As the sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean and the narrow meeting point between Europe and Asia, the Bosphorus has been of immense strategic and commercial importance ever since humanity first strapped a few planks together and took up paddling. Old Istanbul straddles both sides, with one leg in Europe, the other in Asia and the whole world passing in between. The history of the region is littered with war, invasion, conquest and capture. No doubt, it will be again.

In 2011, BBC Radio 4 ran a three part history of the Bosphorus. It’s an absorbing tale, well told by Edward Stourton. If you have time to spare, tune in the wireless, sit back with a small cup of sweetened kahve, a slice of baklava and lose yourself in the drama while your teeth rot and your arteries harden. Click on the picture link below:

Radio 4

Interestingly, the word “Bosphorus” derives from the ancient Greek “Bosporos” which means “Oxford.” Who knew?

With many thanks to Alan Austin who sent me a link to the programme.

16 thoughts on “The Bosphorus

  1. Thank you for this Jack that was lovely and I loved the end conversation with the Rakı drinking story, my partner knows this one so well….thought I might just paste a description of the word Bosporos for your interest, hope you don’t mind as I have always been fascinated with it.

    “The name comes from Greek Bosporos (Βόσπορος),[2] which the ancient Greeks analysed as bous βοῦς ‘ox’ + poros πόρος ‘means of passing a river, ford, ferry’, thus meaning ‘ox-ford’, which is a reference to Io (mythology) from Greek mythology who was transformed into a cow and condemned to wander the earth until she crossed the Bosphorus where she met Prometheus. Although it has been known for a while that the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara flow into each other in an example of a density flow, findings of a study by the University of Leeds in August 2010 reveal that there is in fact an underwater channel of high-density water flowing across the floor of the Bosphorus (caused by the difference in density of the two seas), which would be the sixth largest river on Earth if it were to be on land.[3]”


  2. . . ahhh! if only we had the bandwidth like you guys, such are the trials of living up a valley without much signal or a land-line. Mind you, you should try sitting out in our garden just now – 😀


  3. Oh, I’ve clicked into Perking The Pansies right at the perfect time it looks like! Thanks (and thanks to Alan Austin, too 😉 ) for this link. We knew nothing of the series but we’re definitely going to give it a listen, now we do know about it. Rock and roll lifestyle that we have, we’ll probably be sat in bed with a cuppa, listening to Radio 4…I know we’re getting old because that’s starting to sound more inviting that trundling into Fethiye town centre on a Saturday night. 😉


  4. Thanks for this link. I’ve just enjoyed listening to all 3 episodes whilst packing. I’m leaving the Bodrum bubble to spend a few weeks in Istanbul staying in an apartment overlooking the Bosphorus. Perfect timing.


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