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The Old City of Istanbul: History and What to See

The Old City of Istanbul (Turkish: Eski Istanbul, “Old Istanbul”, likewise Tarihi Yarımada, “Noteworthy Peninsula” and Suriçi, “Walled City”) is the most established piece of the city and the area of the greater part of its memorable sights. A considerable lot of Istanbul’s chronicled jewels, generally comprising of Byzantine and Ottoman-manufactured landmarks are inside the Old City. Most are found a short leave, if not promptly on the edges of, Sultanahmet Square. Some different sights are scattered all through the landmass. In this article, we will mention its history and what to see. Keep reading!


ISTANBUL’S HISTORY

No one can resist Istanbul. Istanbul has always been a unique city throughout history with it’s 7 hills, it’s sea and the natural port the Golden Horn. Istanbul’s rich history does not surprise after seeing such beauty.

Istanbul’s story is beautiful even from the start: Setting journey from Megara, Greece, Byzas has desire to found a new city. He goes and consults the oracle of Delphi on choosing a site. The oracle tells him to construct his city across from the “Land of the Blind”. Byzas set off with confusion and while gazing from today’s Sarayburnu to the past’s Khalkedon (Kadıköy), he thought to himself “Why have these blind built cities in the desert while this place is so beautiful?” . Then, of course, the words of the oracle of Delphi come to his mind. He has found where he will construct Istanbul.

Istanbul was not named by the Ottomans, as it is usually thought. The name dates back to an even older source it is a name of a person in the book Fütuh’üş-Şam of the 9th century. The Greek King Timaeus’ son Istanbul works to construct the city for four years during his reign. But the city is completed by Constantine, who takes his place. It is mentioned as Istinbolin in the 10th century book Tenbih (Mesudi). There is also a great deal of other data about Istanbul’s name some which contradict others. Istanbul has been referred to with dozens of other names such as Byzantion, Constantinople, Konstantiniyye, Asitane, Darülhilafe and Dersaadet.

Istanbul’s history dates back around three hundred thousand years. It is thought that people used to live around the Küçükçekmece Lake during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic eras. Tools dating back to the Lower Palaeolithic Era were excavated in Dudullu, while some dating back to the Middle Palaeolithic Era and the Upper Palaeolithic Era were discovered around Ağaçlı. Ruins dating back to the Neolithic Period (6500 BC) were discovered during the excavations of the Marmaray immersed tube tunnel, some dating back to the Bronze Age (5500-3500 BC) were discovered in Fikirtepe while some ruins were discovered in Kadıköy dating back to the Phoenicians.

As in the legend we told above, Byzantion is founded in 667 BC during King Byzas’s reign. The city was named after the son Septimius Severus, Augusta Antonina, for a short time during the reign of the Roman Empire in the city. The city is declared the capital city of the Roman Empire during the reign of Constantine I. It is called Nova Roma for a while afterwards but is changed to Constantinople after the death of Constantine I in 337.

This period started in 324 and continued till 1453. During this period, Istanbul became administrative headquarters to the Eastern Rome. The city was developed and expanded during this age with new architectural structures. A 100,000-person hippodrome (Sultanahmet square), ports and water facilities were built. After the construction of the world’s largest cathedral Hagia Sophia in 360, Constantine converted the religion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, giving start to the separation with the West, who still believed in Roman Paganism. The Byzantine Period starts with the death of Theodosius I. With the fall of Western Rome in 476, most of the Romans in Western Rome migrated to this area. And this is how the capital of the Byzantine Empire became Istanbul. The great plague that hit in 543 killed half of the population. Empire Justinian I rebuilt the city after the pandemic. Seized countless times during its history, Istanbul was looted during the Fourth Crusade and was ruined to bits. The period of the Romans comes to an end in 1261. After this period, the Byzantine Empire continues to shrink and Ottoman Empire starts to invade the lands in 1391.

The legendary conquer happened on 29 May 1453. This date is also the end of the Middle Age. Istanbul rapidly develops during the Ottoman period. After the construction of hundreds of palaces, markets, mosques, schools and Turkish baths, Istanbul becomes one of the world’s largest cities where Jewish, Christians and Muslims live in harmony for 50 years.

It was transformed into a modern city with countless developments such as a bridge over the Golden Horn, a tunnel in Karaköy, railways, sea transportation in the city, municipalities and hospitals. It is occupied by Allied Powers in 1981.

The 2500-year era, during which Istanbul was a capital city, ended on 29 October 1923 with the founding of the Republic. However, after this date, it was to take steady steps into becoming one of the most crowded and developed cities in the world in terms of economy and culture.

With its young population, Istanbul has played a great role in the modernisation of Turkey and today it has become a great city integrated with the rest of the world in many sectors. It is the first metropolitan to pop to mind when one thinks of qualified work force, culture and entertainment.

Today, Istanbul has 39 districts. 25 of these are located on the European side of the city while the other 14 are located on the Anatolian Side. Istanbul is one of the world’s largest metropolitans in terms of finance and population, being home to 14,160,467 people.


HISTORY

The site of Istanbul was ruled first by Mycenae (1400 BC), then Frigians and then Chalcedons who were a Greek people that settled in Kadikoy.
The people of Megara that had lived in this area since 800 BC established the first colonial city settlement under the leader, the Byzantine Empire in Saraybumu. The people of Megara who were ruled by various tribes were included in the Byzantine Empire in 64 BC with the name Byzantion. The Empire, Septimius Severus, started the building of the Coliseum which was going to be a characteristic of the city later on in 189 BC in the city which he previously had turned into a wreck. However, he could not complete this construction. The Hippodrome, At Meydani (the Horse Arena) as named by the Ottoman people, was thus established. Empire Constantine completed the construction of the Hippodrome as he almost recreated the city in the middle of the 4 century AC. Although the city was officially named as the “New Rome” in this period, the name Constantinople was widely used.
The first city walls surrounded the district of Eminonu and they took their final shape when they expanded to the west as a result of the expansion of the city during the rulership of Empire Theodosius in the 5th century. While the palace of the empire and government offices took place around the

1- Mosaic that describes the foundation of İstanbul 2- A copy of Buondelmonti’s map showing the city as it was in 1422 3- Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II who conguered İstanbul in 11453

ranked officials governing the state settled in districts around the palace. Military garrisons were located at the western side of the city and the area that starts from Sarayburnu in the Golden Horn and stretches to Unkapanı was established as the port area. “Forums” which were bazaars that stretched from the government area to inside the city and the road names as “Messe” were also established during this period. The Ottoman people maintained this tradition and named this road as Divanyolu (the Council Road). Constantinus II opened Hagia Sophia, a work of art and an inheritance of the world, in the year 360. This building was destroyed during an uprising which broke out in the year 404. Thedosius II ordered the reconstruction of Hagia Sophia and opened it in the year 415. However, it was destroyed again during the Nika uprising in 532. It was reconstructed upon the order of Empire Justinianus in 537 for the third and last time. It was finally turned into a museum in 1934. Istanbul was heavily destroyed by the Latin invasion of 1204 during the crusades and some works were smuggled. Istanbul which was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 sustained its characteristic of being the most densely populated metropolitan city through the Middle Age. Istanbul had been considered to be a world capital since 4 BC to the end of the 18th century.

1- Süleymaniye Mosque is one of the parts of the silhouette of İstanbul which took on an Islamic character after the conquest.

2- The Empire lifestyle during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras has been reflected to ceremonies on the Sultanahmet square with all details.

1-Viev of the hippodrome and its surroundings near the end of 16th ceury. (According to O. Panvinio, De ludis circensibus, Venice, 1600) 2- Kızkulesi (The maiden’s tower)

KIZKULESI(THE MAIDEN’S TOWER)

The Maiden’s Tower whose history dates back to the 4th century BC constitutes an important part of the silhouette of Istanbul. When it became necessary to lighten the small rock at the entrance of the Bosporus, a tower and lighthouse was built here. Although it was also used for other purposes, the tower had always been used as a lighthouse. When the empire was told that his daughter was going to die as a result of snakebite, locked his daughter in this tower in fear and his daughter died after being bitten by a snake hidden in the fruit basket sent by the prince. This is the most common legend about the tower.

Örnek bileşen

Varsayılan olarak sol yan sütununun nasıl görüntülendiğini görebilmeniz için örnek bir bileşendir. Yönetim panelindeki Bileşenler ekranından özel bileşenler ekleyebilirsiniz. Özel bileşenler eklendiğinde buradakiler eklenenlerle değiştirilecektir.


Contents

The first known name of the city is Byzantium (Greek: Βυζάντιον , Byzántion), the name given to it at its foundation by Megarian colonists around 657 BCE. [9] [18] Megaran colonists claimed a direct line back to the founders of the city, Byzas, the son of the god Poseidon and the nymph Ceroëssa. [18] Modern excavations has raised the possibility that the name Byzantium might reflect the sites of native Thracian settlements that preceded the fully fledged town. [19] Constantinople comes from the Latin name Constantinus, after Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor who refounded the city in 324 CE. [18] Constantinople remained the most common name for the city in the West until the 1930s, when Turkish authorities began to press for the use of "Istanbul" in foreign languages. Kostantiniyye (Ottoman Turkish: قسطنطينيه ‎), Be Makam-e Qonstantiniyyah al-Mahmiyyah (meaning "the Protected Location of Constantinople") and İstanbul were the names used alternatively by the Ottomans during their rule. [20]

The name İstanbul (Turkish pronunciation: [isˈtanbuɫ] ( listen ) , colloquially [ɯsˈtambuɫ] ) is commonly held to derive from the Medieval Greek phrase "εἰς τὴν Πόλιν" (pronounced [is tim ˈbolin] ), which means "to the city" [21] and is how Constantinople was referred to by the local Greeks. This reflected its status as the only major city in the vicinity. The importance of Constantinople in the Ottoman world was also reflected by its Ottoman nickname Der Saadet meaning the "Gate to Prosperity" in Ottoman Turkish. [22] An alternative view is that the name evolved directly from the name Constantinople, with the first and third syllables dropped. [18] Some Ottoman sources of the 17th century, such as Evliya Çelebi, describe it as the common Turkish name of the time between the late 17th and late 18th centuries, it was also in official use. The first use of the word Islambol on coinage was in 1730 during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I. [23] In modern Turkish, the name is written as İstanbul, with a dotted İ, as the Turkish alphabet distinguishes between a dotted and dotless I. In English the stress is on the first or last syllable, but in Turkish it is on the second syllable (tan). [24] A person from the city is an İstanbullu (plural: İstanbullular) Istanbulite is used in English. [25]

Neolithic artifacts, uncovered by archeologists at the beginning of the 21st century, indicate that Istanbul's historic peninsula was settled as far back as the 6th millennium BCE. [26] That early settlement, important in the spread of the Neolithic Revolution from the Near East to Europe, lasted for almost a millennium before being inundated by rising water levels. [27] [26] [28] [29] The first human settlement on the Asian side, the Fikirtepe mound, is from the Copper Age period, with artifacts dating from 5500 to 3500 BCE, [30] On the European side, near the point of the peninsula (Sarayburnu), there was a Thracian settlement during the early 1st millennium BCE. Modern authors have linked it to the Thracian toponym Lygos, [31] mentioned by Pliny the Elder as an earlier name for the site of Byzantium. [32]

The history of the city proper begins around 660 BCE, [9] [33] [c] when Greek settlers from Megara established Byzantium on the European side of the Bosphorus. The settlers built an acropolis adjacent to the Golden Horn on the site of the early Thracian settlements, fueling the nascent city's economy. [39] The city experienced a brief period of Persian rule at the turn of the 5th century BCE, but the Greeks recaptured it during the Greco-Persian Wars. [40] Byzantium then continued as part of the Athenian League and its successor, the Second Athenian League, before gaining independence in 355 BCE. [41] Long allied with the Romans, Byzantium officially became a part of the Roman Empire in 73 CE. [42] Byzantium's decision to side with the Roman usurper Pescennius Niger against Emperor Septimius Severus cost it dearly by the time it surrendered at the end of 195 CE, two years of siege had left the city devastated. [43] Five years later, Severus began to rebuild Byzantium, and the city regained—and, by some accounts, surpassed—its previous prosperity. [44]

