Istanbul, historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 15.03 million people living in it as of December, 2018, which is 18% of Turkey’s population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe (if its Asian half is counted) after London and Moscow. The city in its administrative limits had 8.8 million residents counted in the latest Turkish census from 2000. Istanbul is a megacity, as well as the cultural, economic, and financial centre of Turkey. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. Istanbul is a designated alpha world city.
During its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). When the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed on 29 October 1923, Ankara, which had previously served as the headquarters of the Turkish national movement during the Turkish War of Independence, was chosen as the new Turkish State’s capital. Istanbul was chosen as a joint European Capital of Culture for 2010 and the European Capital of Sports for 2012. The historic areas of the city were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
The importance of being in Istanbul
The god and human, nature and art are together in there, they have created such a perfect place that it is valuable to see.” Lamartine’s famous poetic line reveals his love for İstanbul, describing the embracing of two continents, with one arm reaching out to Asia and the other to Europe.
İstanbul, once known as the capital of capital cities, has many unique features. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and the only one to have been a capital during two consecutive empires – Christian and Islamic. Once was capital of the Ottoman Empire, İstanbul still remains the commercial, historical and cultural pulse of Turkey, and its beauty lies in its ability to embrace its contradictions. Ancient and modern, religious and secular, Asia and Europe, mystical and earthly all co-exist here.
Its variety is one of İstanbul’s greatest attractions: The ancient mosques, palaces, museums and bazaars reflect its diverse history. The thriving shopping area of Taksim buzzes with life and entertainment. And the serene beauty of the İstanbul strait, Princes Islands and parks bring a touch of peace to the otherwise chaotic metropolis.
We can tell you where to start to discover the magnificent sceneries, the perfect architecture and the unique dishes of Istanbul!
Offering a wide range of alternatives, Istanbul welcomes its dear guests with special dishes for all tastes. A variety of cuisines from all over Turkey blending with the Ottoman culinary culture comprise a variety of specialties of incomparable taste.
Having started the day with a Turkish breakfast, which is famous for its diversity, you may take a trip to the islands of Istanbul where you will encounter an entirely different environment. You may enjoy the sun and the sea or prefer to ride a bike if you like.
Alternatively you may opt to take a city tour in Istanbul which is definitely worth the time. Beginning your tour at the historical peninsula, you can sightsee many monuments belonging to civilizations that had settled here. The Grand Bazaar, Nuru Osmaniye, Çemberlitas, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Archaeological Museum are among the major venues you may particularly enjoy sightseeing. After that you can cross the Golden Horn Bridge and give a coffee break at Karaköy before heading to Tünel and going up the Galata Tower to watch the splendid view of Istanbul.
Finally, you can try the tasty dishes of Turkish cuisine at any of the restaurants at Beyoğlu and eventually drop by the coast of Bebek or Arnavutkoy to enjoy the rest of the magnificence and beauty of Istanbul by night.
On the other hand, Pierre Loti, one of the most tranquil and charming corners in Istanbul, will invite you to drink some Turkish Tea and enjoy the view on site.
Eminönü is a convenient place to buy souvenirs and gifts that will remind you of your Istanbul experience all through life. For bigger shopping tours you may prefer to go to the great shopping centers in the districts nearby.
If you prefer to be carried away by the beat of the night you may consider visiting Kalamış, Fenerbahçe, Moda and Caddebostan located on the Anatolian side. Likewise, the coast of the European side, such as Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme, Bebek, Tarabya and Suada offer popular entertainment venues with doors open to guests until early sunrise.