The total length of the Bosphorus bridge is 1560 m [1]. The total length of the proposed bridge over Hellespont is 2196 m [2]. Even if there's a point on the Hellespont where the distance between the two sides is shorter than the shortest distance between the Bosphorus, considering the turbulent waters of the Hellespont, why didn't Xerxes chose Bosphorus over Hellespont to make the crossing?

As a side remark, I have heard the references to Hellespont far more often compared to Bosphorus, a fact which I find interesting.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosphorus_Bridge
2. http://www.botek.info/detay_motor_12.html

  • According to Wikipedia, Alexander the Great used it to invade the other direction as well. – T.E.D. Oct 30 '13 at 19:11
  • The lengths of the modern bridges are irrelevant. The length of the proposed bridge at the Hellespont may be 2Km, but that's the total length, which includes elevated interchanges and tolls. The actual distance of the crossing at Çanakkale is 1.4Km. – yannis Oct 30 '13 at 19:45
  • @YannisRizos: Although you have a point, both bridges needs extra lengths. The actual width of the Bosphorus at that point is rather 1km. But all this is irrelevant, since the Bosphorus isn't anywhere near where Xerxes wanted to go. You might just as well ask why he didn't choose to go around the Black sea. – Lennart Regebro Oct 31 '13 at 8:23
  • @LennartRegebro Sure, I only mentioned the actual width at the Hellespont bridge because I was bored to look for the width of the Bosphorus one ;) – yannis Oct 31 '13 at 11:36

If you look at Xerxes' route, the answer is obvious:

enter image description here

Source: Map showing the Greek world during the Greco-Persian Wars (ca. 500–479 BC).

Xerxes' army moved North from Sardis, seeking alliances with or conquering Ionian cities. There was extremely little of interest for Xerxes after Abydos (the crossing point, according to Herodotus). Going all the way to Bosphorus, a few days of marching essentially in the opposite direction of Greece, just to save a few meters of a (floating) bridge wouldn't have been the wisest of decisions.

More importantly, Xerxes' land route was paralleled by the route of his fleet. The fleet was essential in the crossing:

  • It provided protection from attacks from the Aegean,
  • The bridge was actually a series of anchored ships.

Furthermore, had Xerxes' chosen Bosphorus, he wouldn't have avoided Hellespontus' turbulent waters, quite the opposite. The fleet would have had to deal with Hellespontus' unwelcoming waters twice: Once going from the Aegean to Bosphorus to support the construction of the bridge, and once returning.

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