Rise and fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire

Constantine the Great effectively became the emperor of the whole of the Roman Empire in September 324. [46] Two months later, he laid out the plans for a new, Christian city to replace Byzantium. As the eastern capital of the empire, the city was named Nova Roma most called it Constantinople, a name that persisted into the 20th century. [47] On 11 May 330, Constantinople was proclaimed the capital of the Roman Empire, which was later permanently divided between the two sons of Theodosius I upon his death on 17 January 395, when the city became the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. [48]

The establishment of Constantinople was one of Constantine's most lasting accomplishments, shifting Roman power eastward as the city became a center of Greek culture and Christianity. [48] [49] Numerous churches were built across the city, including Hagia Sophia which was built during the reign of Justinian the Great and remained the world's largest cathedral for a thousand years. [50] Constantine also undertook a major renovation and expansion of the Hippodrome of Constantinople accommodating tens of thousands of spectators, the hippodrome became central to civic life and, in the 5th and 6th centuries, the center of episodes of unrest, including the Nika riots. [51] [52] Constantinople's location also ensured its existence would stand the test of time for many centuries, its walls and seafront protected Europe against invaders from the east and the advance of Islam. [49] During most of the Middle Ages, the latter part of the Byzantine era, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city on the European continent and at times the largest in the world. [53] [54]

Constantinople began to decline continuously after the end of the reign of Basil II in 1025. The Fourth Crusade was diverted from its purpose in 1204, and the city was sacked and pillaged by the crusaders. [55] They established the Latin Empire in place of the Orthodox Byzantine Empire. [56] Hagia Sophia was converted to a Catholic church in 1204. The Byzantine Empire was restored, albeit weakened, in 1261. [57] Constantinople's churches, defenses, and basic services were in disrepair, [58] and its population had dwindled to a hundred thousand from half a million during the 8th century. [d] After the reconquest of 1261, however, some of the city's monuments were restored, and some, like the two Deesis mosaics in Hagia Sofia and Kariye, were created. [59]

Various economic and military policies instituted by Andronikos II, such as the reduction of military forces, weakened the empire and left it vulnerable to attack. [60] In the mid-14th-century, the Ottoman Turks began a strategy of gradually taking smaller towns and cities, cutting off Constantinople's supply routes and strangling it slowly. [61] On 29 May 1453, after an eight-week siege (during which the last Roman emperor, Constantine XI, was killed), Sultan Mehmed II "the Conqueror" captured Constantinople and declared it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Hours later, the sultan rode to the Hagia Sophia and summoned an imam to proclaim the Islamic creed, converting the grand cathedral into an imperial mosque due to the city's refusal to surrender peacefully. [62] Mehmed declared himself as the new Kayser-i Rûm (the Ottoman Turkish equivalent of the Caesar of Rome) and the Ottoman state was reorganized into an empire. [63]

Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic eras

Following the conquest of Constantinople, [e] Mehmed II immediately set out to revitalize the city. Cognizant that revitalization would fail without the repopulation of the city, Mehmed II welcomed everyone–foreigners, criminals, and runaways– showing extraordinary openness and willingness to incorporate outsiders that came to define Ottoman political culture. [65] He also invited people from all over Europe to his capital, creating a cosmopolitan society that persisted through much of the Ottoman period. [66] Revitalizing Istanbul also required a massive program of restorations, of everything from roads to aqueducts. [67] Like many monarchs before and since, Mehmed II transformed Istanbul's urban landscape with wholesale redevelopment of the city center. [68] There was a huge new palace to rival, if not overshadow, the old one, a new covered market (still standing as the Grand Bazaar), porticoes, pavilions, walkways, as well as more than a dozen new mosques. [67] Mehmed II turned the ramshackle old town into something that looked like an imperial capital. [68]

Social hierarchy was ignored by the rampant plague, which killed the rich and the poor alike in the sixteenth century. [69] Money could not protect the rich from all the discomforts and harsher sides of Istanbul. [69] Although the Sultan lived at a safe remove from the masses, and the wealthy and poor tended to live side by side, for the most part Istanbul was not zoned as modern cities are. [69] Opulent houses shared the same streets and districts with tiny hovels. [69] Those rich enough to have secluded country properties had a chance of escaping the periodic epidemics of sickness that blighted Istanbul. [69]

The Ottoman Dynasty claimed the status of caliphate in 1517, with Constantinople remaining the capital of this last caliphate for four centuries. [12] Suleiman the Magnificent's reign from 1520 to 1566 was a period of especially great artistic and architectural achievement chief architect Mimar Sinan designed several iconic buildings in the city, while Ottoman arts of ceramics, stained glass, calligraphy, and miniature flourished. [70] The population of Constantinople was 570,000 by the end of the 18th century. [71]

A period of rebellion at the start of the 19th century led to the rise of the progressive Sultan Mahmud II and eventually to the Tanzimat period, which produced political reforms and allowed new technology to be introduced to the city. [72] Bridges across the Golden Horn were constructed during this period, [73] and Constantinople was connected to the rest of the European railway network in the 1880s. [74] Modern facilities, such as a water supply network, electricity, telephones, and trams, were gradually introduced to Constantinople over the following decades, although later than to other European cities. [75] The modernization efforts were not enough to forestall the decline of the Ottoman Empire. [76]

Sultan Abdul Hamid II was deposed with the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 and the Ottoman Parliament, closed since 14 February 1878, was reopened 30 years later on 23 July 1908, which marked the beginning of the Second Constitutional Era. [77] A series of wars in the early 20th century, such as the Italo-Turkish War (1911–1912) and the Balkan Wars (1912–1913), plagued the ailing empire's capital and resulted in the 1913 Ottoman coup d'état, which brought the regime of the Three Pashas. [78]

The Ottoman Empire joined World War I (1914–1918) on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. The deportation of Armenian intellectuals on 24 April 1915 was among the major events which marked the start of the Armenian genocide during WWI. [79] Due to Ottoman and Turkish policies of Turkification and ethnic cleansing, the city's Christian population declined from 450,000 to 240,000 between 1914 and 1927. [80] The Armistice of Mudros was signed on 30 October 1918 and the Allies occupied Constantinople on 13 November 1918. The Ottoman Parliament was dissolved by the Allies on 11 April 1920 and the Ottoman delegation led by Damat Ferid Pasha was forced to sign the Treaty of Sèvres on 10 August 1920. [ citation needed ]

Following the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922), the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara abolished the Sultanate on 1 November 1922, and the last Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed VI, was declared persona non grata. Leaving aboard the British warship HMS Malaya on 17 November 1922, he went into exile and died in Sanremo, Italy, on 16 May 1926. The Treaty of Lausanne was signed on 24 July 1923, and the occupation of Constantinople ended with the departure of the last forces of the Allies from the city on 4 October 1923. [82] Turkish forces of the Ankara government, commanded by Şükrü Naili Pasha (3rd Corps), entered the city with a ceremony on 6 October 1923, which has been marked as the Liberation Day of Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul'un Kurtuluşu) and is commemorated every year on its anniversary. [82] On 29 October 1923 the Grand National Assembly of Turkey declared the establishment of the Turkish Republic, with Ankara as its capital. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became the Republic's first President. [83] [84] According to historian Philip Mansel:

after the departure of the dynasty in 1925, from being the most international city in Europe, Constantinople became one of the most nationalistic. Unlike Vienna, Constantinople turned its back on the past. Even its name was changed. Constantinople was dropped because of its Ottoman and international associations. From 1926 the post office only accepted Istanbul it appeared more Turkish and was used by most Turks. [85] [ page needed ]

A 1942 wealth tax assessed mainly on non-Muslims led to the transfer or liquidation of many businesses owned by religious minorities. [86] From the late 1940s and early 1950s, Istanbul underwent great structural change, as new public squares, boulevards, and avenues were constructed throughout the city, sometimes at the expense of historical buildings. [87] The population of Istanbul began to rapidly increase in the 1970s, as people from Anatolia migrated to the city to find employment in the many new factories that were built on the outskirts of the sprawling metropolis. This sudden, sharp rise in the city's population caused a large demand for housing, and many previously outlying villages and forests became engulfed into the metropolitan area of Istanbul. [88]

Istanbul is located in north-western Turkey and straddles the strait Bosporus, which provides the only passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean via the Sea of Marmara. [15] Historically, the city has been ideally situated for trade and defense: The confluence of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn provide both ideal defense against enemy attack and a natural toll-gate. [15] Several picturesque islands—Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, Kınalıada, and five smaller islands—are part of the city. [15] Istanbul's shoreline has grown beyond its natural limits. Large sections of Caddebostan sit on areas of landfill, increasing the total area of the city to 5,343 square kilometers (2,063 sq mi). [15]

Despite the myth that seven hills make up the city, there are in fact more than 50 hills within the city limits. Istanbul's tallest hill, Aydos, is 537 meters (1,762 ft) high. [15]

The nearby North Anatolian Fault is responsible for much earthquake activity, although it doesn't physically pass through the city itself. [89] North Anatolian Fault caused the earthquakes in 1766 and 1894. [89] The threat of major earthquakes plays a large role in the city's infrastructure development, with over 500,000 [89] vulnerable buildings demolished and replaced since 2012. [90] The city has repeatedly upgraded its building codes, most recently in 2018, [90] requiring retrofits for older buildings and higher engineering standards for new construction.

Climate

Istanbul has a borderline Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa, Trewartha Cs), humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa, Trewartha Cf) and oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb, Trewartha Do) under both classifications. It experiences cool winters with frequent precipitation, and warm to hot (mean temperature peaking at 20 °C (68 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F) in August, depending on location), moderately dry summers. [91] Spring and fall are usually mild, with varying conditions dependent on wind direction. [92] [93]

Istanbul's weather is strongly influenced by the Sea of Marmara to the south, and the Black Sea to the north. This moderates temperature swings and produces a mild temperate climate with low diurnal temperature variation. Consequently, Istanbul's temperatures almost always oscillate between −5 °C (23 °F) and 32 °C (90 °F), [94] and most of the city does not experience temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) for more than 14 days a year. [95] Another effect of Istanbul's maritime position is its persistently high dew points, near-saturation morning humidity, [96] and frequent fog, [97] [94] which also limits Istanbul's sunshine hours to levels closer to Western Europe. [98]

As Istanbul is only slightly rain shadowed from Mediterranean storms and is otherwise surrounded by water, it usually receives some amount of precipitation from both Western European and Mediterranean systems. This results in frequent precipitation during the winter months January averages 20 days of precipitation when counting trace accumulations, [99] 17 when using a 0.1 mm threshold, and 12 when using a 1.0 mm threshold. [100]

Because of its hilly topography and maritime influences, Istanbul exhibits a multitude of distinct microclimates. [101] Within the city, rainfall varies widely owing to the rain shadow of the hills in Istanbul, from around 600 millimeters (24 in) on the southern fringe at Florya to 1,200 millimeters (47 in) on the northern fringe at Bahçeköy. [102] Furthermore, while the city itself lies in USDA hardiness zones 9a to 9b, its inland suburbs lie in zone 8b with isolated pockets of zone 8a, restricting the cultivation of cold-hardy subtropical plants to the coasts. [95] [103]

Despite the fact that it does not have the cold winters typical of such cities, Istanbul averages more than 60 centimeters (24 in) of snow a year, making it the snowiest major city in the Mediterranean basin. [94] [104] This is largely caused by lake-effect snow, which forms when cold air, upon contact with the Black Sea, develops into moist and unstable air that ascends to form snow squalls along the lee shores of the Black Sea. [105] These snow squalls are heavy snow bands and occasionally thundersnows, with accumulation rates approaching 5–8 centimeters (2.0–3.1 in) per hour. [106]

The highest recorded temperature at the official downtown observation station in Sarıyer was 41.5 °C (107 °F) and on 13 July 2000. [105] The lowest recorded temperature was −16.1 °C (3 °F) on 9 February 1929. [105] The highest recorded snow cover in the city center was 80 centimeters (31 in) on 4 January 1942, and 104 centimeters (41 in) in the northern suburbs on 11 January 2017. [107] [105] [108]

