Istanbul ( , historically
also known as Byzantium and
Κωνσταντινούπολη or Constantinople; see names of
Istanbul) is the largest city in Turkey and fifth largest city
proper in the world with a population of 12.6 million.
is also a megacity, as well as the cultural
and financial centre of Turkey.
covers 39 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as
Horn, in the northwest of the country.
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.
In its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital city of the
(330–395), the Eastern Roman Empire
1261–1453), the Latin Empire
(1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire
(1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture
historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in
The modern Turkish name İstanbul
( , colloquially
) has been used to describe this city, in a range of different
variants, from as far back as the 10th
; it has been the common name for the city in normal
Turkish speech since before the conquest of 1453
, it derives from the Greek
phrase or in the Aegean dialect (modern
Greek "στην Πόλη" ), which means "in the city", "to the city" or
"downtown". To this day, Greeks often refer to Istanbul as 'tin
Poli' (the City). A version found in Western languages,
, was used in lieu of Istanbul until the creation
of the modern Turkish language
that time, English-speaking sources used Stamboul to
describe the central parts on the historic peninsula between the
Horn and the Sea of Marmara.
In modern Turkish
the name is
written "İstanbul" with a dotted İ; in the Turkish alphabet
dotted i (with capital İ)
is a different letter from dotless
(with capital I). Also, while in English the stress is on the
first syllable ("Is"), in Turkish it is on the second syllable
is the first known name of the
667 B.C., this Doric colony was founded by
settlers from the city-state of Megara, and they
named the colony after their king Byzas. After Roman emperor Constantine I (Constantine the Great) made the
city the new eastern capital of the Roman
Empire on May 11, 330, the city became widely known as Constantinople ("City of Constantine"); his successor Constantius II attempted to promote the name
Nova Roma ("New Rome"), but this never caught on.
The name Constantinople is found on commemorative coins as early as
the 330s, and is first attested in official documents under emperor
(408–450). It remained
the principal official name of the city throughout the Byzantine
period, and the most common name used for it in the West until the
early 20th century.
The city has also been nicknamed "The City on
" because the historic peninsula
, the oldest part of the city,
was built on seven hills (just like Rome), each of which bears a
. The hills are represented in
the city's emblem with seven triangles, above which rise four
. Two of many other old nicknames of
İstanbul are Vasilevousa Polis
(the Queen of
), which rose from the city's importance and wealth
throughout the Middle Ages
, originally Der-i Saadet
) which was first used towards the end of 19th
century and is still remembered today.
With the Turkish Postal Service
Law of 28 March
1930, the Turkish authorities officially requested foreigners to
adopt Istanbul as the sole name also in their own languages.
during the construction works of the Yenikapı subway station and the Marmaray tunnel at the historic peninsula on the European side, a previously unknown Neolithic settlement dating from circa 6500 BC was discovered.
on the Anatolian side,
the Fikirtepe mound, is from the Copper
period, with artifacts dating from 5500–3500 BC.
Kadıköy (Chalcedon) a port settlement dating back to the Phoenicians has been discovered. Cape Moda in
Chalcedon was the first location which the Greek settlers from Megara chose to
colonize in 685 BC, prior to colonizing
Byzantion on the European side of the
Bosphorus under the command of King Byzas in
Byzantion was established on
the site of an ancient port settlement named Lygos
founded by Thracian
tribes between the
13th and 11th centuries
BC, along with
the neighbouring Semistra
, of which Pliny
had mentioned in his historical
accounts. Only a few walls and substructures belonging
to Lygos have survived to date, near the Seraglio Point ( ), where the famous Topkapı
Palace now stands.
During the period of Byzantion,
used to stand where the
Topkapı Palace stands today.
After siding with Pescennius Niger
against the victorious Roman emperor
, the city was
besieged by the Romans
extensive damage in 196 AD
. Byzantium was
rebuilt by Severus
regained its previous prosperity, being temporarily renamed as
by the emperor, in honour of his
location of Byzantium attracted Constantine I in 324 after a
prophetic dream was said to have identified the location of the
city; but the true reason behind this prophecy was probably
Constantine's final victory over Licinius
at the Battle of Chrysopolis
(Üsküdar) on the Bosphorus, on 18 September, 324, which
ended the civil war between the Roman Co-Emperors, and brought an
end to the final vestiges of the Tetrarchy
system, during which Nicomedia (present-day İzmit, east of
Istanbul) was the most senior Roman capital city.
renamed as Nova Roma
eventually became Constantinopolis
, i.e. "The City of
Constantine") was officially proclaimed the new capital of the
six years later, in 330.
Following the death of Theodosius I
395 and the permanent partition of the Roman Empire between his two
sons, Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire
. As well as being the
centre of an imperial dynasty, the unique position of
Constantinople at the centre of two continents made the city a
magnet for international commerce
Byzantine Empire was distinctly Greek in culture and became the
centre of Greek Orthodox
Christianity, while its capital was adorned with many
magnificent churches, including
Sophia, once the world's largest cathedral. The seat of the Patriarch of
Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, still
remains in the Fener (Phanar)
district of Istanbul.
the Fourth Crusade was launched to
capture Jerusalem, but had instead turned on Constantinople, which
was sacked and desecrate.
city subsequently became the centre of the Catholic Latin Empire
, created by the crusaders to
replace the Orthodox Byzantine Empire, which was divided into a
number of splinter states, of which the Empire of Nicaea
was to recapture
Constantinople in 1261 under the command of Michael VIII Palaeologus
In the last decades of the Byzantine Empire, the city had decayed
as the Byzantine state became increasingly isolated and financially
, its population had dwindled to
some thirty or forty thousand people whilst large sections remained
uninhabited. Due to the ever increasing inward turn the Byzantines
took, many facets of their surrounding empire were now falling
apart, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Ottoman Turks began a strategy by which they
took selected towns and smaller cities over time, enveloping
Bursa in 1326, İzmit (Nicomedia)
in 1337, Gelibolu (Gallipoli) in 1354, and
finally Edirne (Adrianople)
This essentially cut off Constantinople from its
main supply routes, strangling it slowly.
On 29 May 1453, Sultan Mehmed II
after a 53-day siege
(during which the last Roman/Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI
, died near the Porta Aurea
defending the city) and proclaimed that Constantinople was now the
new capital of the Ottoman Empire
Mehmed's first duty was to rejuvenate the city economically, creating the Grand
Bazaar and inviting the fleeing Orthodox and Catholic
inhabitants to return. Captured prisoners were freed to settle in
the city whilst provincial governors in Rumelia and Anatolia were ordered to send four thousand families to
settle in the city, whether Muslim, Christian or Jew, to form a
unique cosmopolitan society. The Sultan also endowed the city with
various architectural monuments, including the Topkapı
Palace and the Eyüp Sultan Mosque. Religious foundations were established to
fund the construction of grand imperial mosques (such as the
Fatih Mosque which was built on the
spot where the Church of the Holy Apostles once stood), adjoined by their associated schools,
hospitals and public baths.
Suleiman the Magnificent
reign of the Ottoman Empire
to 1566 was a period of great artistic and architectural
achievements. The famous architect Sinan
designed many mosques and other grand buildings in the city, while
Ottoman arts of ceramics
Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the
capital was moved from Istanbul to Ankara.
the early years of the republic, Istanbul was overlooked in favour
of the new capital. However, starting from the late 1940s and
early 1950s, Istanbul underwent great structural change, as new
public squares (such as Taksim Square), boulevards and avenues were constructed throughout the
city; sometimes at the expense of the demolition of many historical
buildings. Starting from the 1970s, the population of
Istanbul began to rapidly increase, as people from Anatolia migrated to the city in order to find employment in
the many new factories that were constructed at the outskirts of
the sprawling metropolis.
This sudden sharp rise in the
city's population caused a large demand for housing development
, and many previously
outlying villages and forests became engulfed into the greater
Illegal construction, combined with corner-cutting methods, have
accounted for the reason why 65% of the buildings in Istanbul are
built without proper planning. The concerns have increased due to the
serious nature of the Izmit earthquake of August 17, 1999.
