Deep within the mountains of skyscrapers that compose New York City, the ocean is all but forgotten. In Istanbul, the water is a central part of the cityscape.
If you board a ferry and follow the Bosphorus all the way to the Black Sea, which we did this morning, you notice that while the city sprawls to the water’s edge, the skyscrapers are relegated to sections of hilltops. Next to Venice, I haven’t visited a city where water is such an integral part of daily life.
If not for its choppy waves and blue-green color, you’d think the Bosphorus was a mighty river a la the Mississippi. But when you follow the Strait to the Black Sea, you are confronted with a seemingly infinite body of water just beyond the gargantuan pilings of a bridge in progress.
The last village on the right before the Bosphorus merges with the sea is Anadolu Kavagi. It’s home to the remains of Yoros Kalesi, a castle first fortified during the Byzantine Empire. A sister castle once stood on the opposite side of the Strait and a huge chain was stretched across the Bosphorus to prevent unwanted ships from entering.
This area continues to be important to the defense of Istanbul today. (Think Russian oligarch who has gained access to the Black Sea with his endeavors in Ukraine.) It was evident that Turkey aggressively protects this border as most of the land around Yoros Kalesi was owned by the government and housed fenced-in military installations equipped with armed guards.
But Anadolu Kavagi remains a prime
tourist spot and four American tourists respectfully ignored the military presence as we dined and went about sightseeing in the village.