Climate data for Kireçburnu, Istanbul (normals 1981–2010, extremes 1929–2018, snowy days 1996-2011)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.4
(72.3)
24.6
(76.3)
29.3
(84.7)
33.6
(92.5)
36.4
(97.5)
40.2
(104.4)
41.5
(106.7)
40.5
(104.9)
39.6
(103.3)
34.2
(93.6)
27.8
(82.0)
25.5
(77.9)
41.5
(106.7)
Average high °C (°F) 8.5
(47.3)
8.7
(47.7)
10.9
(51.6)
15.5
(59.9)
20.1
(68.2)
25.0
(77.0)
26.9
(80.4)
27.2
(81.0)
23.8
(74.8)
19.2
(66.6)
14.2
(57.6)
10.4
(50.7)
17.5
(63.5)
Daily mean °C (°F) 5.8
(42.4)
5.5
(41.9)
7.3
(45.1)
11.2
(52.2)
15.7
(60.3)
20.5
(68.9)
22.9
(73.2)
23.4
(74.1)
19.9
(67.8)
15.8
(60.4)
11.0
(51.8)
7.8
(46.0)
13.9
(57.0)
Average low °C (°F) 3.5
(38.3)
2.9
(37.2)
4.4
(39.9)
7.8
(46.0)
12.2
(54.0)
16.7
(62.1)
19.7
(67.5)
20.4
(68.7)
16.8
(62.2)
13.2
(55.8)
8.5
(47.3)
5.5
(41.9)
11.0
(51.8)
Record low °C (°F) −13.9
(7.0)
−16.1
(3.0)
−11.1
(12.0)
−2.0
(28.4)
1.4
(34.5)
7.1
(44.8)
10.5
(50.9)
10.2
(50.4)
6.0
(42.8)
0.6
(33.1)
−7.2
(19.0)
−11.5
(11.3)
−16.1
(3.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 99.5
(3.92)
82.1
(3.23)
69.2
(2.72)
43.1
(1.70)
31.5
(1.24)
40.6
(1.60)
39.6
(1.56)
41.9
(1.65)
64.4
(2.54)
102.3
(4.03)
110.3
(4.34)
125.1
(4.93)
849.6
(33.45)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 18.4
(7.2)
19.1
(7.5)
9.9
(3.9)
trace 0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
trace 14.1
(5.6)
61.5
(24.2)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 16.9 15.2 13.2 10.0 7.4 7.0 4.7 5.1 8.1 12.3 13.9 17.5 131.3
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 cm) 4.5 4.7 2.9 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 2.7 15.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 68.2 89.6 142.6 180.0 248.0 297.6 319.3 288.3 234.0 158.1 93.0 62.0 2,180.7
Mean daily sunshine hours 2.2 3.2 4.6 6.0 8.0 9.6 10.3 9.3 7.8 5.1 3.1 2.0 5.9
Mean daily daylight hours 10 11 12 13 14 15 15 14 12 11 10 9 12
Percent possible sunshine 22 29 38 46 57 64 69 66 65 46 31 22 46
Average ultraviolet index 2 2 4 5 7 8 9 8 6 4 2 1 5
Source: [105] [109] [110]
Climate data for Florya, Istanbul (normals 1981–2010, extremes 1950–2021, snowy days 1990-2005)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.7
(67.5)
24.0
(75.2)
25.1
(77.2)
29.6
(85.3)
33.8
(92.8)
39.2
(102.6)
40.0
(104.0)
39.4
(102.9)
37.5
(99.5)
34.0
(93.2)
28.0
(82.4)
22.5
(72.5)
40.0
(104.0)
Average high °C (°F) 8.6
(47.5)
8.8
(47.8)
11.3
(52.3)
16.5
(61.7)
21.5
(70.7)
26.4
(79.5)
28.9
(84.0)
29.1
(84.4)
25.1
(77.2)
19.9
(67.8)
14.5
(58.1)
10.5
(50.9)
18.4
(65.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.0
(42.8)
5.8
(42.4)
7.9
(46.2)
12.3
(54.1)
17.2
(63.0)
22.0
(71.6)
24.6
(76.3)
24.9
(76.8)
21.0
(69.8)
16.5
(61.7)
11.5
(52.7)
8.0
(46.4)
14.8
(58.7)
Average low °C (°F) 3.4
(38.1)
2.9
(37.2)
4.5
(40.1)
8.1
(46.6)
12.9
(55.2)
17.6
(63.7)
20.3
(68.5)
20.7
(69.3)
17.0
(62.6)
13.2
(55.8)
8.5
(47.3)
5.5
(41.9)
11.2
(52.2)
Record low °C (°F) −12.6
(9.3)
−9.0
(15.8)
−7.1
(19.2)
−2.8
(27.0)
0.5
(32.9)
4.7
(40.5)
10.0
(50.0)
9.0
(48.2)
7.4
(45.3)
−0.6
(30.9)
−2.9
(26.8)
−6.8
(19.8)
−12.6
(9.3)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 77.8
(3.06)
72.3
(2.85)
59.1
(2.33)
44.8
(1.76)
41.9
(1.65)
35.9
(1.41)
30.0
(1.18)
43.2
(1.70)
39.3
(1.55)
90.0
(3.54)
85.7
(3.37)
103.0
(4.06)
723.1
(28.47)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 17.0 16.8 15.1 10.3 7.7 5.9 3.4 5.1 8.4 11.7 12.1 16.3 129.8
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 cm) 2.7 3.5 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 1.0 8.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 78.9 79.1 117.0 149.2 196.3 214.9 247.3 224.3 167.0 121.8 90.0 70.3 1,756.1
Mean daily sunshine hours 2.5 2.8 3.8 5.0 6.3 7.2 7.9 7.2 5.5 3.9 3.0 2.3 4.8
Percent possible sunshine 25 26 32 42 45 48 52 51 46 35 30 25 38
Source: [111] [112]
Climate data for Bahçeköy, Istanbul (normals and extremes 1981–2010, snowy days 1990-1999)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.3
(77.5)
27.3
(81.1)
27.2
(81.0)
33.6
(92.5)
34.4
(93.9)
36.6
(97.9)
38.7
(101.7)
38.0
(100.4)
38.2
(100.8)
35.7
(96.3)
28.0
(82.4)
23.8
(74.8)
38.7
(101.7)
Average high °C (°F) 7.6
(45.7)
8.3
(46.9)
10.2
(50.4)
16.4
(61.5)
20.6
(69.1)
25.0
(77.0)
26.4
(79.5)
26.6
(79.9)
23.7
(74.7)
19.0
(66.2)
14.2
(57.6)
9.8
(49.6)
17.3
(63.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.6
(40.3)
4.0
(39.2)
5.9
(42.6)
10.3
(50.5)
15.4
(59.7)
19.8
(67.6)
21.5
(70.7)
21.6
(70.9)
18.1
(64.6)
14.1
(57.4)
9.5
(49.1)
6.3
(43.3)
12.6
(54.7)
Average low °C (°F) 1.3
(34.3)
1.1
(34.0)
2.5
(36.5)
6.4
(43.5)
10.6
(51.1)
14.7
(58.5)
17.0
(62.6)
17.9
(64.2)
13.9
(57.0)
10.7
(51.3)
6.8
(44.2)
3.4
(38.1)
8.9
(47.9)
Record low °C (°F) −16.0
(3.2)
−15.4
(4.3)
−10.6
(12.9)
−3.1
(26.4)
0.9
(33.6)
5.7
(42.3)
7.8
(46.0)
8.0
(46.4)
3.1
(37.6)
−1.2
(29.8)
−4.3
(24.3)
−9.8
(14.4)
−16.0
(3.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 163.7
(6.44)
112.5
(4.43)
101.3
(3.99)
68.3
(2.69)
55.8
(2.20)
47.4
(1.87)
45.3
(1.78)
71.9
(2.83)
79.6
(3.13)
119.0
(4.69)
164.3
(6.47)
188.3
(7.41)
1,217.4
(47.93)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 15.8 14.2 12.9 10.1 8.3 6.9 5.8 5.9 7.4 12.6 15.4 19.8 135.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 cm) 4.6 5.2 1.7 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 4.0 16.2
Source: [113] [114]
Climate data for Istanbul
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average sea temperature °C (°F) 8.4
(47.1)
7.7
(45.9)
8.3
(46.9)
10.2
(50.4)
15.5
(59.9)
21.3
(70.3)
24.6
(76.3)
24.9
(76.8)
22.8
(73.0)
18.4
(65.1)
13.8
(56.8)
10.5
(50.9)
15.5
(60.0)
Source: Weather Atlas [115]

Climate change

As with virtually every part of the world, climate change is causing more heatwaves, [116] droughts, [117] storms, [118] and flooding [119] [120] in Istanbul. Furthermore, as Istanbul is a large and rapidly expanding city, its urban heat island has been intensifying the effects of climate change. [94] Considering past data, [121] it is very likely that these two factors are responsible for urban Istanbul's shift, from a warm-summer climate to a hot-summer one in the Köppen climate classification, and from the cool temperate zone to the warm temperate/subtropical zone in the Trewartha climate classification. [122] [123] [124] If trends continue, sea level rise is likely to affect city infrastructure, for example Kadıkoy metro station is threatened with flooding. [125] Xeriscaping of green spaces has been suggested, [126] and Istanbul has a climate-change action plan. [127]

The Fatih district, which was named after Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (Turkish: Fatih Sultan Mehmed), corresponds to what was, until the Ottoman conquest in 1453, the whole of the city of Constantinople (today is the capital district and called the historic peninsula of Istanbul) on the southern shore of the Golden Horn, across the medieval Genoese citadel of Galata on the northern shore. The Genoese fortifications in Galata were largely demolished in the 19th century, leaving only the Galata Tower, to make way for the northward expansion of the city. [128] Galata (Karaköy) is today a quarter within the Beyoğlu (Pera) district, which forms Istanbul's commercial and entertainment center and includes İstiklal Avenue and Taksim Square. [129]

Dolmabahçe Palace, the seat of government during the late Ottoman period, is in the Beşiktaş district on the European shore of the Bosphorus strait, to the north of Beyoğlu. The Sublime Porte (Bâb-ı Âli), which became a metonym for the Ottoman government, was originally used to describe the Imperial Gate (Bâb-ı Hümâyun) at the outermost courtyard of the Topkapı Palace but after the 18th century, the Sublime Porte (or simply Porte) began to refer to the gate of the Sadrazamlık (Prime Ministry) compound in the Cağaloğlu quarter near Topkapı Palace, where the offices of the Sadrazam (Grand Vizier) and other Viziers were, and where foreign diplomats were received. The former village of Ortaköy is within Beşiktaş and gives its name to the Ortaköy Mosque on the Bosphorus, near the Bosphorus Bridge. Lining both the European and Asian shores of the Bosphorus are the historic yalıs, luxurious chalet mansions built by Ottoman aristocrats and elites as summer homes. [130] Farther inland, outside the city's inner ring road, are Levent and Maslak, Istanbul's main business districts. [131]

During the Ottoman period, Üsküdar (then Scutari) and Kadıköy were outside the scope of the urban area, serving as tranquil outposts with seaside yalıs and gardens. But in the second half of the 20th century, the Asian side experienced major urban growth the late development of this part of the city led to better infrastructure and tidier urban planning when compared with most other residential areas in the city. [132] Much of the Asian side of the Bosphorus functions as a suburb of the economic and commercial centers in European Istanbul, accounting for a third of the city's population but only a quarter of its employment. [132] As a result of Istanbul's exponential growth in the 20th century, a significant portion of the city is composed of gecekondus (literally "built overnight"), referring to illegally constructed squatter buildings. [133] At present, some gecekondu areas are being gradually demolished and replaced by modern mass-housing compounds. [134] Moreover, large scale gentrification and urban renewal projects have been taking place, [135] such as the one in Tarlabaşı [136] some of these projects, like the one in Sulukule, have faced criticism. [137] The Turkish government also has ambitious plans for an expansion of the city west and northwards on the European side in conjunction with plans for a third airport the new parts of the city will include four different settlements with specified urban functions, housing 1.5 million people. [138]

Istanbul does not have a primary urban park, but it has several green areas. Gülhane Park and Yıldız Park were originally included within the grounds of two of Istanbul's palaces—Topkapı Palace and Yıldız Palace—but they were repurposed as public parks in the early decades of the Turkish Republic. [139] Another park, Fethi Paşa Korusu, is on a hillside adjacent to the Bosphorus Bridge in Anatolia, opposite Yıldız Palace in Europe. Along the European side, and close to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, is Emirgan Park, which was known as the Kyparades (Cypress Forest) during the Byzantine period. In the Ottoman period, it was first granted to Nişancı Feridun Ahmed Bey in the 16th century, before being granted by Sultan Murad IV to the Safavid Emir Gûne Han in the 17th century, hence the name Emirgan. The 47-hectare (120-acre) park was later owned by Khedive Ismail Pasha of Ottoman Egypt and Sudan in the 19th century. Emirgan Park is known for its diversity of plants and an annual tulip festival is held there since 2005. [140] The AKP government's decision to replace Taksim Gezi Park with a replica of the Ottoman era Taksim Military Barracks (which was transformed into the Taksim Stadium in 1921, before being demolished in 1940 for building Gezi Park) sparked a series of nationwide protests in 2013 covering a wide range of issues. Popular during the summer among Istanbulites is Belgrad Forest, spreading across 5,500 hectares (14,000 acres) at the northern edge of the city. The forest originally supplied water to the city and remnants of reservoirs used during Byzantine and Ottoman times survive. [141] [142]

Architecture

Istanbul is primarily known for its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, and despite its development as a Turkish city since 1453, contains a vast array of ancient, Roman, Byzantine, Christian, Muslim and Jewish monuments.

