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‘Sultan boat’ revives historical Istanbul-Bursa sailing route



The long “sultan rowboats,” once very prevalent and dynamic sources of transportation primarily characteristic for Istanbul during late Ottoman era, have come to the fore once again, as one of its manufacturers recently set on a three-day journey to Bursa using one of the caiques.

Sultan boat manufacturer Harun Şahin finished his journey on Saturday in the Gölyazı neighborhood on the shores of Bursa’s Uluabat Lake, one of the city’s ancient settlements and a popular destination for local and foreign tourists.

Accompanied by a group of three companions, Şahin set out on the three-day voyage with a 15-meter-long (49.2-foot-long) and 4-meter-wide sultan’s boat traversing from Istanbul’s Golden Horn to the Marmara Sea to eventually reach Uluabat Creek.

During the journey, the crew encountered minor difficulties and were aided by a crane at specific points to navigate the stream and reach Uluabat Lake.

The expedition was organized in collaboration with members of the local Gölyazı Tourism Development and Cooperative association, aiming to boost local tourism potential and preserve historical significance.


The boat arrives in Uluabat Lake, Bursa, northwestern Türkiye, June 3, 2023. (AA Photo)

“The last time a boat sailed here from the Marmara was 70 years ago,” Şahin said.

Explaining that their objective was to revive this historic route, he noted they commenced the journey from the Bosporus on Wednesday. He also said the captain joined them; and explained that as they moved from Princes Island toward Imralı Island, they were able to reach the Uluabat area via the sea.

“As you enter the creek, it’s like heaven. The sounds of birds, ducks, reeds and forest were exceptional. They do the canal tours in Europe, England … I believe we have encountered more unique and natural scenery here,” Şahin explained.

Despite facing some challenges along the way, they received great assistance from locals and district governors, revealing the widespread desire to reopen this route and revive its nostalgic charm.

“I mean, it was visible … the nostalgia, they wanted the potential from 70 years ago to see the light of the day again,” Şahin explained.


Highlighting the potential of the region, Şahin emphasized that their endeavor aimed to demonstrate that individuals can embark on a seawater journey from Istanbul, witness the beauty of lotus flowers, hear birdsong in Gölyazı, anchor their boat and continue their journey toward Uludağ for skiing.

Şahin further announced that the sultan boat, with a capacity of 30 people, brought to Gölyazı will remain in Uluabat Lake for regional tourism purposes from now on.

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Source: Daily Sabah

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