Istanbul, historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the largest city of Turkey. The metropolitan province of Istanbul had 15.03 million people living in it as of December, 2018, which is 18% of Turkey’s population. When Istanbul’s Asian half is included, it is the third largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and Moscow. The latest Turkish census from 2000 counted 8.8 million residents in the city’s administrative limits. Istanbul is a megacity and 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 in 2010 and the European Capital of Sports in 2012. The historic areas of the city were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
The importance of being in Istanbul
God and human, nature and art are together 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 a 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 metropole.
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 options, 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, 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 see many monuments belonging to civilizations that had settled here. The Grand Bazaar, Nuru Osmaniye, Çemberlitas, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and the Archaeological Museum are among the major sights/attractions you may particularly enjoy seeing. After that you can cross the Golden Horn Bridge and have 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 one of Beyoğlu’s restaurants after which you can go to the Bebek coast or Arnavutkoy to enjoy magnificent and beautiful Istanbul by night.
Alternatively, you may want to drink some Turkish tea while enjoying the magnificent, expansive view at café Pierre Loti, one of Istanbul’s most tranquil and charming corners.
Eminönü is a convenient place to buy souvenirs and gifts that will remind you of your Istanbul experience. 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, on the European shore, there are popular entertainment venues such as Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme, Bebek, Tarabya and Suada whose doors are open to guests until early sunrise.