The Neolithic settlement in the Yenikapı quarter on the European side, which dates back to c. 6500 BCE and predates the formation of the Bosporus strait by approximately a millennium (when the Sea of Marmara was still a lake) [144] was discovered during the construction of the Marmaray railway tunnel. [26] It is the oldest known human settlement on the European side of the city. [26] The oldest known human settlement on the Asian side is the Fikirtepe Mound near Kadıköy, with relics dating to c. 5500-3500 BCE (Chalcolithic period).

There are numerous ancient monuments in the city. [147] The most ancient is the Obelisk of Thutmose III (Obelisk of Theodosius). [147] Built of red granite, 31 m (100 ft) high, it came from the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, and was erected there by Pharaoh Thutmose III (r. 1479–1425 BCE) to the south of the seventh pylon. [147] The Roman emperor Constantius II (r. 337–361 CE) had it and another obelisk transported along the River Nile to Alexandria for commemorating his ventennalia or 20 years on the throne in 357. The other obelisk was erected on the spina of the Circus Maximus in Rome in the autumn of that year, and is now known as the Lateran Obelisk. The obelisk that would become the Obelisk of Theodosius remained in Alexandria until 390 CE, when Theodosius I (r. 379–395 CE) had it transported to Constantinople and put up on the spina of the Hippodrome there. [148] When re-erected at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the obelisk was mounted on a decorative base, with reliefs that depict Theodosius I and his courtiers. [147] The lower part of the obelisk was damaged in antiquity, probably during its transport to Alexandria in 357 CE or during its re-erection at the Hippodrome of Constantinople in 390 CE. As a result, the current height of the obelisk is only 18.54 meters, or 25.6 meters if the base is included. Between the four corners of the obelisk and the pedestal are four bronze cubes, used in its transportation and re-erection. [149]

Next in age is the Serpent Column, from 479 BCE. [147] It was brought from Delphi in 324 CE, during the reign of Constantine the Great, and also erected at the spina of the Hippodrome. [147] It was originally part of an ancient Greek sacrificial tripod in Delphi that was erected to commemorate the Greeks who fought and defeated the Persian Empire at the Battle of Plataea (479 BCE). The three serpent heads of the 8-meter (26 ft) high column remained intact until the end of the 17th century (one is on display at the nearby Istanbul Archaeology Museums). [150]

Built in porphyry and erected at the center of the Forum of Constantine in 330 CE to mark the founding of the new Roman capital, the Column of Constantine was originally adorned with a sculpture of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great depicted as the solar god Apollo on its top, which fell in 1106 and was later replaced by a cross during the reign of Byzantine emperor Manuel Komnenos (r. 1143–1180). [17] [147]

There are traces of the Byzantine era throughout the city, from ancient churches that were built over early Christian meeting places like the Hagia Irene, the Chora Church, the Monastery of Stoudios, the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, the Monastery of the Pantocrator, the Monastery of Christ Pantepoptes, the Hagia Theodosia, the Church of Theotokos Kyriotissa, the Monastery of Constantine Lips, the Church of Myrelaion, the Hagios Theodoros, etc. to public places like the Hippodrome, the Augustaion, or the Basilica Cistern. The 4th century Harbor of Theodosius in Yenikapı, once the busiest port in Constantinople, was among the numerous archeological discoveries that took place during the excavations of the Marmaray tunnel. [26]

It is the Hagia Sophia, however, that fully conveys the period of Constantinople as a city without parallel in Christendom. The Hagia Sophia, topped by a dome 31 meters (102 ft) in diameter over a square space defined by four arches, is the pinnacle of the Byzantine architecture. [152] The Hagia Sophia stood as the world's largest cathedral in the world until it was converted into a mosque in the 15th century. [152] The minarets date from that period. [152]

Over the next four centuries, the Ottomans transformed Istanbul's urban landscape with a vast building scheme that included the construction of towering mosques and ornate palaces. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), another landmark of the city, faces the Hagia Sophia at Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome of Constantinople). The Süleymaniye Mosque, built by Suleiman the Magnificent, was designed by his chief architect Mimar Sinan, the most illustrious of all Ottoman architects, who designed many of the city's renowned mosques and other types of public buildings and monuments. [153]

Among the oldest surviving examples of Ottoman architecture in Istanbul are the Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı fortresses, which assisted the Ottomans during their siege of the city. [154] Over the next four centuries, the Ottomans made an indelible impression on the skyline of Istanbul, building towering mosques and ornate palaces.

Topkapı Palace, dating back to 1465, is the oldest seat of government surviving in Istanbul. Mehmed the Conqueror built the original palace as his main residence and the seat of government. [155] The present palace grew over the centuries as a series of additions enfolding four courtyards and blending neoclassical, rococo, and baroque architectural forms. [156] In 1639, Murad IV made some of the most lavish additions, including the Baghdad Kiosk, to commemorate his conquest of Baghdad the previous year. [157] Government meetings took place here until 1786, when the seat of government was moved to the Sublime Porte. [155] After several hundred years of royal residence, it was abandoned in 1853 in favor of the baroque Dolmabahçe Palace. [156] Topkapı Palace became public property following the abolition of monarchy in 1922. [156] After extensive renovation, it became one of Turkey's first national museums in 1924. [155]

The imperial mosques include Fatih Mosque, Bayezid Mosque, Yavuz Selim Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque), and Yeni Mosque, all of which were built at the peak of the Ottoman Empire, in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the following centuries, and especially after the Tanzimat reforms, Ottoman architecture was supplanted by European styles. [158] An example of which is the imperial Nuruosmaniye Mosque. Areas around İstiklal Avenue were filled with grand European embassies and rows of buildings in Neoclassical, Renaissance Revival and Art Nouveau styles, which went on to influence the architecture of a variety of structures in Beyoğlu—including churches, stores, and theaters—and official buildings such as Dolmabahçe Palace. [159]

Since 2004, the municipal boundaries of Istanbul have been coincident with the boundaries of its province. [160] The city, considered capital of the larger Istanbul Province, is administered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (MMI), which oversees the 39 districts of the city-province.

The current city structure can be traced back to the Tanzimat period of reform in the 19th century, before which Islamic judges and imams led the city under the auspices of the Grand Vizier. Following the model of French cities, this religious system was replaced by a mayor and a citywide council composed of representatives of the confessional groups (millet) across the city. Pera (now Beyoğlu) was the first area of the city to have its own director and council, with members instead being longtime residents of the neighborhood. [161] Laws enacted after the Ottoman constitution of 1876 aimed to expand this structure across the city, imitating the twenty arrondissements of Paris, but they were not fully implemented until 1908, when the city was declared a province with nine constituent districts. [162] [163] This system continued beyond the founding of the Turkish Republic, with the province renamed a belediye (municipality), but the municipality was disbanded in 1957. [164]

Small settlements adjacent to major population centers in Turkey, including Istanbul, were merged into their respective primary cities during the early 1980s, resulting in metropolitan municipalities. [165] [166] The main decision-making body of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is the Municipal Council, with members drawn from district councils.

The Municipal Council is responsible for citywide issues, including managing the budget, maintaining civic infrastructure, and overseeing museums and major cultural centers. [167] Since the government operates under a "powerful mayor, weak council" approach, the council's leader—the metropolitan mayor—has the authority to make swift decisions, often at the expense of transparency. [168] The Municipal Council is advised by the Metropolitan Executive Committee, although the committee also has limited power to make decisions of its own. [169] All representatives on the committee are appointed by the metropolitan mayor and the council, with the mayor—or someone of his or her choosing—serving as head. [169] [170]

District councils are chiefly responsible for waste management and construction projects within their respective districts. They each maintain their own budgets, although the metropolitan mayor reserves the right to review district decisions. One-fifth of all district council members, including the district mayors, also represent their districts in the Municipal Council. [167] All members of the district councils and the Municipal Council, including the metropolitan mayor, are elected to five-year terms. [171] Representing the Republican People's Party, Ekrem İmamoğlu has been the Mayor of Istanbul since 27 June 2019. [172]

With the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Istanbul Province having equivalent jurisdictions, few responsibilities remain for the provincial government. Similar to the MMI, the Istanbul Special Provincial Administration has a governor, a democratically elected decision-making body—the Provincial Parliament—and an appointed Executive Committee. Mirroring the executive committee at the municipal level, the Provincial Executive Committee includes a secretary-general and leaders of departments that advise the Provincial Parliament. [170] [173] The Provincial Administration's duties are largely limited to the building and maintenance of schools, residences, government buildings, and roads, and the promotion of arts, culture, and nature conservation. [174] Ali Yerlikaya has been the Governor of Istanbul Province since 26 October 2018. [175]

Throughout most of its history, Istanbul has ranked among the largest cities in the world. By 500 CE, Constantinople had somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 people, edging out its predecessor, Rome, for the world's largest city. [178] Constantinople jostled with other major historical cities, such as Baghdad, Chang'an, Kaifeng and Merv for the position of the world's largest city until the 12th century. It never returned to being the world's largest, but remained the largest city in Europe from 1500 to 1750, when it was surpassed by London. [179]

The Turkish Statistical Institute estimates that the population of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality was 15,519,267 at the end of 2019, hosting 19 percent of the country's population. [180] 64.4% of the residents live on the European side and 35.6% on the Asian side. [180]

Istanbul ranks as the seventh-largest city proper in the world, and the second-largest urban agglomeration in Europe, after Moscow. [181] [182] The city's annual population growth of 1.5 percent ranks as one of the highest among the seventy-eight largest metropolises in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The high population growth mirrors an urbanization trend across the country, as the second and third fastest-growing OECD metropolises are the Turkish cities of Izmir and Ankara. [16]

Istanbul experienced especially rapid growth during the second half of the 20th century, with its population increasing tenfold between 1950 and 2000. [183] This growth was fueled by internal and international migration. Istanbul's foreign population with a residence permit increased dramatically, from 43,000 in 2007 [184] to 856,377 in 2019. [185] [186]

Religious and ethnic groups

Istanbul has been a cosmopolitan city throughout much of its history, but it has become more homogenized since the end of the Ottoman era. Arabs form the city's on of the largest ethnic minorities, with an estimated population of more than 2 million. [187] Following Turkey's support for the Arab Spring, Istanbul emerged as a hub for dissidents from across the Arab world, including former presidential candidates from Egypt, Kuwaiti MPs, and former ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia (including Jamal Khashoggi), Syria, and Yemen. [188] [189] [190] The number of refugees of the Syrian Civil War in Turkey residing in Istanbul is estimated to be around 1 million. [191]

With estimates ranging from 2 to 4 million, Kurds form the other largest ethnic minority in Istanbul. [192] [193] According to a 2006 KONDA study, Kurds constituted 14.8% of Istanbul's total population. [194] Although the Kurdish presence in the city dates back to the early Ottoman period, [195] the majority of Kurds in the city originate from villages in eastern and southeastern Turkey. [196]

Into the 19th century, the Christians of Istanbul tended to be either Greek Orthodox, members of the Armenian Apostolic Church or Catholic Levantines. [197] Greeks and Armenians form the largest Christian population in the city. While Istanbul's Greek population was exempted from the 1923 population exchange with Greece, changes in tax status and the 1955 anti-Greek pogrom prompted thousands to leave. [198] Following Greek migration to the city for work in the 2010s, the Greek population rose to nearly 3,000 in 2019, still greatly diminished since 1919, when it stood at 350,000. [198] There are today 123,363 Armenians in Istanbul, down from a peak of 164,000 in 1913. [199] As of 2019, an estimated 18,000 of the country's 25,000 Christian Assyrians live in Istanbul. [200]

The majority of the Catholic Levantines (Turkish: Levanten) in Istanbul and Izmir are the descendants of traders/colonists from the Italian maritime republics of the Mediterranean (especially Genoa and Venice) and France, who obtained special rights and privileges called the Capitulations from the Ottoman sultans in the 16th century. [202] The community had more than 15,000 members during Atatürk's presidency in the 1920s and 1930s, but today is reduced to only a few hundreds, according to Italo-Levantine writer Giovanni Scognamillo. [203] They continue to live in Istanbul (mostly in Karaköy, Beyoğlu and Nişantaşı), and Izmir (mostly in Karşıyaka, Bornova and Buca).