On September 9
, the city
Istanbul is located in the north-west Marmara Region
of Turkey. It encloses the
southern Bosporus which places the city on two continents—the
western portion of Istanbul is in Europe
while the eastern portion is in Asia
boundaries cover a surface area of , while the metropolitan region,
or the Province of
Istanbul, covers .
is situated near the North
Anatolian fault line, which runs from northern Anatolia to the Marmara Sea.
, the African and the Eurasian, push against each other
here. This fault line
responsible for several deadly earthquakes in the region throughout
history. In 1509 a catastrophic earthquake caused a tsunami
which broke over the sea-walls of the city,
destroying over 100 mosques and killing 10,000 people. In
1766 the Eyüp Sultan Mosque was largely destroyed. The 1894 earthquake
caused the collapse of many parts of the Grand
Bazaar. A devastating earthquake
on August 17, 1999, with its epicenter in nearby İzmit, left 18,000
dead and many more homeless.
In all of these earthquakes,
the devastating effects are a result of the building density and
poor construction of buildings. Seismologists
predict another earthquake,
possibly measuring magnitude
7.0, occurring before 2025.
like the Marmara
region it is situated in has a temperate climate.
But due to
Istanbul's geographical location and longitude, it has a
"transitional climate", midway between that of the oceanic climate
of the Black Sea, the
humid continental climate
of the Balkan peninsula
and the dry suptropical climate
southwest. This is also reflected in its plant geography since
flora of these three climate types flourish here. Istanbul is one
of the provinces that best illustrates this aspect of the Marmara
region. Thanks to the constantly very humid climate
of Istanbul, plants of the European-Siberian
ecoregion are concentrated here, especially in the northern
areas near the Black
Sea coast. An increase in mediterranean flora is
observed in the warmer areas to the south of the city especially on
Islands, the only place in Istanbul with a predominantly
Istanbul’s true and dominant biome
broadleaf and mixed forest
and constitute the Balkan mixed forests
which belongs to
of the Palearctic
. According to the Turkish General Directorate of
Forestry, 44% of the Province of Istanbul is covered with
The Alemdağ forest on the Anatolian side and the Belgrade forest on
the European side, which are regarded as the city's lungs, are
, humid mixed-leaf
forests. It is also possible to see examples of virgin forest in
the heart of Istanbul, on both shores of the Bosphorus today. The
dominant tree species is the oak
, three species
of which are the English Oak
, Sessile Oak
or Durmast Oak, and Hungarian Oak
are spread over a broad area.
is observed in the
northern areas near the Black Sea coast. Other common tree species
living in these humid mixed-leaf forests include Oriental Hornbeam
, Horse Chestnut
, Sweet Chestnut
, Oriental Plane
, Black Alder
, Common Hazel
, Sycamore Maple
, Norway Maple
, English Elm
, European White Elm
, Smooth-leaved Elm
, Field Elm
, Goat Willow
and Grey Willow
With around 2500 different natural plant species, Istanbul alone
puts entire European countries, such as the United Kingdom in the
shade. Even more importantly, this means that Istanbul is home to
approximately one-fourth of the more than ten thousand documented
species of plants that grow naturally in Turkey. Some of these
plants are endemic; in other words, they live only in Istanbul and
nowhere else in the whole world.
Istanbul has a relatively rich fauna. The forests harbor 18 mammal
species and over 71 bird species, and since a ban on hunting
exists, the fauna is out of danger. In the forests the most common
mammals are wild boar
, gray wolf
, red fox
, fallow deer
, and roe deer
. The red
only inhabits the European part of Istanbul and
Turkey, and the Bosphorus marks the border of their habitat
The dominant bird species in the city are the common gull
and the hooded crow
, and both practically form a part of
the cityscape. Other common bird species are the city pigeon
, eurasian collared dove
Istanbul has a particularly large population of stray cats
and stray dogs
has a temperate climate but is located
within a climatic transition zone between oceanic and dry subtropical climates.
Snow is common in winter.
In summer the weather in Istanbul
is hot and humid, the temperature between June and September
averaging . During winter it is cold, wet and often snowy,
averaging . The humidity of the city is constantly high which makes
the air feel much harsher than the actual temperatures. The city
being located in the second most humid region of the country, has
an average annual humidity of 79%.Average annual precipitation is .
Summer is the driest season, although there is no real summer
drought as rain does occur all year round, and so the climate is
not mediterranean. Snowfall is quite common between the months of
December and March, snowing for a week or two, but it can be heavy
once it snows. The city is also quite windy, having an average
Province has 39 district (2009), of which 27
form the city proper of Istanbul, also called Greater Istanbul, administered by the
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (or Municipality of
Metropolitan Istanbul) ( ).
City limits in 1922.
Istanbul's districts are
divided into three main areas:
historic peninsula of old Istanbul corresponds
approximately to the extent of Constantinople in the 15th century;
it comprises the districts of Eminönü and Fatih.
lies on the southern shores of the Golden Horn, which separates the old city center from the
northern and younger parts of the European side.
historic peninsula ends with the Theodosian Land Walls in the west. The peninsula is surrounded by the
Marmara on the south and the entrance of the Bosphorus on the east.
of the Golden Horn are the historical Beyoğlu and Beşiktaş districts, where the last Sultan's palace is located, followed by a chain of former villages
such as Ortaköy and Bebek along the
shores of the Bosphorus. On both the European and Asian
sides of the Bosphorus, wealthy Istanbulites built luxurious chalet
mansions, called yalı, which were used as summer
districts of Üsküdar (ancient Chrysopolis) and Kadıköy (ancient Chalcedon) which are located on the Asian side were
originally separate cities (like the district of Beyoğlu (medieval Pera) on the
European side also used to be.) These cities have eventually been
absorbed by Istanbul and have become its districts. Today,
the Asian side of the city has numerous modern residential areas
and business districts, and is home to around one-third of
To the west, to the east and to the north, Istanbul extends far
beyond its historical quarters. The tallest office and residential towers
rise particularly in the quarters of Levent, Etiler and
Maslak on the European side, and in the
quarter of Kozyatağı on the Asian side.
The urban landscape of Istanbul is constantly changing.
Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods, the city was largely made up of
the historic peninsula of Constantinople; with the citadel of Galata (also
called Sykae or Pera,
present-day Beyoğlu) at north; and Chrysopolis (Üsküdar) and Chalcedon (Kadıköy) at east, across the Bosphorus.
These were all independent cities in
antiquity. The present-day City of Istanbul can be considered the
metropolitan area of old Constantinople, encompassing every single
settlement around the original city, and expanding even further
with the establishment of new neighbourhoods and districts since
the 19th century.
early 19th century, the city walls of Galata, the
medieval Genoese citadel, used to stand. These Genoese
fortifications, of which only the Galata Tower and a small portion of the citadel walls around it
stand today, were largely demolished in the early 1800s to give way
for a northwards expansion of the city, towards the neighbourhoods
of Beşiktaş, Şişli, Nişantaşı, and beyond.
In the recent decades, numerous tall
were built around the city to accommodate a rapid
growth in population. Surrounding towns were absorbed into Istanbul
as the city rapidly expanded outwards. The tallest highrise
office and residential buildings are mostly located in the northern
areas of the European side, especially in the business and shopping
districts of Levent, Maslak, and Mecidiyeköy which are situated between the Bosphorus
Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. Levent and Etiler also have numerous
upmarket shopping malls, like Kanyon, Metrocity, Akmerkez, Mayadrom and Mayadrom Uptown.
headquarters of Turkey's largest companies and banks are also
located in this area.
Starting from the second half of the 20th century, the Anatolian
(Asian) side of Istanbul, which was originally a tranquil place
full of seaside summer residences and elegant chalet mansions
surrounded by lush and vast umbrella
gardens, experienced a massive urban growth. The
construction of the long, wide and elegant Bağdat Avenue
, with its rows of upscale
shops and restaurants, contributed much to the initial urban
expansion in the area. The fact that these areas were largely empty
until the 1960s also provided the chance for developing better
infrastructure and a tidier urban
when compared with most other residential areas in the
city. But the real expansion of the Asian side came with the
opening of the Ankara Asfaltı
, the Asian extension of the
E5 highway, which is located to the north of Bağdat Avenue,
parallel to the railway line. Another important factor in the recent
growth of the Asian side of the city was migration from Anatolia.
