Istanbul located in North West part of Turkey. Istanbul is the only city in the world built on two continents which Fatih Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror changed in his era. It stands on the shores of the uniquely beautiful Bosphorus (Istanbul Bogazi) where the waters of the Black Sea combine with those of The sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. Istanbul is a province designed to be the capital and it has been the capital of three empires which used to dominate the world. Today the province houses the precious remains of these civilizations and stands with all its glamour and mysticism as a harmonious link between East and West, past and present, antique and modern.
It is one of the richest cities in historical background, as well as one of the most beautiful, enchanting and alive cities of the world. It has an atmosphere of its own with its life-style, people and numerous attractions. In Istanbul you will have to be generous with time since it has so much to show. The old palaces, the great mosques with soaring minarets, ancient churches, museums, bazaars, the Istanbul Strait and others are wonderful sites worth seeing.
Istanbul, historically known in English as Constantinople; is Turkey’s most populous city, and its cultural and financial center. The city covers 25 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located at 41° N 28° E, on the Bosphorus strait, and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn (Turkish: Haliç), in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents. In its long history, Istanbul (Constantinople) served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330-395), the Byzantine Empire (395-1204 and 1261-1453), the Latin Empire (1204-1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453-1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The “Historic Areas of Istanbul” were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
Today, as well as being the largest city, Istanbul is the financial, cultural and economic centre of modern Turkey.
The city has a temperate-continental climate, with hot and humid summers; and cold, rainy and often snowy winters. Humidity is generally rather high which can make temperatures feel much warmer or colder than they actually are. Yearly precipitation for Istanbul averages 870 mm. Snowfall is quite common, snowing for a week or two during the winter season, but it can be heavy once it snows. It is most likely to occur between the months of December and March. The summer months between June and September bring average daytime temperatures of 28 °C (82 °F). The warmest month is July with an average temperature of 23.2 °C (74 °F), the coldest is January with 5.4 °C (42 °F). The weather becomes slightly cooler as one moves toward eastern Istanbul. Summer is by far the driest season, although there is no real summer drought such as that occurs further west. The city is quite windy, having an average wind speed of 17 km/h (11 mph).
Istanbul is situated near the North Anatolian fault line, which runs from northern Anatolia to the Marmara Sea. Two tectonic plates, the African and the Eurasian, push against each other here. This fault line has been 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 in August 1999, with its epicenter in nearby Kocaeli, left 18,000 dead and many more homeless.  In all of these earthquakes, the devastating effects are a result of the close settlement and poor construction of buildings. Seismologists predict another earthquake, possibly measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, occurring before 2025.
The city has many architecturally significant entities, please see the list of architectural structures in Istanbul. 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.
Traditionally, Ottoman buildings were built of ornate wood. Only “state buildings” such as palaces and mosques were built of stone. Starting from the 18th and 19th centuries, wood was gradually replaced with stone as the primary building material, while traditional Ottoman architectural styles were replaced with European architectural styles, particularly following the Tanzimat movement which effectively started Turkey’s Europeanization process in 1839. But even before the Tanzimat period, European styles began to appear in the city, such as the 18th century Baroque additions to the Harem section of Topkapı Palace. New palaces and mosques were built in Neoclassical, Baroque and Rococo styles, or a mixture of all three, such as the Dolmabahçe Palace, Dolmabahçe Mosque and Ortaköy Mosque. Even Neo-Gothic mosques were built, such as the Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque and Yıldız Mosque. Large state buildings like schools or military barracks were also built in various European styles.
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 especially became a major center of the Art Nouveau movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with famous architects of this style like Raimondo D’Aronco building many palaces and mansions in the city proper and on the Princes’ Islands. His most important works in the city include several buildings of the Yıldız Palace complex, and the Botter House 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 Hıdiv Kasrı (Khedive Palace) on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, Flora Han in Sirkeci, and Frej Apartmanı in the Şişhane quarter of Beyoğlu.