Istanbul became one of the world's most important Jewish centers in the 16th and 17th century. [204] Romaniote and Ashkenazi communities existed in Istanbul before the conquest of Istanbul, but it was the arrival of Sephardic Jews that ushered a period of cultural flourishing. Sephardic Jews settled in the city after their expulsion from Spain and Portugal in 1492 and 1497. [204] Sympathetic to the plight of Sephardic Jews, Bayezid II sent out the Ottoman Navy under the command of admiral Kemal Reis to Spain in 1492 in order to evacuate them safely to Ottoman lands. [204] In marked contrast to Jews in Europe, Ottoman Jews were allowed to work in any profession. [205] Ottoman Jews in Istanbul excelled in commerce, and came to particularly dominate the medical profession. [205] By 1711, using the printing press, books came to be published in Spanish and Ladino, Yiddish, and Hebrew. [206] In large part due to emigration to Israel, the Jewish population in the city dropped from 100,000 in 1950 [207] to 25,000 in 2020.

Politically, Istanbul is seen as the most important administrative region in Turkey. Many politicians, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are of the view that a political party's performance in Istanbul is more significant than its general performance overall. This is due to the city's role as Turkey's financial center, its large electorate and the fact that Erdoğan himself was elected Mayor of Istanbul in 1994. [ citation needed ] In the run-up to local elections in 2019, Erdoğan claimed 'if we fail in Istanbul, we will fail in Turkey'. [208]

The contest in Istanbul carried deep political, economic and symbolic significance for Erdoğan, whose election of mayor of Istanbul in 1994 had served as his launchpad. [209] For Ekrem İmamoğlu, winning the mayorship of Istanbul was a huge moral victory, but for Erdoğan it had practical ramifications: His party, AKP, lost control of the $4.8 billion municipal budget, which had sustained patronage at the point of delivery of many public services for 25 years. [210]

More recently, Istanbul and many of Turkey's metropolitan cities are following a trend away from the government and their right-wing ideology. In 2013 and 2014, large-scale anti-AKP government protests began in İstanbul and spread throughout the nation. This trend first became evident electorally in the 2014 mayoral election where the center-left opposition candidate won an impressive 40% of the vote, despite not winning. The first government defeat in Istanbul occurred in the 2017 constitutional referendum, where Istanbul voted 'No' by 51.4% to 48.6%. The AKP government had supported a 'Yes' vote and won the vote nationally due to high support in rural parts of the country. The biggest defeat for the government came in the 2019 local elections, where their candidate for Mayor, former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, was defeated by a very narrow margin by the opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu. İmamoğlu won the vote with 48.77% of the vote, against Yıldırım's 48.61%. Similar trends and electoral successes for the opposition were also replicated in Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Mersin, Adana and other metropolitan areas of Turkey. [ citation needed ]

Administratively, Istanbul is divided into 39 districts, more than any other province in Turkey. As a province, Istanbul sends 98 Members of Parliament to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, which has a total of 600 seats. For the purpose of parliamentary elections, Istanbul is divided into three electoral districts two on the European side and one on the Asian side, electing 28, 35 and 35 MPs respectively. [ citation needed ]

Istanbul had the eleventh-largest economy among the world's urban areas in 2018, and is responsible for 30 percent of Turkey's industrial output, [213] 31 percent of GDP, [213] and 47 percent of tax revenues. [213] The city's gross domestic product adjusted by PPP stood at US$537.507 billion in 2018, [214] with manufacturing and services accounting for 36 percent and 60 percent of the economic output respectively. [213] Istanbul's productivity is 110 percent higher than the national average. [213] Trade is economically important, accounting for 30 percent of the economic output in the city. [15] In 2019, companies based in Istanbul produced exports worth $83.66 billion and received imports totaling $128.34 billion these figures were equivalent to 47 percent and 61 percent , respectively, of the national totals. [215]

Istanbul, which straddles the Bosporus strait, houses international ports that link Europe and Asia. The Bosporus, providing the only passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, is the world's busiest and narrowest strait used for international navigation, with more than 200 million tons of oil passing through it each year. [216] International conventions guarantee passage between the Black and the Mediterranean seas, [217] even when tankers carry oil, LNG/LPG, chemicals, and other flammable or explosive materials as cargo. In 2011, as a workaround solution, the then Prime Minister Erdoğan presented Canal Istanbul, a project to open a new strait between the Black and Marmara seas. [217] While the project was still on Turkey's agenda in 2020, there has not been a clear date set for it. [15]

Shipping is a significant part of the city's economy, with 73.9 percent of exports and 92.7 percent of imports in 2018 executed by sea. [15] Istanbul has three major shipping ports – the Port of Haydarpaşa, the Port of Ambarlı, and the Port of Zeytinburnu – as well as several smaller ports and oil terminals along the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara. [15] Haydarpaşa, at the southeastern end of the Bosporus, was Istanbul's largest port until the early 2000s. [218] Since then operations were shifted to Ambarlı, with plans to convert Haydarpaşa into a tourism complex. [15] In 2019, Ambarlı, on the western edge of the urban center, had an annual capacity of 3,104,882 TEUs, making it the third-largest cargo terminal in the Mediterranean basin. [218]

Istanbul has been an international banking hub since the 1980s, [15] and is home to the only stock exchange in Turkey. Borsa Istanbul was originally established as the Ottoman Stock Exchange in 1866. [219] In 1995, keeping up with the financial trends, Borsa Istanbul has moved its headquarters from Bankalar Caddesi – traditionally the financial center of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, [219] – to the district of Maslak, which hosts the headquarters of the majority of Turkish banks. [220] By 2022, [221] Borsa Istanbul is scheduled to move to a new planned district in Ataşehir, which will host the headquarters of Turkish banks, including the Central Bank that is currently headquartered in Ankara. [222] Whereas 2.4 million foreigners visited the city in 2000, [ citation needed ] there were 13.4 million foreign tourists in 2018, making Istanbul the world's fifth most-visited city. [14] Istanbul is, after Antalya, Turkey's second-largest international gateway, receiving a quarter of the nation's foreign tourists. Istanbul has more than fifty museums, with Topkapı Palace, the most visited museum in the city, bringing in more than $30 million in revenue each year. [15]

Istanbul was historically known as a cultural hub, but its cultural scene stagnated after the Turkish Republic shifted its focus toward Ankara. [223] The new national government established programs that served to orient Turks toward musical traditions, especially those originating in Europe, but musical institutions and visits by foreign classical artists were primarily centered in the new capital. [224]

Much of Turkey's cultural scene had its roots in Istanbul, and by the 1980s and 1990s Istanbul reemerged globally as a city whose cultural significance is not solely based on its past glory. [225]

By the end of the 19th century, Istanbul had established itself as a regional artistic center, with Turkish, European, and Middle Eastern artists flocking to the city. Despite efforts to make Ankara Turkey's cultural heart, Istanbul had the country's primary institution of art until the 1970s. [226] When additional universities and art journals were founded in Istanbul during the 1980s, artists formerly based in Ankara moved in. [227]

Beyoğlu has been transformed into the artistic center of the city, with young artists and older Turkish artists formerly residing abroad finding footing there. Modern art museums, including İstanbul Modern, the Pera Museum, Sakıp Sabancı Museum and SantralIstanbul, opened in the 2000s to complement the exhibition spaces and auction houses that have already contributed to the cosmopolitan nature of the city. [229] These museums have yet to attain the popularity of older museums on the historic peninsula, including the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, which ushered in the era of modern museums in Turkey, and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. [228]

The first film screening in Turkey was at Yıldız Palace in 1896, a year after the technology publicly debuted in Paris. [230] Movie theaters rapidly cropped up in Beyoğlu, with the greatest concentration of theaters being along the street now known as İstiklal Avenue. [231] Istanbul also became the heart of Turkey's nascent film industry, although Turkish films were not consistently developed until the 1950s. [232] Since then, Istanbul has been the most popular location to film Turkish dramas and comedies. [233] The Turkish film industry ramped up in the second half of the century, and with Uzak (2002) and My Father and My Son (2005), both filmed in Istanbul, the nation's movies began to see substantial international success. [234] Istanbul and its picturesque skyline have also served as a backdrop for several foreign films, including From Russia with Love (1963), Topkapi (1964), The World Is Not Enough (1999), and Mission Istaanbul (2008). [235]

Coinciding with this cultural reemergence was the establishment of the Istanbul Festival, which began showcasing a variety of art from Turkey and around the world in 1973. From this flagship festival came the International Istanbul Film Festival and the Istanbul International Jazz Festival in the early 1980s. With its focus now solely on music and dance, the Istanbul Festival has been known as the Istanbul International Music Festival since 1994. [236] The most prominent of the festivals that evolved from the original Istanbul Festival is the Istanbul Biennial, held every two years since 1987. Its early incarnations were aimed at showcasing Turkish visual art, and it has since opened to international artists and risen in prestige to join the elite biennales, alongside the Venice Biennale and the São Paulo Art Biennial. [237]

Leisure and entertainment

Istanbul has numerous shopping centers, from the historic to the modern. The Grand Bazaar, in operation since 1461, is among the world's oldest and largest covered markets. [238] [239] Mahmutpasha Bazaar is an open-air market extending between the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar, which has been Istanbul's major spice market since 1660. Galleria Ataköy ushered in the age of modern shopping malls in Turkey when it opened in 1987. [240] Since then, malls have become major shopping centers outside the historic peninsula. Akmerkez was awarded the titles of "Europe's best" and "World's best" shopping mall by the International Council of Shopping Centers in 1995 and 1996 Istanbul Cevahir has been one of the continent's largest since opening in 2005 Kanyon won the Cityscape Architectural Review Award in the Commercial Built category in 2006. [239] İstinye Park in İstinye and Zorlu Center near Levent are among the newest malls which include the stores of the world's top fashion brands. Abdi İpekçi Street in Nişantaşı and Bağdat Avenue on the Anatolian side of the city have evolved into high-end shopping districts. [241] [242]

Istanbul is known for its historic seafood restaurants. Many of the city's most popular and upscale seafood restaurants line the shores of the Bosphorus (particularly in neighborhoods like Ortaköy, Bebek, Arnavutköy, Yeniköy, Beylerbeyi and Çengelköy). Kumkapı along the Sea of Marmara has a pedestrian zone that hosts around fifty fish restaurants. [243] The Princes' Islands, 15 kilometers (9 mi) from the city center, are also popular for their seafood restaurants. Because of their restaurants, historic summer mansions, and tranquil, car-free streets, the Prince Islands are a popular vacation destination among Istanbulites and foreign tourists. [244] Istanbul is also famous for its sophisticated and elaborately-cooked dishes of the Ottoman cuisine. Following the influx of immigrants from southeastern and eastern Turkey, which began in the 1960s, the foodscape of the city has drastically changed by the end of the century with influences of Middle Eastern cuisine such as kebab taking an important place in the food scene. Restaurants featuring foreign cuisines are mainly concentrated in the Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş, Şişli, and Kadıköy districts.