Today, more than 1/3 of the city's
residents live in the Asian side of Istanbul.
result of Istanbul's exponential growth during the second half of
the 20th century, a significant portion of the city's outskirts
consist of gecekondus, a Turkish
word created in the 1940s meaning ‘built overnight’ and referring
to the illegally constructed squatter buildings that comprise
entire neighbourhoods and run rampant outside the historic centers
of Turkey's largest cities, especially Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and Bursa.
present, some gecekondu areas are being gradually demolished and
replaced by modern mass-housing compounds.
Throughout its long history, Istanbul has acquired a reputation for
being a cultural and ethnic melting pot
As a result, there are many historical mosques, churches,
synagogues, palaces, castles and towers to visit in the city. Some
of these historical structures, which draw millions to the city
every year, reflect the heart and soul of Istanbul.
Ancient Greek and Roman
Tower, one of the symbols of Istanbul, was originally
built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in
408 BC to control the movements of the
Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait.
the most important monuments of Roman
architecture in the city is the Column of
Constantine ( ), which was erected in 330 by Constantine the Great for marking the
declaration of the new capital city of the Roman Empire.
Roman era structures in the city include
the Mazulkemer Aqueduct, the Valens Aqueduct, the Column of the
Goths at the Seraglio Point, the Milion which
served for calculating the distances between Constantinople and the
other cities of the Roman Empire, the Great Palace
of Constantinople originally built by Constantine as the primary
residence of the Roman emperors, and the Hippodrome
of Constantinople that was built following the model of the Circus
Maximus in Rome.
Construction of the Walls of
Constantinople began under Constantine the Great, who enlarged the
previously existing walls of Byzantium in order to defend the new
Roman capital city which quickly grew following its proclamation as
A new set of walls was built further west during
the reign of Theodosius II
rebuilt after an earthquake in 447 in their current shape.
Marcian ( ) erected by Marcianus
(reigned 450–457) dates from the same period as the triple land
walls of Theodosius II.
followed the classical Roman model of domes and arches, but further
improved these architectural concepts, as evidenced with the 4th
Irene built by Constantine
as the first church in the new Roman capital city; and the 6th
century churches of Saints Sergius and Bacchus and Hagia
Sophia built by Justinian, the
latter being the largest structure on Sultanahmet Square in the
Eminönü district, and the most important surviving example
of Byzantine architecture in the world.
Excavations at the substructures of the
Palace of Constantinople, which is located right next to the Hagia Sophia,
are still continuing; while its floor mosaics and wall decorations
are displayed at the Great
Palace Mosaic Museum.
In a nearby location, the
of the Great Palace still stands and is
another site of continuing archaeological excavations. The Great
Palace was originally built by Constantine, but it was continuously
enlarged by the following Byzantine emperors, in particular by
Justinian. The Boukoleon Palace, alternatively known as the Palace of
Hormisdas, was built by Theodosius
II in the 5th century, enlarged by Theophilos in the 9th century, and
incorporated into the new walls of the Great Palace by Nikephoros II Phokas in the 10th
century. The eastern tribune of the Hippodrome
of Constantinople, where the Kathisma (emperor's loge) was
located, could also be directly accessed by the Byzantine emperors and members of the
imperial family through a passage which connected it with the Great
Sophia was designed by Isidorus and Anthemius as the third church to rise
on this location, between 532 and 537, following the Nika riots (532) during which the second church
was destroyed (the first church, known as the Megala
Ekklessia ("Great Church") was inaugurated by Constantius II in 360; the second church was
inaugurated by Theodosius II in 405, while the third and current
one was inaugurated Justinian in 537). The Church of
Saints Sergius and Bacchus (commonly known as the Little Hagia
Sophia), which was the first church built by Justinian in
Constantinople and edificed between 527 and 536, had earlier
signaled such an improvement in the design of domed buildings,
which require complex solutions for carrying the structure.
Irene (which was originally built by Constantine in the
4th century, but was later enlarged by Justinian in the 6th
century) and the Basilica
Cistern are also from this period.
surviving Byzantine church in Istanbul that has preserved its
original form through the centuries, though partially in ruins, is
the Stoudios Monastery
, which was built in
extant Byzantine structures that have survived from the reign of
Heraclius (610–641) are the Prisons of
Anemas, which were incorporated into the city walls at the
western suburb of Blachernae.
They form a huge castle-like structure with
several towers and a network of underground Byzantine dungeons.
the Porphyrogenitus ( ), which is the only surviving part of the
Palace, dates from the period of the Fourth Crusade. The Boukoleon
Palace facing the Sea of Marmara was the primary residence of the Latin emperors of
Constantinople between 1204 and 1261. In these years, on
the northern side of the Golden Horn, the Dominican priests of the Catholic Church built
the Church of
Saint Paul in
Following the reconquest of Constantinople from the Latin Crusaders
in 1261, the Byzantine emperors almost completely abandoned the
Great Palace and Boukoleon Palace, and moved to the Blachernae
Palace in the west of the city, near the triple land walls.
important churches that were built after the Byzantines recovered
Constantinople in 1261 include the Pammakaristos Church and Chora
Church. Also in this period, the Genoese Podestà of Galata, Montano de
Marinis, built the Palazzo del Comune (1316), an identical
copy of the San Giorgio Palace in Genoa, which
still stands in ruins on Banker Sokağı (the historic
Rue Camondo), a parallel side
street to the north of Bankalar Caddesi in Galata, together with its adjacent buildings and
numerous Genoese houses from the early 1300s. The Genoese also
built the Galata
Tower, which they named as Christea Turris
(Tower of Christ), at the highest point of the citadel of Galata,
in 1348. The Genoese Castle at the Black
Sea entrance of the Bosporus was originally built by the
Ottoman Turks built the Anadoluhisarı on the Asian side of the Bosphorus in 1394, and the
Rumelihisarı at the opposite (European) shore, in 1452, a year
before the conquest of Constantinople. The main purpose of these castles, armed
with the long range Balyemez (Faule Metze)
cannons, was to block the sea traffic of the Bosphorus and prevent
the support ships from the Genoese
colonies on the Black
Sea ports, such as Caffa, Sinop, and Amasra, from
reaching Constantinople and helping the Byzantines during the
Turkish siege of the city. The first mosque on the European side of
Istanbul was built inside the Rumeli Castle in 1452.
the Ottoman conquest of the city, Sultan Mehmed II initiated a wide scale reconstruction
plan, which included the construction of grand buildings such as
Palace, Grand Bazaar and the Yedikule Castle
which guarded the main entrance gate of the city, the Porta
Aurea (Golden Gate).
grand mosque which was built in the city proper was the Eyüp Sultan
Mosque in around 1459.
The mosque was built on the
site of the grave of Abu Ayyub
, a companion of the Prophet
who had died outside the land walls of Constantinople
(walls of Theodosius II) in 669, during the early skirmishes which
preluded the Arab siege
the city. The first imperial mosque inside the
walls was the Fatih Mosque
(1470) which was built on the site of the Church of
the Holy Apostles, an important Byzantine church originally edificed in the
time of Constantine the Great.
other imperial mosques were built in the following centuries, such
as the famous Süleymaniye Mosque (1557) which was ordered by Suleiman the Magnificent and
designed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan,
and the famous Sultan Ahmet Mosque (1616) which is also known as the Blue
Mosque for the blue tiles that adorn its
interior. In the centuries following Mehmed II, many
new important buildings, such as the Süleymaniye
Mosque, Sultanahmet Mosque, Yeni Mosque and numerous others were constructed.
18th and 19th centuries, traditional Ottoman architectural styles were gradually
replaced by European styles, such as the Baroque style interiors of the Aynalıkavak Palace
(1677–1679) and Nuruosmaniye Mosque (1748–1755, the first Baroque style mosque in the
city, also famous for its Baroque fountain), and the 18th century
Baroque additions to the Harem section of the Topkapı
Palace. Following the Tanzimat reforms which effectively started Turkey's
Europeanization process in 1839, new palaces and mosques were built
in Neoclassical, Baroque and Rococo styles, or
an eclectic mix of all three, such as
Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and Ortaköy Mosque.