Thus, by the mid 19th century, the southern part of the Golden Horn (the historic peninsula of Constantinople) had a traditionally Ottoman Turkish appearance and population, while the northern part of the Golden Horn became more and more Europeanized both in terms of architecture and in terms of demographics. The Galata Bridge had become a connection between the oriental and occidental (southern and northern) parts of the European side of Istanbul.
The Bosphorus was regarded as a summer resort during the Ottoman period and the traditional wooden houses and mansions, called yalı, were the choice of the wealthy Ottoman elite. Most of the development happened during the Tulip Period, a period which is best represented by the Sadullah Paşa Yalısı built in 1783. The oldest surviving yalı is the Amcazade Köprülü Hüseyin Pasha yalı located in Kandilli on the Asiatic shores of the Bosphorus and dates from 1699. The wooden seaside chalet mansions retained their basic architectural principles until the middle of the 19th century, when they were gradually replaced by less flammable brick houses especially during the First Constitutional Period. The development of yalıs lasted until the First World War.
In the last decades, numerous tall structures 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, and especially in the business and shopping districts of Levent, Maslak, and Etiler 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. The headquarters of Turkey’s largest companies and banks are also located in this area.
Istanbul has 31 districts. However, these can be divided into three main areas: (1) the historic peninsula, (2) the areas north of the Golden Horn, and (3) the Asian side.
The Historic Peninsula of old İstanbul comprises the districts of Eminönü and Fatih. This area 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. The Historic Peninsula ends with the Theodosian Land Walls in the west. The peninsula is surrounded by the Sea of Marmara on the south and the Bosphorus on the east.
North 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 residences.
The quarters of Üsküdar (Chrysopolis) and Kadıköy (Chalcedon) which are located on the Asian side were originally independent cities, like Beyoğlu (Pera) also used to be. Today they are full of modern residential areas and business districts, and are home to around one-third of Istanbul’s population.
Historically, Istanbul has been the center of the country’s economic life due to its location as an international junction of land and sea trade routes. Income distribution is not fairly balanced in Istanbul, such that 20% of the highest income group uses 64% of the resources and 20% of the lowest income group uses 4% of the resources (based on 1994 statistics). The change in Istanbul’s living standards is a direct reflection of the nation’s statistics as the 27.5% share of the total consumption in Turkey is performed by the population of Istanbul.
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 that year . In 2006 Turkey’s exports grew a further +16.1% while imports grew +17.6% due to a rising demand of energy resources and raw materials by the industrial manufacturers in the country .
In 2005 the City of Istanbul had a GDP of $133 billion, outranking many prominent cities in the world including Beijing, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Milan, Rome, Zurich, Singapore, Mumbai, Delhi, Jakarta, Bangkok, Montreal, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Brussels, Birmingham, Manchester, Athens, Cairo, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Tehran, Riyadh and many others, according to a research conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC)
Istanbul has always been the “financial capital” of Turkey, even after Ankarabecame the new political capital in 1923. The opening of specific markets in the city during the 1980s further strengthened this status. Inaugurated at the beginning of 1986, the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) is the sole securities market of Turkey, established to provide trading in equities, right coupons, Government bonds, Treasury bills, revenue sharing certificates, bonds issued by the Privatization Administration and corporate bonds, and to carry out overnight transactions . In 1993 the ISE decided on gold market liberalization, and in 1995 the Istanbul Gold Exchange was established, which ended the gold bullion imports monopoly of the Turkish Central Bank and transferred it to the private sector members of the gold exchange .
Levent and Maslak financial districts are home to the headquarters of Turkey’s largest companies and banks, as well as the local headquarters of global giants of the financial sector such as Citibank, Merrill Lynch, J. P. Morgan, HSBC, ABN Amro, Fortis, ING Bank, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Banca di Roma, UniCredit, WestLB, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, and many others. Both Levent and Maslak have a constantly growing and changing dynamic skyline with several new skyscraper projects being proposed, approved and initiated every year.
