Formerly known as Constantinople is one of the largest city in Turkey, serving as the country’s economic, cultural and historic hub. The city straddles the bosporus strait, lying both Europe and Asia. The city has over 18 million residents comprising %20 of population Turkey. Istanbul is the most populus European city and world’s 15th largest city.
The City was found as Byzantium in 7th century BCE by settlers from Megara.
Constantine the Great from Roman Empire made it his imperial city around 330 CE
In 1453 CE Ottomans conquered the city and made it Ottoman’s capital till 1923 CE.
After serving almost 1600 as an imperial capital during the Roman / Byzantine 330 – 1453 and 1453 – 1922 after the Turkish War of Independence, Ankara replaced the city as the capital of the newly formed Republic Turkey.
Turkish Ayasofya, Latin Sancta Sophia also called Church of the Holy Wisdom or Divine Wisdom. Hagia Sophia was built in 6th century CE (532 – 537) as Christian church under the rule of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Over the time it was converted to Mosque (1453) by the Fatih the Conquerer then into museum (1934) by Mustafa Kemal ATATURK, founder of Republic Turkey and back to mosque in 2020.
One of the world’s largest surviving palaces and was built 1460 – 1478 under the order of Sultan Mehmed II few years after he conquered Istanbul. Topkapi Palace served almost 400 years as home, administrative and educational headquarters for Ottoman Sultans.
30 of 36 Ottoman Sultans ruled from palace, renovating and expanding it to its current appearance. Comprising four courtyards and over 400 rooms, the palace was home to around 4000 people.
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was an area used for chariot racing throughout the Byzantine period. First built during the reign of Roman Emperor Septimus Severus in the early 3rd Century CE the Hippodrome was made more grandiose by emperor Constantine I.
Hippodrome was also used for other public events, parades, public executions.
Since such races, gladiator fights or human sacrificing were not welcomed in Ottomans, Hippodrome lost its importance. However, the oldest monument in Istanbul is located here.
Basilica Cistern or Cisterna Basilica is the largest of several hundered ancient cisterns lie beneath the Istanbul. It was built in 6th century during the reing of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
The Blue Mosque, also known by official name the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is an Ottoman era historical imperial mosque. It was constructed between 1609 – 1616 during reign of Sultan Ahmed I. It is a complex called Kulliye contains Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah a hospice. Hand painted blue tiles adorn mosque’s interior walls and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes.
Turkish and Islamic Art Museum
Turkish and Islamic Art Musuem is the first museum includes Turkish – Islamic artworks together also the last museum opened during the Ottoman Empire.
In the museum there are rare examples of Emevi, Abbasi, Artuklu, Eyyubi, Ilhanli, Memluks, Seljuk and Ottoman periods were collected from differents parts of Islamic World. The museum is famous for having the best rug collection in the World.
The Grand Bazaar is one the biggest and oldest covered markets in the World. There are 61 covered streets 4000 shops attracting around 250000 – 400000 visitors daily.
The construction had started shortly after conquest of Istanbul 1455 ended 1460 during reing of Mehmed II. His goal was to initiative to stimulate economic prosperity ın Istanbul.
Suleymaniye Mosque is an Ottoman Imperial Mosque located third hill of Istanbul. It was built by the order of Suleiman the Magnificent and designed by imperial architect Mimar Sinan between 1550 – 1557. For 462 years, Suleymaniye Mosques was the biggest mosque in the city till 2019 when Camlica Mosque built.
The design of the mosque played on Suleyman’s self conscious representation of himself as ‘second Solomon. It referenced the Dome of the Rock which was built on the site of the temple of solomon in Jerusalem as well as Justinian’s boast upon the completion of the Hagia Sophia : ‘’Solomon, I have surpassed you’’
Rustem Pasha Mosque
Named after Rustem Pasha who served as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Sultan Empire under reign of Suleiman the Magnificent I and designed by imperial architect Mimar Sinan around 1563. The mosque is located in Eminonu area close to Egyptian market or Spice Market.
Spice Market or Egyptian Bazaar located in Emionu area was built between 1660 – 1665 was first called ‘’New Bazaar’’ then it got its name ‘’Egyptian Bazaar’’ cause it was built with revenues from Ottoman eyalet of Egypt in 1660. The bazaar has 85 shops selling famous Turkish delights, other sweets, jewellery, souvenirs and dried fruits.