Starting from the early 19th century, the areas around İstiklal Avenue
were filled with
grandiose embassy buildings belonging to prominent European states,
and rows of European (mostly Neoclassical and later Art Nouveau
) style buildings started to appear
on both flanks of the avenue. Istanbul was one of the major centers of the
Art Nouveau (Liberty) movement in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries, with famous architects of this style such as Alexander Vallaury and Raimondo D'Aronco building many
palaces and mansions in the city proper and on the Princes'
D'Aronco's most important works in the city
include several buildings of the Yıldız Palace
complex, and the
on İstiklal Avenue. The famous
Camondo Stairs on Bankalar
Caddesi (Banks Street) in Karaköy (Galata) is also a
beautiful example of Art Nouveau architecture. Other important
examples are the Khedive
Palace (Hıdiv Kasrı) on the Asian side of the
Bosphorus, Flora Han in Sirkeci, and Frej Apartmanı in the Şişhane quarter
of Istanbul, currently Kadir Topbaş
, serves as the prefect
of the city. The governor
of Istanbul province is Muammer Güler
Istanbul is a home rule
municipal elections are mainly partisan
. The metropolitan model of
governance has been used with the establishment of metropolitan
administration in 1930. The metropolitan council is responsible for
all authority when it comes to making city decisions.
The metropolitan government structure consists of three main
organs: (1) The Metropolitan Mayor (elected every five years), (2)
The Metropolitan Council (decision making body with the mayor,
district Mayors, and one fifth of the district municipal
councillors), (3) The metropolitan executive committee. There are
three types of local authorities: (1) municipalities, (2) special
provincial administrations, (3) village administrations. Among the
local authorities, municipalities are gaining greater importance
with the rise in urbanization.
current Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Hall building in
the Saraçhane quarter of the Fatih district,
the construction of which began on December 17, 1953 and was
completed and inaugurated on May 26, 1960, will soon be demolished
and replaced by a new building, designed by Istanbul-based Arolat
The population of the metropolis more than tripled during the 25
years between 1980 and 2005. Roughly 70% of all Istanbulites live
in the European section and around 30% in the Asian section. Due to
high unemployment in the southeast of Turkey, many people from that
region migrated to Istanbul, where they established themselves in
the outskirts of the city. Migrants, predominantly from eastern
Anatolia arrive in Istanbul expecting improved living conditions
and employment, which usually end with little success. This results
each year with new gecekondus
outskirts of the city, which are later developed into
neighbourhoods and integrated into the greater metropolis.
The city has a population of 11,372,613 residents according to
the latest count as of 2007, and is one of the largest cities in the world
today. The rate of population growth in the city is currently at
3.45% a year on average, mainly due to the influx of people from
the surrounding rural areas. Istanbul's population density of
2,742 people per square mile (1,700 per square km
) far exceeds Turkey's 130 people
per square mile (81 people per square km). Most of the city’s
population are ethnic Turks
now constitute the largest ethnic minority in the city. There are
several million Kurdish
from the countryside in Istanbul.
Historically the city was, during the early Middle Ages
, the largest city in the world, and
has been one of the world's largest and most important cities
during much of its history (excepting the period of collapse of the
Eastern Roman, or Byzantine
before the Ottomans
geopolitical significance since ancient times brought
representatives of ethnic groups from all over Europe, Asia, and
Africa. Throughout its history the ethnic Greek
populations have assimilated these groups
throughout the city's history.
The following overview shows the numbers of inhabitants by year.
Population tallies up to 1914 are estimated with variations of up
to 50% depending upon researcher. The numbers from 1927 to 2000 are
results of censuses. The numbers of 2005 and 2006 are based on
The doubling of the population of Istanbul between 1980 and 1985 is
due to a natural increase
population as well as the expansion of municipal limits.
The urban landscape of Istanbul is shaped by many communities. The
religion with the largest community of followers is Islam
. Religious minorities include Greek Orthodox Christians
, Armenian Christians
, Catholic Levantines
and Sephardic Jews
to the 2000 census, there were 2,691 active mosques
, 123 active churches
and 26 active synagogues
in Istanbul; as well as 109 Muslim
cemeteries and 57 non-Muslim cemeteries. Some districts used
to have sizeable populations of these ethnic groups, such as the Kumkapı district which had a sizeable Armenian population, the Balat district which had a sizeable Jewish population, the Fener district
which had a sizeable Greek population, and
some neighbourhoods in the Nişantaşı and Beyoğlu districts which had sizeable Levantine populations.
Very few remain in
these aforementioned districts as they either emigrated or moved to
other districts. In some quarters, such as Kuzguncuk, an Armenian church sits next to a synagogue, and
on the other side of the road a Greek Orthodox church is found
beside a mosque.
seat of the Patriarch of
Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church and first
patriarch of the Eastern
Orthodox communion, is located in the Fener (Phanar)
Also based in Istanbul are the archbishop of the
and the Turkish Grand-Rabbi
. A number of places
reflect past movements of different communities into Istanbul, most
notably Arnavutköy (Albanian village), Polonezköy (Polish village) and Yenibosna (New
The Muslims are by far the largest religious group
in Istanbul. Among
them, the Sunnis
form the most populous
sect, while a number of the local Muslims are Alevis
. In 2007 there were 2,944 active mosques in
was the final seat of the Islamic
Caliphate, between 1517 and 1924, when the Caliphate was
dissolved and its powers were handed over to the Turkish
On September 2, 1925, the tekkes
banned, as their activities were deemed incompatible with the
characteristics of the secular democratic
Republic of Turkey; particularly with
the secular education
state's control over
religious affairs through the Religious Affairs
. Most followers of Sufism
other forms of Islamic mysticism practiced clandestinely
afterwards, and some of these sects still boast numerous followers.
In order to avoid the still valid prohibition, these organisations
represent themselves as "cultural associations."
has been the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the 4th century
AD, and continues to serve as the seat of some other Orthodox
churches, such as the Turkish Orthodox
Church and the Armenian
The city was formerly also the seat of the
, before its
autocephaly was recognized by other Orthodox churches.
The everyday life of the Christians, particularly the Greeks
living in Istanbul changed
significantly following the bitter conflicts between these ethnic
groups and the Turks during the fall of the Ottoman Empire
, which began in the 1820s and
continued for a century. The conflicts reached their culmination in
the decade between 1912 and 1922; during the Balkan Wars
, the First
and the Turkish War of Independence
Christian population declined from 450,000 to 240,000 between 1914
and 1927. Today, most of Turkey's remaining Greek and Armenian
minorities live in or near Istanbul. The number of the
local Turkish Armenians in Istanbul today amount to approximately
45,000 (not including the nearly 40,000 Armenian workers in Turkey
who came from Armenia after 1991 and mostly live and work in Istanbul);
while the Greek community, which amounted to 150,000 citizens in
1924, currently amounts to approximately 4,000 citizens.
also 60,000 Istanbulite Greeks who currently live in Greece but
continue to retain their Turkish citizenship.
The Sephardic Jews
have lived in the city for over 500 years. They fled the
Peninsula during the Spanish Inquisition of 1492, when they
were forced to convert to Christianity after the fall of the
Kingdom of Andalucia.
Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II (1481–1512) sent a sizable fleet to
Spain under the
command of Kemal Reis in order to save
the Sephardic Jews. More than 200,000 fled first to Tangier, Algiers, Genova and
Marseille, later to Salonica and finally to Istanbul.
The Sultan granted
over 93,000 of these Spanish Jews
to take refuge in
the Ottoman Empire. Another large group of Sephardic Jews came
from southern Italy which was
under Spanish control. The İtalyan Sinagogu (Italian
Synagogue) in Galata is mostly
frequented by the descendants of these Italian Jews in Istanbul, where more than
20,000 Sephardic Jews still remain today. There are about 20
synagogues, the most important of them being the Neve
Shalom Synagogue inaugurated in 1951, in the Beyoğlu quarter.
