Legendary for its beauty throughout history, Istanbul is not only one of the centers of commerce, business world, and money today but also a source of attraction for tourists for the unique texture it has as a city that was once a capital to empires. One of the most worth seeing places in Istanbul is the Estuary known as the “Golden Horn” by tourists.  

Certainly, the only reason why this beautiful region of Istanbul, around which people have been living for centuries, is called the Golden Horn is not the reflection of sunlight with a glitter of gold in the painters’ canvases and the photographers’ frames. 

Do you wonder why this natural beauty adorned with legends, which has become the subject of novels and movies, is called the Golden Horn? Then, you have come to the right place. We would like to explain to you why this region that has the most beautiful scene of the city is called the Golden Horn, the meaning of this name mentioned in folk tales and legends… 

The name who transformed the Ottoman State into a global empire, who put his stamp on history by closing an age and opening another one, Sultan Mehmed II… or Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror as known by us all. The conquest of Istanbul, after which the Sultan has been called the Conqueror, took place after a 53-day long siege. 

When the city was besieged, the Byzantine Emperor appealed to the Pope and the European monarchs for help, and only the Genoese replied to his appeal. When they see that the city will be lost at the end of the siege continuing for almost two months now, the prominent families of Byzantium cannot decide on what to do. 

The Byzantine rich thinking that they would be deprived of their wealth if the city is conquered by the Ottomans consult with an oracle about what to do. The oracle alleges that the city will be conquered soon, but taken back by Byzantium after some time. According to the oracle, the European monarchs will come to assistance, and thus there is no need to fear. However, there is one thing the rich people of the city should do: They must put all their gold coins, jewelries, valuable articles in chests, and throw those chests into the Estuary. In this way, they could recover all of them from the sea when the city has been taken back by Byzantium, and their wealth would not be seized by the Ottomans. 

Seized with fear and becoming hopeful simultaneously with the oracle’s words, the Byzantine people put all their gold coins, valuable articles, and jewelries in the chests bearing their names, and throw those chests into the Estuary with a ceremony. Meanwhile, the Ottomans who laid siege to the city and took their ships to the Estuary after hauling them over the land do not understand what is going on. They cannot make any sense of what the Byzantines, who are throwing the big and small chests into the waters of the Estuary, are doing. And they shrug off. 

In the meantime, Byzantium falls, and Constantinople is conquered. The Byzantine king dies on the run; the Ottomans enter the city; the churches are converted into mosques; the city Constantinople is renamed as Istanbul, and becomes the new Ottoman capital. The Middle Age ends, and the New Age begins. The wealth of the rich people of the city, their chests full of gold, on the other hand, remain buried in the depths of the Estuary. It is nothing but these chests full of Byzantine gold that glitter during sunrise and sunset, thus creating a unique visual beauty. 

It is unknown whether this is just an urban legend or has a kernel of truth, but this is given as another reason why the Estuary is called the Golden Horn. You too stay in Aspera Hotel Golden Horn in the heart of Pera where the Continents meet; see the Estuary, i.e. the Golden Horn, for yourself, and you decide how much true the urban legends are.

Our series of articles disclosing the secrets of the Golden Horn from legends to folk tales will be continued…