Istanbul has active nightlife and historic taverns, a signature characteristic of the city for centuries if not millennia. Along İstiklal Avenue is the Çiçek Pasajı, now home to winehouses (known as meyhanes), pubs, and restaurants. [245] İstiklal Avenue, originally known for its taverns, has shifted toward shopping, but the nearby Nevizade Street is still lined with winehouses and pubs. [246] [247] Some other neighborhoods around İstiklal Avenue have been revamped to cater to Beyoğlu's nightlife, with formerly commercial streets now lined with pubs, cafes, and restaurants playing live music. [248] Other focal points for Istanbul's nightlife include Nişantaşı, Ortaköy, Bebek, and Kadıköy. [249]

Istanbul is home to some of Turkey's oldest sports clubs. Beşiktaş JK, established in 1903, is considered the oldest of these sports clubs. Due to its initial status as Turkey's only club, Beşiktaş occasionally represented the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic in international sports competitions, earning the right to place the Turkish flag inside its team logo. [250] Galatasaray SK and Fenerbahçe SK have fared better in international competitions and have won more Süper Lig titles, at 22 and 19 times, respectively. [251] [252] [253] Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe have a long-standing rivalry, with Galatasaray based in the European part and Fenerbahçe based in the Anatolian part of the city. [252] Istanbul has seven basketball teams—Anadolu Efes, Beşiktaş, Darüşşafaka, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor and Büyükçekmece—that play in the premier-level Turkish Basketball Super League. [254]

Many of Istanbul's sports facilities have been built or upgraded since 2000 to bolster the city's bids for the Summer Olympic Games. Atatürk Olympic Stadium, the largest multi-purpose stadium in Turkey, was completed in 2002 as an IAAF first-class venue for track and field. [255] The stadium hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, and was selected by the UEFA to host the CL Final games of 2020 and 2021, which were relocated to Lisbon (2020) and Porto (2021) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [256] Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Fenerbahçe's home field, hosted the 2009 UEFA Cup Final three years after its completion. Türk Telekom Arena opened in 2011 to replace Ali Sami Yen Stadium as Galatasaray's home turf, [257] [258] while Vodafone Park, opened in 2016 to replace BJK İnönü Stadium as the home turf of Beşiktaş, hosted the 2019 UEFA Super Cup game. All four stadiums are elite Category 4 (formerly five-star) UEFA stadiums. [f]

The Sinan Erdem Dome, among the largest indoor arenas in Europe, hosted the final of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, as well as the 2011–12 Euroleague and 2016–17 EuroLeague Final Fours. [262] Prior to the completion of the Sinan Erdem Dome in 2010, Abdi İpekçi Arena was Istanbul's primary indoor arena, having hosted the finals of EuroBasket 2001. [263] Several other indoor arenas, including the Beşiktaş Akatlar Arena, have also been inaugurated since 2000, serving as the home courts of Istanbul's sports clubs. The most recent of these is the 13,800-seat Ülker Sports Arena, which opened in 2012 as the home court of Fenerbahçe's basketball teams. [264] Despite the construction boom, five bids for the Summer Olympics—in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2020—and national bids for UEFA Euro 2012 and UEFA Euro 2016 have ended unsuccessfully. [265]

The TVF Burhan Felek Sport Hall is one of the major volleyball arenas in the city and hosts clubs such as Eczacıbaşı VitrA, Vakıfbank SK, and Fenerbahçe who have won numerous European and World Championship titles. [ citation needed ]

Between the 2005–2011 seasons, [266] and in the 2020 season, [267] Istanbul Park racing circuit hosted the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix. The 2021 F1 Turkish Grand Prix has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [268] Istanbul Park was also a venue of the World Touring Car Championship and the European Le Mans Series in 2005 and 2006, but the track has not seen either of these competitions since then. [269] [270] It also hosted the Turkish Motorcycle Grand Prix between 2005 and 2007. Istanbul was occasionally a venue of the F1 Powerboat World Championship, with the last race on the Bosphorus strait on 12–13 August 2000. [271] [ unreliable source? ] The last race of the Powerboat P1 World Championship on the Bosphorus took place on 19–21 June 2009. [272] Istanbul Sailing Club, established in 1952, hosts races and other sailing events on the waterways in and around Istanbul each year. [273] [274]

Most state-run radio and television stations are based in Ankara, but Istanbul is the primary hub of Turkish media. The industry has its roots in the former Ottoman capital, where the first Turkish newspaper, Takvim-i Vekayi (Calendar of Affairs), was published in 1831. The Cağaloğlu street on which the newspaper was printed, Bâb-ı Âli Street, rapidly became the center of Turkish print media, alongside Beyoğlu across the Golden Horn. [275]

Istanbul now has a wide variety of periodicals. Most nationwide newspapers are based in Istanbul, with simultaneous Ankara and İzmir editions. [276] Hürriyet, Sabah, Posta and Sözcü, the country's top four papers, are all headquartered in Istanbul, boasting more than 275,000 weekly sales each. [277] Hürriyet's English-language edition, Hürriyet Daily News, has been printed since 1961, but the English-language Daily Sabah, first published by Sabah in 2014, has overtaken it in circulation. Several smaller newspapers, including popular publications like Cumhuriyet, Milliyet and Habertürk are also based in Istanbul. [276] Istanbul also has long-running Armenian language newspapers, notably the dailies Marmara and Jamanak and the bilingual weekly Agos in Armenian and Turkish. [ citation needed ]

Radio broadcasts in Istanbul date back to 1927, when Turkey's first radio transmission came from atop the Central Post Office in Eminönü. Control of this transmission, and other radio stations established in the following decades, ultimately came under the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), which held a monopoly on radio and television broadcasts between its founding in 1964 and 1990. [278] Today, TRT runs four national radio stations these stations have transmitters across the country so each can reach over 90 percent of the country's population, but only Radio 2 is based in Istanbul. Offering a range of content from educational programming to coverage of sporting events, Radio 2 is the most popular radio station in Turkey. [278] Istanbul's airwaves are the busiest in Turkey, primarily featuring either Turkish-language or English-language content. One of the exceptions, offering both, is Açık Radyo (94.9 FM). Among Turkey's first private stations, and the first featuring foreign popular music, was Istanbul's Metro FM (97.2 FM). The state-run Radio 3 , although based in Ankara, also features English-language popular music, and English-language news programming is provided on NTV Radyo (102.8 FM). [279]

TRT-Children is the only TRT television station based in Istanbul. [280] Istanbul is home to the headquarters of several Turkish stations and regional headquarters of international media outlets. Istanbul-based Star TV was the first private television network to be established following the end of the TRT monopoly Star TV and Show TV (also based in Istanbul) remain highly popular throughout the country, airing Turkish and American series. [281] Kanal D and ATV are other stations in Istanbul that offer a mix of news and series NTV (partnered with U.S. media outlet MSNBC) and Sky Turk—both based in the city—are mainly just known for their news coverage in Turkish. The BBC has a regional office in Istanbul, assisting its Turkish-language news operations, and the American news channel CNN established the Turkish-language CNN Türk there in 1999. [282]

In 2015, more than 57,000 students attended 7,934 schools, [283] including the renowned Galatasaray High School, Kabataş Erkek Lisesi, and Istanbul Lisesi. Galatasaray High School was established in 1481 and is the oldest public high school in Turkey. [283]

Some of the most renowned and highly ranked universities in Turkey are in Istanbul. Istanbul University, the nation's oldest institute of higher education, dates back to 1453 and its dental, law, medical schools were founded in the nineteenth century.

Istanbul has more than 93 colleges and universities, [283] with 400,000 students [284] enrolled in 2016. The city's largest private universities include Sabancı University, with its main campus in Tuzla, Koç University in Sarıyer, Özyeğin Üniversitesi near Altunizade. Istanbul's first private university, Koç University, was founded as late as 1992, because private universities were officially outlawed in Turkey before the 1982 amendment to the constitution. [283]

Four public universities with a major presence in the city, Boğaziçi University, Galatasaray University, Istanbul Technical University (the world's third-oldest university dedicated entirely to engineering), Istanbul University provide education in English (all but Galatasaray University) and French. [283] [ clarification needed ]

Istanbul is also home to several conservatories and art schools, including Mimar Sinan Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1882. [285]

Istanbul's first water supply systems date back to the city's early history, when aqueducts (such as the Valens Aqueduct) deposited the water in the city's numerous cisterns. [286] At the behest of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Kırkçeşme water supply network was constructed by 1563, the network provided 4,200 cubic meters (150,000 cu ft) of water to 158 sites each day. [286] In later years, in response to increasing public demand, water from various springs was channeled to public fountains, like the Fountain of Ahmed III, by means of supply lines. [287] Today, Istanbul has a chlorinated and filtered water supply and a sewage treatment system managed by the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İstanbul Su ve Kanalizasyon İdaresi, İSKİ). [288]

The Silahtarağa Power Station, a coal-fired power plant along the Golden Horn, was the sole source of Istanbul's electricity between 1914, when its first engine room was completed, and 1952. [289] Following the founding of the Turkish Republic, the plant underwent renovations to accommodate the city's increasing demand its capacity grew from 23 megawatts in 1923 to a peak of 120 megawatts in 1956. [289] [290] Capacity declined until the power station reached the end of its economic life and shut down in 1983. [289] The state-run Turkish Electrical Authority (TEK) briefly—between its founding in 1970 and 1984—held a monopoly on the generation and distribution of electricity, but now the authority—since split between the Turkish Electricity Generation Transmission Company (TEAŞ) and the Turkish Electricity Distribution Company (TEDAŞ)—competes with private electric utilities. [290]

The Ottoman Ministry of Post and Telegraph was established in 1840 and the first post office, the Imperial Post Office, opened near the courtyard of Yeni Mosque. By 1876, the first international mailing network between Istanbul and the lands beyond the Ottoman Empire had been established. [291] Sultan Abdülmecid I issued Samuel Morse his first official honor for the telegraph in 1847, and construction of the first telegraph line—between Istanbul and Edirne—finished in time to announce the end of the Crimean War in 1856. [292]

A nascent telephone system began to emerge in Istanbul in 1881 and after the first manual telephone exchange became operational in Istanbul in 1909, the Ministry of Post and Telegraph became the Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone. [291] [294] GSM cellular networks arrived in Turkey in 1994, with Istanbul among the first cities to receive the service. [295] Today, mobile and landline service is provided by private companies, after Türk Telekom, which split from the Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone in 1995, was privatized in 2005. [291] [295] Postal services remain under the purview of what is now the Post and Telegraph Organization (retaining the acronym PTT). [291]

In 2000, Istanbul had 137 hospitals , of which 100 were private. [296] [ needs update ] Turkish citizens are entitled to subsidized healthcare in the nation's state-run hospitals. [276] As public hospitals tend to be overcrowded or otherwise slow, private hospitals are preferable for those who can afford them. Their prevalence has increased significantly over the last decade, as the percentage of outpatients using private hospitals increased from 6 percent to 23 percent between 2005 and 2009. [276] [297] Many of these private hospitals, as well as some of the public hospitals, are equipped with high-tech equipment, including MRI machines, or associated with medical research centers. [298] Turkey has more hospitals accredited by the U.S.-based Joint Commission than any other country in the world, with most concentrated in its big cities. The high quality of healthcare, especially in private hospitals, has contributed to a recent upsurge in medical tourism to Turkey (with a 40 percent increase between 2007 and 2008). [299] Laser eye surgery is particularly common among medical tourists, as Turkey is known for specializing in the procedure. [300]