Apart from being the largest city and former political capital of
the country, Istanbul has always been the center of Turkey's
economic life because of its location as a junction of
international land and sea trade routes
Istanbul is also Turkey's largest industrial center. It employs
approximately 20% of Turkey's industrial labor and contributes 38%
of Turkey's industrial workspace. Istanbul and its surrounding
province produce cotton
, olive oil
, and tobacco
processing, textile production, oil products, rubber, metal ware,
leather, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, glass, machinery,
automotive, transport vehicles, paper and paper products, and
are among the
city's major industrial products. According to Forbes
magazine, Istanbul had a total of 35
billionaires as of March 2008, ranking fourth in the world.
Originally established as the Ottoman Stock Exchange (Dersaadet
) in 1866, and reorganized to its current
structure at the beginning of 1986, the Istanbul Stock Exchange
(ISE) is the
sole securities market
the 19th and early 20th centuries, Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street) in Galata was the
financial center of the Ottoman
Empire, where the headquarters of the Ottoman Central Bank
(established as the Bank-ı Osmanî in 1856, and later
reorganized as the Bank-ı Osmanî-i Şahane in 1863) and the
Ottoman Stock Exchange (1866) were located. Bankalar Caddesi
continued to be Istanbul's main financial district until the 1990s,
when most Turkish banks began moving their headquarters to the
modern central business
districts of Levent and
Maslak. In 1995, the
Istanbul Stock Exchange moved to its current building in the
Today, the city generates 55% of Turkey's trade and 45% of the
trade, and generates
21.2% of Turkey's gross national
. Istanbul contributes 40% of all taxes collected in
Turkey and produces 27.5% of Turkey's national product. In 2005 the
City of Istanbul had a GDP
$133 billion. In 2005 companies based in Istanbul made exports
worth $41,397,000,000 and imports
worth $69,883,000,000; which corresponded to
56.6% and 60.2% of Turkey's exports and imports, respectively, in
Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots of Turkey.
There are thousands of hotels
other tourist oriented industries in the city, catering to both
and visiting professionals.
a total of 23,148,669 tourists visited Turkey, most of whom entered
the country through the airports and seaports of Istanbul and
Antalya. The total number of tourists who entered
Turkey through Atatürk International
Airport and Sabiha Gökçen International
Airport in Istanbul reached 5,346,658, rising from
4,849,353 in 2005.
Istanbul is also one of the world's major
conference destinations and is an increasingly popular choice for
the world's leading international associations.
Istanbul holds some of the finest institutions of higher education
in Turkey, including more
than 20 public and private
. Most of the reputable universities are public,
but in recent years there has also been an upsurge in the number of
private universities. Istanbul University, founded in 1453, is the oldest Turkish educational
institution in the city, while Istanbul
Technical University (1773) is the world's third-oldest technical university dedicated
entirely to engineering sciences. Other prominent
state universities in Istanbul include Boğaziçi
University, Mimar Sinan University of
Fine Arts, Yildiz Technical University and Marmara
University. The major private universities in the city
University, Sabancı University, Istanbul
Commerce University, Bahçeşehir University,
Yeditepe University, Kadir Has University, Doğuş University and Bilgi University.
Almost all Turkish private high schools and universities in
Istanbul teach in English, German or French as the primary foreign
language, usually accompanied by a secondary foreign language.
Galatasaray Lisesi, established in 1481 as Galata Sarayı Enderun-u
Hümayunu (Galata Palace Imperial School) and later
known as Galatasaray Mekteb-i Sultanisi (Galatasaray
School of the Sultans) is the oldest Turkish high school in
Istanbul and the second oldest Turkish educational institution in
the city. İstanbul Lisesi, also commonly known as İstanbul Erkek Lisesi
(established in 1884), abbreviated İEL, is one of the oldest and
internationally renowned high schools of
Turkey located in İstanbul. Kuleli Military High School is
the only military high school in
Istanbul, located in Çengelköy district.
(Anatolian High Schools) were originally
furnished for the Turkish children who returned home from foreign
countries, such as the Üsküdar Anadolu Lisesi with German as the
primary foreign language and technical instruction in German.
is one of the first six special Ministry of Education
Colleges established in 1950s in big cities across Turkey. Those
English-medium colleges were renamed as "Anadolu Lisesi" in
subsequent decades. There are also many foreign high schools in
Istanbul, most of which were established in the 19th century in
order to give education to the foreigners residing in Istanbul.
Following the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, most of these schools went under the
administration of the Turkish Ministry of Education, but some of
them still have considerable foreign administration, such as the
Liceo Italiano Statale I.M.I.
which is still regarded as an Italian state
school by the government of Italy and continues to receive funding and teachers from
Rome. Robert College, established in 1863, is another foreign school in
the city, among numerous others.
Istanbul has numerous libraries, many of which contain vast
collections of historic documents from the Roman, Byzantine and
Ottoman periods, as well as from other civilizations of the past.
important libraries in terms of historic document collections
include the Topkapı Palace Library, Library of the Archaeological Museum, Library of the Naval Museum, Beyazıt State
Library, Nuruosmaniye Library, Süleymaniye Library, Istanbul
University Library, Köprülüzade Fazıl Ahmed Paşa Library, Atatürk
Library and Çelik Gülersoy Library.
The city has many public and private hospitals, clinics and
within its bounds and
numerous medical research
these facilities have high technology
equipment, which has contributed to the recent upsurge in "medical tourism" to Istanbul, particularly
from West European countries like the United Kingdom and Germany where governments send patients with lower income
to the city for the inexpensive service of high-tech medical
treatment and operations.
Istanbul has particularly become a
global destination for laser eye surgery
and plastic surgery
. The city also
has an Army Veterans Hospital in the military medical center.
Pollution-related health problems increase especially in the
winter, when the combustion of heating fuels increase. The rising
number of new cars in the city and the slow development of public transportation
often cause urban
conditions. Mandatory use of unleaded gas
was scheduled to begin only in January 2006.
The first water supply
were built in Istanbul date back to the foundation of the city.
the greatest aqueducts built in the Roman
period are the Mazulkemer Aqueduct and the Valens
These aqueducts were built in order to
channel water from the Halkalı area in the western edge of the city
to the Beyazıt district in the city center, which was known as the
in the Roman period. After reaching the
city center, the water was later collected in the city's numerous
cisterns, such as the famous Philoxenos
(Binbirdirek) Cistern and the Basilica Cistern.
Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent
, his engineer and
architect-in-chief, to improve the water needs of the city. Sinan
constructed the Kırkçeşme Water
in 1555. In later years, with the aim of responding
to the ever-increasing public demand, water from various springs
was channeled to the public fountains by means of small supply
lines; see German
Today, Istanbul has a chlorinated and filtered water supply and a
system managed by
the government agency İSKİ. There are also several private sector
organizations distributing clean
services are covered by the state-owned
TEK. The first electricity
production plant in the city, Silahtarağa Termik Santrali
was established in 1914 and continued to supply electricity until
The Ottoman Ministry of Post and Telegraph was established in the
city on 23 October 1840. The first post office was the
Postahane-i Amire near the courtyard of Yeni
In 1876 the first international mailing
network between Istanbul and the lands beyond the vast Ottoman Empire
was established. In 1901 the
first money transfers were made through the post offices
and the first cargo services became
operational. Samuel Morse
received his first ever patent for the telegraph in 1847, at the old Beylerbeyi Palace
(the present Beylerbeyi Palace was built in 1861–1865 on the same location) in
Istanbul, which was issued by Sultan Abdülmecid who personally tested the new
invention. Following this successful test,
installation works of the first telegraph line between Istanbul and
Edirne began on 9 August 1847.
In 1855 the
Telegraph Administration was established. In July 1881 the first
circuit in Istanbul was
established between the Ministry of Post and Telegraph in
Soğukçeşme and the Postahane-i Amire in Yenicami. On 23 May 1909,
the first manual telephone
with a 50 line capacity was established in the
(Grand Post Office) of Sirkeci.
has two international airports: The larger one is the Atatürk
International Airport located in the Yeşilköy district on the European side, about west from the
When it was first built, the airport was
situated at the western edge of the metropolitan area but now lies
within the city bounds. The smaller one is the Sabiha Gökçen International
Airport located in the Kurtköy district on the Asian side,
close to the Istanbul
Park GP Racing Circuit.
is situated approximately east of the Asian side and east of the
European city center.
