus Straight is internationally controlled, the culture of Istanbul is continually influenced by the ships passing thorough the Straight.

-Katie Testut

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