Dolmabahce Palace located in Besiktas district of Istanbul on the European cost of Bosporus Strait served as administrative center of Ottoman Empire from 1856 – 1922
31st Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid ordered to built Dolmabahce Palace as the medieval Topkapi Palace was lacking in contemporary style, luxury and comfort when compared European monarchs. The palace was home tos ix Ottoman Sultans from 1856 when it was first inhabited up until abolition of Caliphate in 1924
The design contains eclectic elements from Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles blended with traditional Ottoman architecture to create a new synthesis. Whereas the Topkapi Palace has exquisite examples Iznik tiles and Ottoman carving , the Dolmabahce Palace is extensively decorated with gold and crystal. Fourteen tonnes of gold were used to glid the ceilings. Over 100 KG gold was used to decorate palace. The world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier is in Cerenomial hall
Mustafa Kemal ATATURK spent the last days of his life in this palace. He died 9.05 AM on November 10 in 1938 in a bedroom located in the former harem area of the palace. All the clocks in the palace were stopped and set to 9.05 after his death.
Bosporus Strait is a natural strait an internationally significant waterway located in Istanbul Northwestern Turkey. It forms part of the continental boundary between Asia and Europe and divides Turkey by separating Anatolia from Thrace.
Bosporus is the most popular touristic site offerin touristic cruises with viewing palaces, bridges, house and local neighborhood along the waterway.
Beylerbeyi Palace is a summer residence of Ottoman Sultans located at Uskudar, Asian side of Istanbul built between 1861 – 1865. This palace was a place to entertain visiting heads of state. Empress Eugenie of France visited Palace and she was so delighted by elegance of the palace that she had copy of the window in the guest room made her bedroom in Tuileries Palace in Paris.
The Taksim Square situated in Beyoglu in the European part of Istanbul, Turkey is a mejor tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops and hotels. It is also locations of the Republic Monument which was crafted by Pietro Canonica and inaguareted in 1928. The monument commemorates the 5 th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 following the Turkish Independence War.
Taksim is a main transportation hub and popular destination for both tourists and local. Istiklal Caddesi a long pedestrian shopping Street, ends at thsi square and a nostalgic tram runs from square along the avenue ending near the Tunel 1875 which is the second oldest subway line after London’s Underground 1863.
Fener Balat Old Jewish Neighborhood
Two different neighborhoods with very different histories names of Fener and Balat have become almost interchangeable. Fener’s name comes from the Greek name ‘Fanarion’ meaning lighthouse cause Fener was a trade hub that received a lot sea traffic due to its position on the shore of Golden Horn. By conquiring Istanbul, Mehmed the conqueror declared freedom of religion for all inhabitants of new empire. Those who had left the Istanbul returned back and settled down in Fener area. Balat was a famous Jewish neighborhood even before Ottomans took over the Istanbul. The name Balat probably derived from Greek palation (palace) from Latin palatium after the nearby Palace of Blachernae. Balat first became home to large Jewish population in the late 15th Century when Sultan Beyazid II offered citizenship to Jewish and Muslims fleeing the Inquisition in Spain and Africa. Balat was to 18 synagogues though only two are still in use today (Ahrida – Yanbol Synagogues)
Kadikoy, known as Chalcedon back in Roman and Byzantine eras is a large, populous and cosmopolitan district in the Asian side Istanbul. Kadikoy is an older settlement that most those on Anatolian side of Istanbul. Chalcedon was the first settlement that Greeks from Megara established on the Bosporus in 685 BC a few years before they establisted Byzantium on the other side of the strait İn 667 BC. Chalcedon became known as the ‘city of blind’ the story being that Byzantium was founded following a prophecy that a great capital would be built ‘opposite the city of the blind’
Uskudar known as Skoutarion back in Roman era, Chrysopolis called by ancient Greek colonist Megara. Uskudar is a large and densely populated district of Istanbul – Asian Side on the Anatolian shore. As Kadikoy, Taksim and Eminonu, Uskudar is also a major transportation hub with ferries connect Asia to Europe.