Sea transport is vital for Istanbul, as the
city is practically surrounded by sea on all sides: the Sea of
Marmara, the Golden
Horn, the Bosphorus and the Black
Many Istanbulites live on the Asian side of
the city but work on the European side (or vice-versa) and the
city's famous commuter ferries form the backbone of the daily
transition between the two parts of the city – even more so than
the two suspension bridges
span the Bosphorus. The commuter ferries, along with the high
speed catamaran Seabus (Deniz Otobüsü), also form
the main connection between the city and the Princes'
The first steam ferries appeared on the Bosphorus in 1837 and were
operated by private sector companies. On January 1, 1851, the
(literally the Goodwill Company
as the Istanbul Ferry Company was originally called) was
established by the Ottoman state. The Şirket-i Hayriye continued to
operate the city's landmark commuter ferries until the early years
of the Republican period, when they went under the direction of
Türkiye Denizcilik İşletmeleri (Turkish State Maritime Lines).
Since March 2006, Istanbul's traditional commuter ferries are being
operated by İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (Istanbul Sea Buses) which
also operates the high speed catamaran Seabus.
İDO (İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri –
Istanbul Sea Buses) was established in 1987 and operates
the high speed catamaran Seabus which run between the
European and Asian parts of Istanbul, also connecting the city with
Islands and other destinations in the Sea of
The Yenikapı High Speed Car Ferry
on the European side, and the Pendik High Speed Car
on the Asian side, are where the high speed
catamaran "car ferries" are based. The car ferries which operate between
Yenikapı (on the European side of Istanbul) and Bandırma reduce the driving time between Istanbul and
İzmir and other
major destinations on Turkey's Aegean coast by several hours; while those which operate
between Yenikapı or Pendik (on the Asian side of Istanbul) and Yalova significantly reduce the driving time between
Istanbul and Bursa or Antalya.
The port of Istanbul is the most important one in the country.
port on the Golden
Horn serves primarily for personal navigation, while
Karaköy port in Galata is used by the large cruise
liners. Regular services as well as cruises from
both Karaköy and Eminönü exist to several port cities in the Mediterranean Sea and Black
Istanbul's main cargo port is located in
the Harem district on the Asian side of the city. Istanbul also has
of varying size for personal
navigation, the largest of which are the Ataköy Marina on the
European side and Kalamış Marina on the Asian side.
The State Road and the European route , the Trans European
(TEM) are the two main motorway connections between
Europe and Turkey. The motorway network around Istanbul is well
developed and is constantly being extended. Motorways lead east
to Ankara and west to Edirne.
There are also two express highways
circling the city. The older one, the , is mostly used for inner
city traffic; while the more recent one, the , is mostly used by
intercity or intercontinental traffic.
Bridge on the and the Fatih
Sultan Mehmet Bridge on the establish the motorway connection between
the European and the Asian sides of the Bosphorus. The southern and northern shores of the
Horn, an inlet of the Bosphorus on the European side of
the city, are connected through the Galata Bridge, the Atatürk Bridge and the Haliç Bridge; the
latter also being a part of the motorway network.
Büyükdere Avenue is the main artery that
runs through the central business districts of Levent and Maslak on the European
side, and is also accessible through a number of subway stations. At the point where
the motorway junctions and tunnels between the quarters of
Gayrettepe and Zincirlikuyu come together, Büyükdere Avenue
connects with Barbaros Boulevard, which descends towards the ferry
port of Beşiktaş. There it connects with the coastal highway
that runs along the European shore of the Bosphorus, from Eminönü in the south to Sarıyer in the north.
a Belgian entrepreneur, Georges Nagelmackers, began a rail service between Paris and Constantinople, using a steamship to ferry passengers from
Varna to Constantinople. In 1889, a rail line
was completed going through Bucharest to Constantinople, making the whole journey via
The route was known as the Orient Express
, made even more famous by the
works of Agatha Christie
the Sirkeci Terminal of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), which
was originally opened in 1890 as the terminus of the Orient Express, is the terminus of all the
lines on the European side and the main connection node of the
Turkish railway network with
the rest of Europe. Currently, international connections are
provided by the line running between Istanbul and Thessaloniki, Greece, and the Bosphorus Express serving
daily between Sirkeci and Bucharest, Romania. Lines to Sofia, Belgrade, Budapest, and Chişinău are established over the Bosphorus
Express connection to Bucharest.
the Bosphorus, the Haydarpaşa Terminal on the Asian side serves lines running several
times daily to Ankara, and less frequently to other destinations in
Anatolia. The railway networks on the European and
Asian sides are currently connected by the train ferry across the Bosphorus, which will be
replaced by an underwater tunnel connection with the completion of
the Marmaray project, scheduled for 2012.
(Bosphorus Rail Tunnel) will also connect the metro lines
on the European and Asian parts
of the city. Inaugurated in 1908, the Haydarpaşa Terminal was
originally opened as the terminus of the Istanbul-Konya-Baghdad
railway line runs between the main train
station of the European part, the Sirkeci
Terminal, and the Halkalı district towards the west of
the city center, with 18 stations along its 30 km
A single trip takes 48 minutes. Another suburban
line runs on the Anatolian part from the main train station, the
Haydarpaşa Terminal, to Gebze at the eastern end of the city.
44 km long line has 28 stations and the trip takes 65 minutes.
720,000 passengers use the urban rail lines on the European side of
the city every day.
Trams first entered service in Istanbul on September 3, 1869, at
the Tophane – Ortaköy
line. In 1871 the Azapkapı –
; Aksaray – Yedikule
; Aksaray –
; and Eminönü – Aksaray
lines entered service.
Other lines which entered service in the late 19th century included
the Voyvoda Caddesi – Kabristan Sokağı – Tepebaşı – Taksim –
Pangaltı – Şişli
line; the Bayezid – Şehzadebaşı
line; the Fatih – Edirnekapı – Galatasaray – Tünel
and the Eminönü – Bahçekapı
line. Since 1939 the trams of
the city are operated by the İETT. On August 12, 1961, the historic
red trams of Istanbul were removed from the city's European side;
and on November 14, 1966, they were removed from the city's Asian
side. Towards the end of 1990, replicas of these
historic red trams were put in service along the İstiklal Avenue between Taksim and Tünel, which is a single 1.6 km-long (1640 m)
line. On November 1, 2003, another nostalgic tram
line (T3) was reopened on the Anatolian part of Istanbul between Kadıköy and Moda.
It has 10 stations on a 2.6 km long
route. The trip takes 21 minutes.
tram (T1) was put in service in 1992 on standard gauge track with
modern cars, connecting Sirkeci with Topkapı. The line was extended on one end from
Topkapı to Zeytinburnu in March 1994, and on the other end from
Sirkeci to Eminönü in April 1996. On 30 January 2005
it was extended from Eminönü to Fındıklı, crossing the Golden Horn through the Galata Bridge for the first time after 44 years.
extension to Kabataş
opened in June 2006. The line has 24 stations on a length of
14 km. Service was initially operated with 22 LRT vehicles
built by ABB
, now reassigned to other
lines; while stations were provided with temporary high platforms.
These vehicles were replaced by 55 low-floor Bombardier Flexity Swift
trams in 2003. An entire trip
takes 42 minutes. The daily transport capacity is 155,000
passengers. The amount of investment totaled US$
110 million. In September 2006, a
second tram line (T2) was added, running west from Zeytinburnu to Bağcılar.
Service on this line is operated with
14 ABB LRT cars. Stations have high platforms at the level of the
Istanbul is served by two underground
, of very different ages and styles.
older of these lines is the Tünel . Inaugurated on January 17, 1875, the Tünel
is the second-oldest subterranean
urban rail line
in the world after the London
Underground (arguably third in the world, if one counts
Brooklyn, New York's abandoned Atlantic Avenue Tunnel) and the first subterranean urban rail line in
continental Europe; though the
first full subway line with multiple
underground stations in continental Europe was the Line 1 of the Budapest Metro (1896). The Tünel is 573 m
long with an altitude difference of 60 m and no intermediate
stations between Karaköy and Tünel Square.
