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Istanbul is an old city; you can see the remains of many ancient civilizations and their culture in harmony with Turkish culture. The old versus the new, the traditional versus the modern is a conflict a visitor often observes. The city is full of contrasts, and colourful views, where the blowing winds from the seven peaks of Anatolian Olympus merge into each other... Where Amazon's cooled their bodies in the waves that break apart from the Black Sea and roll mightily against the shore … Where love is symbolised in the Maiden's Tower ... Where stand the rocks of Symplegad that brought nightmares to the Argonauts ... 

Built on seven hills on Asia and Europe ... Capital of three empires ... Where romance and traffic jam go hand in hand ... Lively and exciting ...A world metropolis ... 

Sometimes described as 'the crossroads of Europe and Asia', Istanbul - formerly Constantinople - is a vast, heaving metropolis with an imperial history that stretches back for more than 1,600 years. No longer Turkey's capital but still the cultural heart of the nation, this city of 13 million sprawls across both sides of a land bridge spanning two continents. Istanbul's unique position on the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean, has resulted in the city being a jealously guarded centre of world trade since the Byzantine era.

Protected by water on three sides, with the natural harbor of the Golden Horn nestled within the city, Istanbul has always enjoyed an ideal location for conducting east-west trade and building empires. The city fell to the Ottomans in 1453 but remained a vital trading post for spices and textiles brought to Europe via the Silk Road from as far away as China. Because of its prime geographic position, Istanbul has suffered from frequent sieges over the centuries. That which started out as a Hellenic outpost to New Rome, the world's first Christian capital, went on to become the headquarters of the Ottoman Sultans, masters of the world's biggest Muslim Empire. Its identity today is altogether more secular but still combines both eastern and European characteristics. As a result of such a rich and varied history, Istanbul's architectural inheritance is second to none. Fine examples are visible throughout the city with stunning Ottoman mosques, classical columns, Byzantine structures, ancient city walls and fine Orthodox churches.


All three are names for a city with a great past and an interesting present. It was in its time the capital of the 2 world empires which seem incompatible. The eastern Roman empire, Byzantine, was Christian, imbued with European whereas the Ottoman was rooted in the traditions and rules of the newest world religion, Islam, born in Asia. The Islamic conquerors, however, not only took possessions of the country, they took over and adopted anything which seemed of value; Byzantine architecture, monasteries as models for their mosques, baths, cisterns, water supplies, etc. Thus their capital became a bridge between east and west, and buildings from both eras and both cultures still stand impressively side by side today. 

The Bosphorus not only divides Europe and Asia, but also the city which thus becomes a bridge between two continents and cultures.  Located in the centre of the world, İstanbul is an important metropolis famous for historical monuments and magnificent beauty. It is the only city in the world that spreads onto two continents. Situated in the region where Europe and Asia are separated by a narrow strait, the Bosphorus. It has a history both colourful and dynamic of 2500 years. Following the establishment of the city at this point of separation of the two continents where the land and sea embrace each other, the area gained strategic importance and soon became a centre of trade and commerce. 

The historic city of Istanbul is located on a peninsula on three sides by the Sea of Marmara, the entrance to the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It was the capital of three great empires : “ The Roman, The Byzantine and The Ottoman”. During those 1600 years, more than 120 emperors and sultans reigned in the city. No other city in the world can claim such grandeur. During its development, the city was enlarged four times and each time the city walls were built more towards  the west. The city of Istanbul surrounded by the 5th C Roman city walls, spreads over 7 hills and the mosques built by Ottoman Sultans on these hills, adorn the city like crowns, feeling the queen city of the world. The skyline of the city appears serene, majestic and beautiful from every direction. The Golden Horn which is unusually secure natural harbor, played a very important role in the development of the city throughout its history. Istanbul is the most crowded city of Turkey. Although the area of settlement have changed significantly over the ages, due to the geography and topography of the region, the squares, avenues and monumental buildings in the city have remained in their original locations.

Content Author   : Mahmut ÖKÇESIZ
Page Editor           : Mustafa Gökhan BULUT
Published              : 26 June 2014   



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