THE GOLDEN HORN
As a natural and extremely secure harbor, the Golden Horn has played an important role in the development of Istanbul. The inlet separates the European shore into two. It is approximately 8 km long, and the widest part is the entrance from the Bosphorus. Two streams drain into this inlet at its far end.
There are no tides or currents here. The name Golden Horn is both a symbol of fertility because of the fertile lands on its shores, the abundance of fish in its waters, and the fresh water of the streams and a reference to its shape.
In the Byzantine era, a chain at the entrance prevented the entry of foreign fleets into the Golden Horn. Bridges have connected the two shores from time to time; some of them built for military purposes. At present a fifth bridge is being planned for metro trains to cross. From the piers, crowded at all times, there are regular boat tours to the Asian shore, the Bosphorus and the Princes' Islands. The Harem section of
the Topkapi Palace gives a bird's eye view of the Golden Horn. The Sepetciler Kasri on the shore was a part of the Palace complex, and it is now allocated to the use of international journalists.
Nearby is the last stop of trains from Europe, the Sirkeci Railway Station built in 1890. The old Galata Bridge was recently moved to another site down the Golden Horn, and the new bridge is the largest example of its kind.
The central section of the bridge is opened on some days to allow the passage of larger ships. The bridge is a lively and interesting site, due both to the unending stream of pedestrian and car traffic and the view it offers.
The pollution in the Golden Horn after the 1950's has been taken under control thanks to the efforts undertaken since 1980. In recent years, over four thousand buildings on the shores of the Golden Horn have been demolished, the businesses moved to new centers outside the city, the shores turned into parks and gardens, and wastewater treatment plants involving vast canal systems and collectors constructed.
Of the sea walls along the bank, only some portions beyond the second Ataturk Bridge and those near the old Galata Bridge have survived.In Balat there is a small Bulgarian church made of cast iron, and further along in Fener the church and complex of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. On the opposite shore, the large building in Kasimpa§a is a naval construction dating to the 19th century. An old building with 8 domes, originally a foundry producing anchors for ships, was converted into a museum exhibiting model ships, machinery and other nautical equipment by the Koc family. The Aynahkavak Kasn in this district is the only surviving pavilion of the palaces on the Golden Horn and is open to visitors as a museum.