- 13 Dec 2007 05:41
The Golden Horn (Turkish: Halic) is an inlet of the Bosphorus dividing the city of Istanbul and forming a natural harbor.
According to Greek legend, the Golden Horn derives its name from Keroessa, the mother of Byzas the Megarian, who named it after her. It forms a deep natural harbor for the pensinsula it encloses together with the Sea of Marmara. The Byzantine Empire had its naval headquarters there, and walls were built along the shoreline to protect the city of Constantinople from naval attacks. At the entrance to the Horn, there was a large chain pulled across from Constantinople to the old Tower of Galato (which was known as the Megalos Pyrgos (Great Tower) among the Byzantines) on the northern side, preventing unwanted ships from entering. This tower was largely destroyed by the Latin Crusaders during the Fourth Crusade (1204), but the Geneose built a new tower nearby, the famous Galata Tower (1348) which they called Christea Turris (Tower of Christ).
There were three notable times when the chain across the Horn was either broken or circumvented. In the 10th century the Vikings (Varangians) dragged their longships out of the Bosphorus, around Galata, and relaunched them in the Horn; the Byzantines defeated them with Greek fire. In 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, Venetian ships were able to break the chain with a ram. In 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, having failed in his attempt to copy the Venetians and break the chain with brute force (indeed, heavily damaging his own ships in the process), instead copied the tactics of the Rus', towing his ships across Galata into the estuary over greased logs. Constantinople to Fatih Sultan Mehmet, Greek citizens, the Greek Orthodox Church, Jews, Italian merchants, and other non-Muslims began to live along the Horn in the Phanar ( Fener) and Balat districts. Today the Golden Horn is settled on both sides, and there are parks along each shore. The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce is also located along the shore, as are Muslim, Jewish and Christian cemeteries. The Galata Bridge connects the districts of Galata and Eminonu. Two other bridges, the Ataturk Bridge and the Halic Bridge, are located further up the Horn. Until the 1980s the Horn was inquinated with industrial waste, but has since been cleaned up and is a popular tourist attraction in Istanbul because of its history and beauty