This prominent body of water is a horn-shaped estuary that joins Bosphorus Strait at the immediate point where the strait meets the Sea of Marmara, thus forming a narrow, isolated peninsula, the tip of which is "Old Istanbul" (ancient Byzantium and Constantinople), and the promontory of Sarayburnu, or Seraglio Point. The Golden Horn geographically separates the historic center of Istanbul from the rest of the city, and forms a natural, sheltered harbor that has historically protected Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and other maritime trade ships for thousands of years.
While the reference to a "horn" is understood to refer to the inlet's general shape, the significance of the designation "golden" is more obscure, with historians believing it to refer to either the riches brought into the city through the bustling historic harbor located along its shores, or to romantic artistic interpretations of the rich yellow light blazing upon the estuary's waters as the sun sets over the city. Its Greek and English names mean the same, while its Turkish name, Haliç, simply means "estuary", and is derived from the Arabic word khaleej, meaning "gulf".
Throughout its storied past, the Golden Horn has witnessed many tumultuous historical incidents, and its dramatic vistas have been the subject of countless works of art.