It has been
continuously in service since 1875. Two trains run on a single rail
every 3.5 minutes, and a trip takes 1.5 minutes. Making 64,800
trips, totaling 37,066 kilometres a year, the Tünel carries 15,000
passengers per day.
funicular line, the Kabataş-Taksim Funicular, entered service on
June 29, 2006, connecting Kabataş and Taksim. This system connects the Seabus station and the tram
stop in Kabataş to the metro station at Taksim
It is about 600 meters long and climbs
approximately 60 meters in 110 seconds, carrying 9,000
passengers per day.
The Istanbul LRT
is a light rail transit
system consisting of 2 lines.
first line (M1) began service on 3 September 1989 between Aksaray and Kartaltepe. The line was further
developed step-by-step and reached Atatürk
Airport on December 20, 2002.
The other line (T4)
was opened in 2007 between Edirnekapı and Mescid-i Selam. There are
36 stations, including 12 underground and 3 viaduct stations, on
the line's 32 km length. The lines are totally segregated from
other traffic, without level
, and run underground for 10.4 km. Service is
operated with LRT vehicles built by ABB
Construction works of the Istanbul Metro (M2) began in 1992 and the
first completed section between Taksim and 4.
Levent entered service on September 16, 2000.
section of the line is long and has 6 stations. In 2000, there were
-built 4-car train sets in service,
which ran every 5 minutes on average and transported 130,000
passengers daily. On January 30, 2009, the first train sets built
entered service. Eurotem will
build a total of 92 new wagons for the M2 line. As of January 30,
2009, a total of 34 train sets, each with 4 cars, were being used
on the M2 line.
A northern extension from 4. Levent to Maslak
was opened on January 30, 2009. The southern extension of the M2 line from
Taksim to Yenikapı, across the Golden Horn on a bridge and underground through the historic
peninsula, has thus
far been completed up to the Şişhane station in Beyoğlu, which also entered service on January 30,
2009. At Yenikapı the M2 network will intersect
with the extended light metro and
suburban train lines, and with the
At present, the M2 line has 10 stations in service on the European
side of the city; while 6 new stations on the European side and 16
new stations on the Asian side are currently under construction.
between the Şişhane station in Beyoğlu and the Atatürk Oto Sanayi station in Maslak is long and takes 21 minutes.
total length of the European side of the M2 line will reach when
all 16 stations from Hacıosman to Yenikapı will be completed; not
including the 936 metres long Golden Horn metro bridge, the 0.6 km long Taksim-Kabataş
tunnel connection with the Seabus port, the
0.6 km long Yenikapı-Aksaray tunnel connection with the
LRT network, and the 13.6 km long
Asian side, construction of the long M2 line from Kadıköy to Kartal continues, which will have a total of 16
stations. The Marmaray tunnel (Bosporus undersea railway tunnel) will connect the
metro lines of the Asian and European parts of the city.
According to the scheduled construction timeline, the tunnel will
enter service in 2012.
Culture and contemporary life
Fine and performing arts
Istanbul is becoming increasingly colourful in terms of its rich
social, cultural, and commercial activities. While world famous pop
stars fill stadiums, activities like opera
continue throughout the year. During seasonal festivals, world
famous orchestras, chorale ensembles, concerts and jazz legends can
be found often playing to a full house.The Istanbul International Film
is one of the most important film festivals in Europe
, Istanbul Film Festival history
retrieved June 10, 2009
while the Istanbul Biennial
is another major event
of fine arts.
Modern, frequently hosts the exhibitions of renowned
Turkish and foreign artists. Pera
have hosted the exhibitions of world famous
artists and are among the most important private museums in the
city. The Doğançay Museum
– Turkey’s first contemporary art museum – is dedicated almost
exclusively to the work of its founder Burhan Doğançay
. The Rahmi
M. Koç Museum on the Golden Horn is an industrial museum that
exhibits historic industrial equipment such as cars and locomotives
from the 1800s and early 1900s, as well as boats, submarines,
aircraft, and other similar vintage machines from past
Archaeology Museum, established in 1881, is one of the largest museums
of its kind in the world.
The museum contains more than
1,000,000 archaeological pieces from the Mediterranean basin
, the Balkans,
the Middle East
, North Africa
and Central Asia
. Istanbul Mosaic Museum contains
the late Roman and early Byzantine floor mosaics and wall ornaments
of the Great Palace of
Constantinople. The nearby Turkish
and Islamic Arts Museum displays a vast collection of items from various
Islamic civilizations. Sadberk Hanım Museum
wide variety of artifacts
dating from the earliest Anatolian civilizations to the
Occasionally, in November, the Silahhane
(Armory Hall) of
Istanbul Antiques Fair
, which brings together rare pieces
of antiques from the Orient and Occident. The multi-storey
Mecidiyeköy Antikacılar Çarşısı (Mecidiyeköy Antiques
Bazaar) in the Mecidiyeköy quarter of Şişli is the largest antiques market in the city, while
the Çukurcuma neighbourhood of Beyoğlu has rows of antiques shops in its streets.
Bazaar, edificed between 1455–1461 by the order of Sultan
Mehmed the Conqueror also has numerous
antiques shops, along with shops selling jewels, carpets and other
items of art and artisanship.
Historic and rare books are
found in the Sahaflar Çarşısı
near Beyazıt Square
, and it is one of the oldest
book markets in the world, and has continuously been active in the
same location since the late Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman
shows and concerts are hosted at a number of locations including
historical sites such as the Hagia Irene, Rumeli Fortress, Yedikule Castle, the
courtyard of Topkapı
Palace, and Gülhane Park; as well as the Atatürk
Cultural Center, Cemal Reşit Rey Concert
Hall and other open air and modern theatre halls.
A significant culture has been developed around what is known as a
. It was a culture of
leisure during the Ottoman period, the finest example being the
(1584) in Istanbul, located on the
Çemberlitaş (Column of Constantine) Square.
Traditional beach resorts had gradually disappeared due to water pollution
. Recently, however, old
places have reopened in the city. The most popular places for swimming in
the city are in Bakırköy, Küçükçekmece, Sarıyer and the Bosphorus. Outside the city are the Marmara Sea's
Islands, Silivri and Tuzla; as well as Kilyos and Şile on the Black Sea.
Islands (Prens Adaları) are a group of islands in the
Sea, south of the quarters Kartal and Pendik.
Pine and stone-pine
and art nouveau
-style Ottoman era summer
mansions from the 19th and early 20th centuries, horse-drawn
carriages (motor vehicles are not permitted) and seafood
restaurants make them a popular destination. They can be reached
by ferry boats or high-speed catamaran Seabus (Deniz
otobüsü) from Eminönü and Bostancı.
Of the nine islands, only five are settled.
Şile is a distant and well-known Turkish seaside resort
on the Black Sea, from Istanbul, where unspoiled white sand beaches
can be found.
Kilyos is a small calm seaside resort not far
from the northern European entrance of the Bosphorus at the Black
Sea. The place has good swimming possibilities and has become
popular in the recent years among the inhabitants of Istanbul as a
place for excursions. Kilyos offers a beach park with seafood
restaurants and night clubs
particularly active in the summer with many night parties and live
concerts on the beach.
has numerous historic shopping centers, such as the Grand
Bazaar (1461), Mahmutpaşa Bazaar (1462)
and the Egyptian Bazaar (1660). The first modern shopping mall was Galleria
Ataköy (1987), which was followed by dozens of others in
the later decades, such as Akmerkez (1993) which is the only mall to win both
"Europe's Best" and "World's Best" awards by the ICSC; Metrocity (2003); Cevahir Mall (2005) which is the largest mall in Europe; and
Mall (2006) which won the 2006 Cityscape Architectural Review Award for its
interesting design. İstinye Park (2007) and City's Nişantaşı (2008) are two new
malls which target high-end consumers and are almost exclusively
dedicated to world-famous fashion brands.