Istanbul is the “industrial center” of Turkey. It employs approximately 20% of Turkey’s industrial labor and contributes 38% of Turkey’s industrial workspace. In addition, the city generates 55% of Turkey’s trade and 45% of the country’s wholesale trade, and generates 21.2% of Turkey’s gross national product. Istanbul contributes 40% of all taxes collected in Turkey and produces 27.5% of Turkey’s national product.
Many of Turkey’s major manufacturing plants are located in the city. Istanbul and its surrounding province produce cotton, fruit, olive oil, silk, and tobacco. Food processing, textile production, oil products, rubber, metal ware, leather, chemicals, electronics, glass, machinery, paper and paper products, and alcoholic drinks are among the city’s major industrial products. The city also has plants that assemble automobiles and trucks.
Pharmaceutical industry started in 1952 with the establishment of “Eczacıbaşı Pharmaceuticals Factory” in Levent, Istanbul. Today, 134 companies operate in the pharmaceutical industry, which significant part is within the city
Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots of Turkey. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist oriented industries in Istanbul catering to both vacationers and visiting professionals.
It is also one of the world’s most exciting conference destinations and is an increasingly popular choice for the world’s leading international associations . Istanbul’s conference appeal developed with three separate conference and exhibition areas: The Conference Valley (Istanbul Convention & Exhibition Center, Istanbul Hilton Convention & Exhibition Center, the Military Museum Cultural Center and the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall); The Airport & Exhibition District (150,000 m2 (1.6 m sq ft) of exhibition space with the CNR International Expo Center in the center); and the Business & Financial District (with many distributed centers). These cluster areas feature a combination of accommodations, meeting facilities, and exhibition space. They can be used individually, or collectively through transportation with the Istanbul metro, and are linked together for events with 10,000 or more participants.
Life in the city
Cultural activity, tourism and commerce are expected to remain important in the life of the city. However, major challenges loom ahead, such as demographic growth, traffic congestion, disorganized housing construction, the restoration of historic buildings and the planning of a 3rd motorway transition through the Bosphorus. Daily life in Istanbul is colorful and vibrant and continues to bustle side by side with many carefully protected Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments. Istanbul is often considered the capital of Turkey in terms of commerce, entertainment, culture, education, shopping, tourism and art. More than half of the population lives and works on the European side. The large number of people living in the residential areas on the Anatolian side use bridges and ferries to commute to work in a city that has been one of the most popular destinations for voyagers throughout history.
Art & Culture
Istanbul is becoming increasingly colorful in terms of its rich social, cultural and commercial activities. While world famous pop stars fill stadiums, activities like opera, ballet and theater 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. Shows 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 theater halls. For those who enjoy night life, there are many night clubs, pubs, restaurants and taverns with live music. 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. Biletix is a useful site to check out the latest concerts, shows, art exhibitions and cultural events in Istanbul.
Along with the traditional Turkish restaurants, many European and Far Eastern restaurants and numerous other cuisines are also thriving in the city. There are thousands of alternatives for night life in Istanbul but the most popular open air summer time seaside night clubs are found on the Bosphorus, such as Reina and Anjelique in the Ortaköy district. Babylon and Nu Pera in Beyoğlu are popular night clubs both in the summer and in the winter, while The Venue in Maslak often hosts live concerts of famous rock, hard rock and heavy metal 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. Q Jazz Bar in Ortaköy offers live jazz music in a stylish environment.
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 Princes’ Islands, Silivri and Tuzla; as well as Kilyos and Şile on the Black Sea. The Princes’ Islands (Prens Adaları) are a group of islands in the Marmara Sea, south of the quarters Kartal and Pendik. Pine and stone-pine wooden neoclassical 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, 50 kilometers from Istanbul. Unspoiled white sand beaches can be found outside of Şile. 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 became popular in the last years among the inhabitants of Istanbul as a place for excursions. Kilyos offers a beach park with seafood restaurants and night clubs, being particularly active in the summer with many night parties and live concerts on the beach.