Istanbul's motorways network are the O-1, O-2, O-3, O-4 and O-7. The total length of Istanbul Province's toll motorways network (otoyollar) is 543 km (2021) and the state highways network (devlet yollari) is 353 km (2021), totaling 896 km of expressway roads (minimum 2x2 lanes), excluding secondary roads and urban streets. [301] [302] [303] The density of expressway network is 16.8 km/100 km 2 . The O-1 forms the city's inner ring road, traversing the 15 July Martyrs (First Bosphorus) Bridge, and the O-2 is the city's outer ring road, crossing the Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Second Bosphorus) Bridge. The O-2 continues west to Edirne and the O-4 continues east to Ankara. The O-2, O-3, and O-4 are part of European route E80 (the Trans-European Motorway) between Portugal and the Iran–Turkey border. [304] In 2011, the first and second bridges on the Bosphorus carried 400,000 vehicles each day. [305] The O-7 [306] or Kuzey Marmara Otoyolu, is a motorway that bypass Istanbul to the north. The O-7 motorway from Kinali Gişeleri to Istanbul Park Service has 139.2 km, with 8 lanes (4x4), and from Odayeri-K10 to Istanbul Atatürk Airport has 30.4 km. [303] The completed section of highway crosses the Bosphorus Strait via the Yavuz Sultan Selim (Third Bosphorus) Bridge, entered service on 26 August 2016. [307] The O-7 motorway connects Istanbul Atatürk Airport with Istanbul Airport. Environmentalist groups worry that the third bridge will endanger the remaining green areas to the north of Istanbul. [308] [309] Apart from the three Bosphorus Bridges, the dual-deck, 14.6-kilometer (9.1 mi) Eurasia Tunnel (which entered service on 20 December 2016) under the Bosphorus strait also provides road crossings for motor vehicles between the Asian and European sides of Turkey. [310]

Istanbul's local public transportation system is a network of commuter trains, trams, funiculars, metro lines, buses, bus rapid transit, and ferries. Fares across modes are integrated, using the contactless Istanbulkart, introduced in 2009, or the older Akbil electronic ticket device. [311] Trams in Istanbul date back to 1872, when they were horse-drawn, but even the first electrified trams were decommissioned in the 1960s. [312] Operated by Istanbul Electricity, Tramway, and Tunnel General Management (İETT), trams slowly returned to the city in the 1990s with the introduction of a nostalgic route and a faster modern tram line, which now carries 265,000 passengers each day. [312] [313] The Tünel opened in 1875 as the world's second-oldest subterranean rail line (after London's Metropolitan Railway). [312] It still carries passengers between Karaköy and İstiklal Avenue along a steep 573-meter (1,880 ft) track a more modern funicular between Taksim Square and Kabataş began running in 2006. [314] [315]

The Istanbul Metro comprises five lines (the M1, M2, M3, M6, M7 and M9 on the European side, and the M4 and M5 on the Asian side) with several other lines M8, M12 and M11) and extensions under construction. [316] [317] The two sides of Istanbul's metro are connected under the Bosphorus by the Marmaray Tunnel, inaugurated in 2013 as the first rail connection between Thrace and Anatolia, having 13.5 km length. [318] The Marmaray tunnel together with the suburban railways lines along the Sea of Marmara, is part of intercontinental commuter rail line in Istanbul, from Halkalı on the European side to Gebze on the Asian side. Marmaray rail line has 76.6 km, and the full line opened on 12 March 2019. [319] Until then, buses provide transportation within and between the two-halves of the city, accommodating 2.2 million passenger trips each day. [320] The Metrobus, a form of bus rapid transit, crosses the Bosphorus Bridge, with dedicated lanes leading to its termini. [321]

İDO (Istanbul Seabuses) runs a combination of all-passenger ferries and car-and-passenger ferries to ports on both sides of the Bosphorus, as far north as the Black Sea. [322] [323] With additional destinations around the Sea of Marmara, İDO runs the largest municipal ferry operation in the world. [324] The city's main cruise ship terminal is the Port of Istanbul in Karaköy, with a capacity of 10,000 passengers per hour. [325] Most visitors enter Istanbul by air, but about half a million foreign tourists enter the city by sea each year. [326] [ non-primary source needed ]

International rail service from Istanbul launched in 1889, with a line between Bucharest and Istanbul's Sirkeci Terminal, which ultimately became famous as the eastern terminus of the Orient Express from Paris. [74] Regular service to Bucharest and Thessaloniki continued until the early 2010s, when the former was interrupted for Marmaray construction but started running again in 2019 and the latter was halted due to economic problems in Greece. [328] [329] After Istanbul's Haydarpaşa Terminal opened in 1908, it served as the western terminus of the Baghdad Railway and an extension of the Hejaz Railway today, neither service is offered directly from Istanbul. [330] [331] [332] Service to Ankara and other points across Turkey is normally offered by Turkish State Railways, but the construction of Marmaray and the Ankara-Istanbul high-speed line forced the station to close in 2012. [333] New stations to replace both the Haydarpaşa and Sirkeci terminals, and connect the city's disjointed railway networks, are expected to open upon completion of the Marmaray project until then, Istanbul is without intercity rail service. [333] Private bus companies operate instead. Istanbul's main bus station is the largest in Europe, with a daily capacity of 15,000 buses and 600,000 passengers , serving destinations as distant as Frankfurt. [334] [335]

Istanbul had three large international airports, two of which are currently in active service for commercial passenger flights. The largest is the new Istanbul Airport, opened in 2018 in the Arnavutköy district to the northwest of the city center, on the European side, near the Black Sea coast.

All scheduled commercial passenger flights were transferred from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport on 6 April 2019, following the closure of Istanbul Atatürk Airport for scheduled passenger flights. [336] The IATA airport code IST was also transferred to the new airport. [337] Once all phases are completed in 2025, the airport will have six sets of runways (eight in total), 16 taxiways, and will be able to accommodate 200 million passengers a year. [338] [339] The transfer from the airport to the city is via the O-7, and it will eventually be linked by two lines of the Istanbul Metro.

Sabiha Gökçen International, 45 kilometers (28 mi) southeast of the city center, on the Asian side, was opened in 2001 to relieve Atatürk. Dominated by low-cost carriers, Istanbul's second airport has rapidly become popular, especially since the opening of a new international terminal in 2009 [340] the airport handled 14.7 million passengers in 2012, a year after Airports Council International named it the world's fastest-growing airport. [341] [342] Atatürk had also experienced rapid growth, as its 20.6 percent rise in passenger traffic between 2011 and 2012 was the highest among the world's top 30 airports. [343]

Istanbul Atatürk Airport, located 24 kilometers (15 mi) west of the city center, on the European side, near the Marmara Sea coast, was formerly the city's largest airport. After its closure to commercial flights in 2019, it was briefly used by cargo aircraft and the official state aircraft owned by the Turkish government, until the demolition of its runway began in 2020. It handled 61.3 million passengers in 2015, which made it the third-busiest airport in Europe and the eighteenth-busiest in the world in that year. [343]

Air pollution from traffic

Air pollution in Turkey is acute in İstanbul with cars, buses and taxis causing frequent urban smog, [344] as it is one of the few European cities without a low-emission zone. As of 2019 [update] the city's mean air quality remains of a level so as to affect the heart and lungs of healthy street bystanders during peak traffic hours, [345] and almost 200 days of pollution were measured by the air pollution sensors at Sultangazi, Mecidiyeköy, Alibeyköy and Kağıthane. [346]


İstanbul, The Legendary Capital

A god and a beauty of history, a taboo
A miracle of sun and water, a secret surely eternal, this is İstanbul
It&rsquos us who are wasted away&hellip Our hearts

Ahmet Muhip Dranas

İSTANBUL, THE LEGENDARY CAPITAL *

Founded at the crossroads of two old continents, Europe and Asia, and two important seas, the Mediterranean and the Black sea, İstanbul is an imperial epic a legend which has been the capital of three major empires.

It is still going strong . with its uninterrupted three thousand year life span, its unique geography, unmatched history, incredible nature, legendary splendor and beauty, a city still not despoiled despite its inhabitants, an immortal city.

İstanbul is a bridge connecting two different worlds the East and The West. It is the West at the outermost of the East, the East at the endmost of the West. İstanbul is a melting pot where Eastern and Western civilizations blend. It has hosted Western Anatolian and Hellenistic cultures upon which Roman culture was grafted. Added to this are traces of Chinese, Indian and Persian cultural influences and Altaic Turkish mythology and Islamic legends. It embraces Pagan, Christian and Muslim religions &ndash the cradle of three cultural components. Not only is it the crossroads of the past civilizations for the East and the West, it is also an intersection point for the future.

İstanbul is a festival of cultures, beliefs, religions, languages and races within the context of an amazing cultural inheritance. It is a world theatre and a world capital. Here, not only a national one but a living universal cultural heritage is on display. That is why this historical peninsula is a universal museum that must be appreciated, carefully protected and passed on to future generations.

Let us for a moment examine the religious mosaic of İstanbul Jews: Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Karaite, Jews of Thessalonica Christians: Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Protestant Greeks, Turkish Orthodox, Turkish Protestant, Russian Orthodox, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Romanians Armenians: Gregorian or Apostolic, Catholic, and Protestant Chaldean, Catholic, and Protestant Syrians: European Catholics: Maltese, French, and Polish Protestant Dutch, Germans and English Georgians Levantines Jehovah&rsquos Witnesses Africans of various faiths different religious orders of the Sunni and Shiite doctrines: Alawis, Bektashis, Shiite Iranians, Kirgiz, Cossacks, Uzbeks Masons, Shamans, Buddhists, people who believe in &lsquoancestor worship&rsquo&hellip

Mosques, churches, synagogues, mausoleums, cemeteries, sacred Greek Orthodox fountains (hagiasma), saints&rsquo tombs, fathers, saints, dervish lodges, Quranic schools&hellip At one corner, you see animals being sacrificed, practices to avoid bad luck such as melting lead and preparing written charms and at another, the cross thrown into the Bosphorus&hellip On one side church bells chime, on the other the muezzin calls Muslims to prayer. In places of worship, Prayers from The Bible, The New Testament and the Quran can be heard simultaneously. In the churches of İstanbul the New Testament is cited in Latin, Greek, Turkish, Arabic and Aramaic.

Every belief, paganism, atheism, orthodoxy and heterodoxy is woven together creating a multi-dimensional structure. The names that have been bestowed are quite symbolic in this respect: The Monastery Mosque (Manastır Mescidi), Vefa Church Mosque (Vefa Kilise Camii), Little Haghia Sophia Mosque (Küçük Ayasofya Camii), Panayia Hancerotissa (The Daggered Maria Church)&hellip The beliefs, religions, customs and people seemingly contradict yet influence each other, forming a multi-cultural mosaic.

For example in the districts of Ortaköy or Kuzguncuk in the old people&rsquos home known as Darulaceze a mosque, a church and a synagogue stand side by side. In Silivrikapı Cemetery, Greeks, Armenians and Muslims are buried next to each other. In no other part of the world have such different religious and ethnic groups been blended together in such a manner. Naturally, this harmony has created a common tolerance. In this respect, İstanbul is a city where the three great religions meet and co-exist in harmony.

Church music, synagogue hymns and dervish lodge music are combined with secular music and evolve into new forms. That&rsquos why in a recent concert called, &ldquoI hear the sound of İstanbul&rdquo we heard the İstanbul Muezzins Choir and the Athens, Byzantium Choir sing together.
All these people who come from diverse geographical regions, of different modes of thought and sensibilities, shaped by various cultures, laws, traditions and life styles have created a very special identity for İstanbul.

İstanbul possesses a unique geographical and hence geopolitical advantage. Nature has shown benevolence to the city. The opening up of the water routes after the last ice age created an extremely beneficial land and seascape vis-à-vis the city&rsquos North-South, East-West axis. This axis includes the Black Sea-Mediterranean and the Balkans-Anatolia-Middle East-Asia route, and encompasses the Bosphorus and The Golden Horn, a deep and protected natural port. Such an astonishing geography has endowed a long-lasting multi-dimensional and colorful history to the city. Geography and history have formed an admirable unity. İstanbul, the magnificent legendary capital, was born from this combination.

İstanbul possesses a cultural variety that dates back to ancient times, an accumulation of various identities and an astonishing natural heritage. This is what people it find so striking at first glance. There is no city anywhere else in the world with such a diverse yet harmonized culture.