Along with the traditional Turkish restaurants, many European and
restaurants and numerous other
cuisines are also thriving in the city. Most of the city's
historic winehouses (meyhane in Turkish) and pubs are located in the areas
around İstiklal Avenue in
The 19th century Çiçek Pasajı
in Turkish, or Cité de Péra
French) on İstiklal Avenue, which has many historic meyhanes, pubs
and restaurants, was built by Hristaki Zoğrafos
Efendi at the
former site of the Naum Theatre and was inaugurated in 1876. The
famous Nevizâde Street
, which has rows of historic
meyhanes next to each other, is also in this area.
Other historic pubs are found in the areas around Tünel
and the nearby Asmalımescit Sokağı
historic neighbourhoods around İstiklal Avenue have recently been
recreated, with differing levels of success; such as Cezayir
Sokağı near Galatasaray Lisesi, which became unofficially known as La Rue
Française and has rows of francophone pubs, cafés and restaurants playing
Istanbul is also famous for its historic seafood restaurants.
popular seafood restaurants are generally found along the shores of
the Bosphorus and by the Marmara Sea shore towards the south of the city.
largest of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara (namely Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada) and Anadolu Kavağı near the northern
entrance of the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea (close to Yoros Castle, which was also known as the Genoese
Castle due to Genoa's
possession of it in the mid-15th century) also have many historic
There are many night clubs, pubs, restaurants and taverns with live
music in the city. The night clubs, restaurants and bars increase
in number and move to open air spaces in the summer. The areas around
Istiklal Avenue and Nişantaşı offer all sorts of cafés, restaurants, pubs and
clubs as well as art galleries, theaters
and cinemas. Babylon and Nu Pera in
Beyoğlu are popular night clubs both in the summer and in
The most popular open air summer time seaside night clubs are found
on the Bosporus, such as Sortie
in the Ortaköy
district. Q Jazz Bar
in Ortaköy offers live jazz music
in a stylish environment.
Venues such as Istanbul Arena
and Kuruçeşme Arena
on the Bosporus
frequently host the live concerts of famous singers and bands from
all corners of the world. Parkorman
in Maslak hosted the
Isle of MTV Party
in 2002 and is a popular venue
for live concerts and rave parties in the summer.
The first Turkish newspaper, Takvim-i Vekayi, was printed on August
1, 1831 in the Bâbıâli (Bâb-ı Âli
, meaning The Sublime Porte
) district. Bâbıâli became the
main center for print media
. Istanbul is
also the printing capital of Turkey with a wide variety of domestic
and foreign periodicals expressing diverse views, and domestic
newspapers are extremely competitive. Most nationwide newspapers
are based in Istanbul, with simultaneous Ankara and İzmir editions.
newspapers with their headquarters in Istanbul include Hürriyet, Milliyet,
Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Türkiye, Akşam, Bugün, Star, Dünya,
Tercüman, Güneş, Vatan, Posta, Takvim, Vakit, Yeni Şafak, Fanatik and Turkish Daily News.
There are also
numerous local and national TV and radio
located in Istanbul, such as CNBC-e
, CNN Türk
, Fox Türkiye
, Fox Sports Türkiye
, Kanal D
, Show TV
, Star TV
Türk, TGRT Haber, Kanal 7, Kanal Türk, Flash TV and many others. In
the city of Istanbul, there are over a hundred FM-radio
the Roman and Byzantine periods, the most important sporting events
were the quadriga chariot races that were held at the Hippodrome
of Constantinople, which had a capacity to accommodate more than
Today, sports like football, basketball
and volleyball are very popular in the city. In addition to
Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş, which field teams in multiple sports, several
other clubs have also excelled in particular team sports; such as
Efes Pilsen, Fenerbahçe Ülker, Galatasaray Cafe Crown, Türk Telekom and Beşiktaş Cola Turka in
basketball; or Eczacıbaşı, Vakıfbank,
Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray in
Olympic Stadium, the largest multi-purpose stadium in Turkey, is a
5-star UEFA stadium and a first-class venue for
track and field; having
reached the highest required standards set by the International Olympic
Committee and sports federations such as the IAAF, FIFA and
The stadium hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League
. The Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, which is also a 5-star UEFA stadium, hosted the
2009 UEFA Cup Final that went
down to history as the last Final of the UEFA Cup football tournament.
UEFA Cup will be replaced by the UEFA Europa
starting from the 2009-2010 season.
Erdem Dome, the largest multi-purpose indoor
arena in Turkey, will host the Final of the 2010 FIBA World Basketball
Championship, and will also be the venue for the 2012 IAAF World Indoor
Championships and the 2012 FINA Short
Course World Championships. The Abdi
İpekçi Arena hosted the Final of EuroBasket 2001, and was also the venue for
the 1992 Euroleague Final
hosts several annual motorsports events, such as the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix, the MotoGP Grand
Prix of Turkey, the FIA
World Touring Car
Championship, the GP2 and the
Le Mans Series races at the Istanbul
Park GP Racing Circuit.
time to time Istanbul also hosts the Turkish leg of the F1 Powerboat Racing on the Bosphorus. Several annual sailing and yacht races take place on the Bosphorus and the
Marmara. The Golden Horn is where the rowing
races take place.
Major clubs like Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe
and Beşiktaş, and major universities such as the Bosphorus
University have rowing teams. Air racing
is new to the city. On 29 July 2006, Istanbul hosted the 5th
leg of the spectacular Red Bull Air Race World
Series, as well as the 4th leg on 2 June 2007, in both cases
above the Golden
Personal sports like golf, horse
and tennis are gaining popularity as the city hosts
international tournaments such as the WTA Istanbul Cup
. For aerobics and
bodybuilding, numerous fitness clubs are available. Paintball is a
sport which has recently gained popularity and is practiced by two
large clubs in the proximity of Istanbul. Martial arts
and other Eastern disciplines and
practices such as Aikido
can be exercised in several centers across the
city. Istanbul also hosts the annual MTB races in the nearby Belgrad Forest and
Two of the most prominent cycling teams of
Turkey, namely the Scott/Marintek MTB Team and the Kron/Sektor
Bikes/Efor Bisiklet MTB Team, are from Istanbul.
Twin towns — Sister cities
The following is a list of Istanbul's sister cities
- BBC: "Istanbul's ancient past unearthed" Published on
January 10, 2009. Retrieved on January 11, 2009.
- A description of the city in this period can be found in the
Constantinopolitanae ( text).
- Today's Zaman
- www.mymerhaba.com: Belgrade Forest
- ("Climate change: impact on coastal habitation" by
edited meterorologist Dr. Doeke Eisma with particular reference on
the transitional climate of Istanbul Chapter 8 "Impact of Climatic
Change on Coastal Cities" by Tjeerd Deelstra on page 174.)
- Istanbul, Turkey Historical Weather Data with Monthly
Details (Source: International Station Meteorological Climate
- Ana Britannica: Turkish edition of Encyclopedia Britannica
- Freely, John (2000). Blue Guide Istanbul. W. W. Norton &
Company. ISBN 0-393-32014-6.
- Kartın. F, 1974, Ortaköy Camii, Rölöve ve
Restorasyon Dergisi, 1., Ankara, p. 87–89
- Doģan Kuban, Osmanlı Mimarisi, YEM Yayın, 2007, ISBN
- Türkiye istatistik kurumu Address-based
population survey 2007. Retrieved on 2008-03-19.
- The Kurdish question. Al–Ahram Weekly. 6–12 April
- Globalization, Cosmopolitanism, and the Dönme in
Ottoman Salonica and Turkish Istanbul. Marc Baer. University of
- Gilson, George. “ Destroying a minority: Turkey’s attack on the
review of (Vryonis 2005), Athens News, 24 June 2005.
- PriceWaterhouseCoopers: U.K. Economic
Outlook and Global City GDP Ranking 2005–2020 Full Report
- CNN Türk: Dış ticaretin lokomotifi İstanbul
(Istanbul is the locomotive of foreign trade)
- Silahtarağa Santral becomes Santralistanbul
- PTT Chronology
- Istanbul City Guide: Beylerbeyi Palace
- Türk Telekom: History