The New Student's Reference Work/Bosphorus
Bosporus or Bosphorus meaning oxford, from the legend that Io swam across it in the form of a cow, is the channel that separates Europe from Asia and connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmora. It was more particularly called the Thracian Bosporus to distinguish it from other straits to which the same name had been given. Throughout its length the strait has on either side seven bays or gulfs, with corresponding promontories on the other side. One of these gulfs, often called the Golden Horn, forms the harbor of Constantinople. The Bosporus is about seventeen miles long and from a third of a mile to two miles broad, with an average depth of about 180 feet. The banks are richly dotted with cypress, laurels and ancient plane trees, and covered with palaces, villages, villas and gardens. It was at the middle of this strait that Darius made his bridge of boats when he marched against the Scythians. The Bosporus has long been under the control of Turkey, and by common consent of the European powers, is closed to all but her own war vessels, though the sultan may open them to his allies in time of war.