For millennia, boats have traveled the waterways of the Bosphorus, and until the 1973 completion of the first Bosphorus bridge, they were the only form of transportation between Istanbul's European and Asian parts. They continue to function as a vital public transportation link for tens of thousands of commuters and visitors each day.
The Sea of Marmara, also known as the Marmara Sea and the Propontis in ancient antiquity, is an inland sea lying wholly inside Turkey's boundaries. It links the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea, separating the European and Asian halves of the nation. It is connected to the Black Sea by the Bosphorus Strait and the Aegean Sea by the Dardanelles Strait.
Propontis is derived from the Greek words pro- (before) and Pontos (sea) and refers to the fact that the Greeks sailed through it on their way to the Black Sea, Pontos. And in Greek mythology, a storm on Propontis drew the Argonauts back to an island they had abandoned, setting up a fight in which either Jason or Heracles murdered King Cyzicus, who mistaken them for his Pelasgian foes.
In Istanbul, a city divided by the Bosphorus strait and surrounded by water, the ferry is one of the oldest modes of transportation. British and Russian-owned vessels began transporting goods over the Bosphorus in 1837. The Istanbul Maritime Company was founded in 1851 by Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I's edict. Six paddle steamers built at the Robert White shipyard in England launched the ferry service in 1853. In 1859, the service was expanded to include locations around Golden Horn. Screw-driven steamboats entered service after 1903. Boats were imported until 1929, after which the ferries were manufactured in Golden Horn shipyards.
The fleet grew to 40 boats at its height. With two boats acquired from England, the same business began automobile transportation over the Bosphorus between Kabataş and Üsküdar in 1867, as the world's first scheduled ferry lines. In 1945, all ferry businesses were nationalized.
The city is served by a variety of water-borne craft, ranging from privately owned boats to regular ferries to a fleet of high-speed catamaran sea buses.
IDO, Istanbul's Fast Ferry and Sea Bus Company, is the industry leader, offering visitors and residents alike the most peaceful and fastest mode of transportation in Istanbul, nearly as comfortable as flying. They offer an appropriate and affordable alternative for you whether you wish to go up and/or down the Bosphorus, travel between European and Asian beaches, or take a short journey to the Princes' Islands.