The notable names of the earliest periods, such as Ur, Babylon, Karnack, Luxor, Troy, Carthage, Teotihuacán or those of the classical era, Ephesus or Aphrodisias&hellip These are cities that no longer exist they are merely historical sites one may visit. Beijing, New Delhi, Katmandu, Moscow, Lhasa, London, Paris, Prague, St. Petersburg and New York are all new cities compared to İstanbul.

Athens, Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, or the more recent ones, Baghdad and Damascus&hellip These are cities with a mono-culture, cities that do not host a historical continuity or multi-cultural component. In the 17th century no city could compare to İstanbul. İstanbul is &ldquoThe City&rdquo (şehr-i yegâne), peerless and unprecedented. That is why Napoleon said, &lsquoIf the world was only one country, İstanbul would be its capital&rsquo. Pierre Gilles, who came to İstanbul in the 16th century to study the topography of ancient objects and structures, and whose work is still a primary reference, has this to say in his preface: All the other cities are mortal, but I think İstanbul will live as long as mankind exists. &lsquoA Chinese writer refers to İstanbul as &lsquothe city of cities&rsquo. Anna Comnena, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor, who meticulously described the İstanbul of her day in her renowned chronicle of her father&rsquos rule, called this city &lsquothe queen of cities.&rsquo We call it &lsquothe legendary city&rsquo.

In an issue of the National Geographic Traveler, İstanbul was placed second after New York in &ldquothe 10 most livable cities&rdquo list. In his book &lsquoThe City of the Future&rsquo (1924) the architect Le Corbusier defines İstanbul as follows: &lsquonow if we have to compare New York and İstanbul, we can safely say that the first one is hell, and the second one is heaven on earth&hellip İstanbul is a fruit orchard, our cities are mines&hellip&rsquo The İstanbul Le Corbusier knew has lost a lot of its character over the last 50 years yet it is still a unique place.

I have visited all the major cities of the world I still take tour groups to these cities. None of them have İstanbul&rsquos natural beauty, geography, history and liveliness. Although its cultural heritage has been damaged over the past 50 years, İstanbul is still a world capital that shines day and night. It&rsquos a universal city with a heart that cheerfully beats 24 hours a day, with its people incessantly eating, drinking, entertaining, living a city that is always on the go. İstanbul is a lively, passionate, energetic, turbulent dream city. It is a city full of surprises.

In the last 50 years, a period of rapid growth, just like other major and historical cities, İstanbul has been threatened by changes in its economy as well as undergoing a number of political and social developments. The consequences of unplanned industrialization, immigration and the increase in population are ruining the city. Its seas and water are getting dirtier, and its natural flora and fauna are slowly disappearing. Due to migration to urban areas in the last 50 years, the population of the city has increased eightfold, and the areas of settlement a hundredfold.

The populations of these historically marginalized centers are now overrunning İstanbul, which expanded rapidly at the expense of other centers during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Newcomers are once again conquering the city and in the process of redefining it. But this is only temporary.

İstanbul, just like the legendary Phoenix, has successfully resisted the ravages of time and has always rebuilt itself from its ashes. It continuously reinvents itself. It has taken up a new identity with every century. Sieges, attacks, epidemics, fires, earthquakes, immigration, destruction, rebuilding the city is now subject to a new siege that endangers its cultural and natural heritage once again&hellip Yet İstanbul survives. This immortal city will overcome all the setbacks of the past 50 years it will accommodate its new residents to adjust to its unique way of life and will kindle its fire once again to become the grand city it used to be. A master in reinventing itself after all the expansion and destruction, İstanbul has the power to rebuild itself with the inexhaustible dynamism that lies within its essence.

That is why the greatest injustice to be inflicted on a city like İstanbul is to talk about &lsquothe good old days&rsquo, to yearn for the old İstanbul and to live in the past trying to bring back something that has already been witnessed idolizing a preconceived notion of İstanbul. The old timers who cannot understand this, consider themselves &lsquothe real genuine folk of İstanbul&rsquo while calling the change-makers &lsquothe others&rsquo saying that İstanbul no longer exists. But what is really important is to preserve what we have now. Instead of reminiscing, we have to unite İstanbul&rsquos past and present, integrate its past values and beauties with the future. In order to do this, we have to know İstanbul to understand it. Once we know it, we will learn to love it.

The best way to get to know a city is by getting lost in it, touring every corner, every alley smelling it, breathing it, and enjoying it in every way possible in order to increase one&rsquos comprehension of the links between people, cultures and places.
It is essential to walk through the streets in Fener on the Golden Horn, to be awed the dome of Haghia Sophia, to go bird watching on Camlica Hill, to gaze at the colors of the spring flowers, to taste the sea on the Bosphorus, to throw bread crisps to the seagulls at Saray Point ( Sarayburnu), to dine on bread and fish in Kadiköy (Chalcedon), marzipan in Bebek, sweets in Pera at İnci Patisserie (Beyoglu), yoghurt in Kanlica, beans over rice at Kanaat Restaurant. It is essential to drink rakı at Nevizade, boza (a beverage made of fermented millet) in Vefa not to miss the performance of &lsquoAbduction from the Seraglio&rsquo at Topkapi Palace during the İstanbul Festival. One must browse the markets of İstanbul: see the flower stands at Eminönü, the bird vendors of Azapkapi. One must witness the people of İstanbul as they visit the tombs of the city&rsquos myriad saints or shop at the neighborhood markets. One must join the ritual of smoking a &rdquonargile&rdquo, or water-pipe in the Cafer Aga Medrese or gaze at the sun on an autumn day sitting at the waterfront of Harem.

To really soak up the city, one must see it with its flower-vendor gypsies, musicians, and boatmen selling meat balls in small boats, street vendors, the Saturday mothers, homeless kids, the drunkards, the poor. One must take in the noises, the splendor, the dirt, the colorful fish, vegetables, fruit stalls, Hacıbekir Turkish delight, roasted chestnuts, boiled com, fountains, Turkish baths, tombstones seagulls, plain trees, the moonlight&hellip

For seven years I gazed at Bosphorus from one of the best rooms of the beautiful buildings that make up the campus of Bosphorus University. Wherever I looked, I could see a plethora of shades of green. I think those seven years were the years in which I really took in the city. I guided tourists in Sultanahmet I worked at the publishing center of İstanbul &ldquoBabıali&rdquo. A couple of times I toured the whole city with my İstanbul-Loving teachers, some of whom are now buried in the Ferikoy Christian Cemetery. One of these teachers, Godfrey Goodwin, an expert in Ottoman architecture, mentions me in reference to these tours in the foreword of his excellent book &lsquoA history of Ottoman Architecture&rsquo.

Since 1985 I have been running a tourism agency that organizes &ldquoStrolling through İstanbul&rdquo tours for the people of İstanbul, taking them around the city, showing them İstanbul in detail. With these tours, we&rsquove shown thousands of &ldquoİstanbulites&rdquo, places they&rsquove never seen before, many historical and modern works they have passed by without noticing, and we&rsquove introduced them to old customs and new trends. We have shown them İstanbul&rsquos history, geography, culture and main districts along with their concomitant legends and customs, streets, meeting places, mosques, churches, synagogues, sacred Greek fountains, tombs of saints, cemeteries, caravansaries, Turkish baths, markets, birdhouses, its flora, birds and bugs&hellipWe have told them about the city&rsquos music and literature. We have mapped out almost eighty different routes, allotting each one a whole day to explore&hellip
İstanbul has been and still is a web of contradictions reality and legends, commotion and calmness, the rich and poor, the beautiful and the ugly. These contradictions span the effort to preserve cultural heritage and its destruction and the paradox of both loving and hating this amazing city.

Despite of everything, İstanbul is still a center of attraction. İstanbul has an energy that slowly wins you over and a light that constantly changes it has a smell of its own, a soul, a different type of magic. And this light, this energy, this charm, will live on forever.

* Foreword from the book of FEST TRAVEL&rsquos General Manager Faruk Pekin, İstanbul the Legendary Capital, İstanbul 2004.


Contents

Neolithic artifacts, uncovered by archeologists at the beginning of the 21st century, indicate that Istanbul's historic peninsula was settled as far back as the 6th millennium BCE. That early settlement, important in the spread of the Neolithic Revolution from the Near East to Europe, lasted for almost a millennium before being inundated by rising water levels. The first human settlement on the Asian side, the Fikirtepe mound, is from the Copper Age period, with artifacts dating from 5500 to 3500 BCE, On the European side, near the point of the peninsula (Sarayburnu), there was a Thracian settlement during the early 1st millennium BCE. Modern authors have linked it to the Thracian toponym Lygos, mentioned by Pliny the Elder as an earlier name for the site of Byzantium.

The history of the city proper begins around 660 BCE, when Greek settlers from Megara established Byzantium on the European side of the Bosphorus. The settlers built an acropolis adjacent to the Golden Horn on the site of the early Thracian settlements, fueling the nascent city's economy. The city experienced a brief period of Persian rule at the turn of the 5th century BCE, but the Greeks recaptured it during the Greco-Persian Wars. Byzantium then continued as part of the Athenian League and its successor, the Second Athenian League, before gaining independence in 355 BCE. Long allied with the Romans, Byzantium officially became a part of the Roman Empire in 73 CE. Byzantium's decision to side with the Roman usurper Pescennius Niger against Emperor Septimius Severus cost it dearly by the time it surrendered at the end of 195 CE, two years of siege had left the city devastated. Five years later, Severus began to rebuild Byzantium, and the city regained—and, by some accounts, surpassed—its previous prosperity.

Rise and fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire

Constantine the Great effectively became the emperor of the whole of the Roman Empire in September 324. Two months later, he laid out the plans for a new, Christian city to replace Byzantium. As the eastern capital of the empire, the city was named Nova Roma most called it Constantinople, a name that persisted into the 20th century. On 11 May 330, Constantinople was proclaimed the capital of the Roman Empire, which was later permanently divided between the two sons of Theodosius I upon his death on 17 January 395, when the city became the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

The establishment of Constantinople was one of Constantine's most lasting accomplishments, shifting Roman power eastward as the city became a center of Greek culture and Christianity. [2] Numerous churches were built across the city, including Hagia Sophia which was built during the reign of Justinian the Great and remained the world's largest cathedral for a thousand years. Constantine also undertook a major renovation and expansion of the Hippodrome of Constantinople accommodating tens of thousands of spectators, the hippodrome became central to civic life and, in the 5th and 6th centuries, the center of episodes of unrest, including the Nika riots. Constantinople's location also ensured its existence would stand the test of time for many centuries, its walls and seafront protected Europe against invaders from the east and the advance of Islam. [3] During most of the Middle Ages, the latter part of the Byzantine era, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city on the European continent and at times the largest in the world.

Constantinople began to decline continuously after the end of the reign of Basil II in 1025. The Fourth Crusade was diverted from its purpose in 1204, and the city was sacked and pillaged by the crusaders. They established the Latin Empire in place of the Orthodox Byzantine Empire. Hagia Sophia was converted to a Catholic church in 1204. The Byzantine Empire was restored, albeit weakened, in 1261. Constantinople's churches, defenses, and basic services were in disrepair, and its population had dwindled to a hundred thousand from half a million during the 8th century. After the reconquest of 1261, however, some of the city's monuments were restored, and some, like the two Deisis mosaics in Hagia Sofia and Kariye, were created.

Various economic and military policies instituted by Andronikos II, such as the reduction of military forces, weakened the empire and left it vulnerable to attack. In the mid-14th-century, the Ottoman Turks began a strategy of gradually taking smaller towns and cities, cutting off Constantinople's supply routes and strangling it slowly. On 29 May 1453, after an eight-week siege (during which the last Roman emperor, Constantine XI, was killed), Sultan Mehmed II "the Conqueror" captured Constantinople and declared it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Hours later, the sultan rode to the Hagia Sophia and summoned an imam to proclaim the Islamic creed, converting the grand cathedral into an imperial mosque due to the city's refusal to surrender peacefully. Mehmed declared himself as the new "Kaysar-i Rûm" (the Ottoman Turkish equivalent of Caesar of Rome) and the Ottoman state was reorganized into an empire.

Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic eras

Following the conquest of Constantinople, Mehmed II immediately set out to revitalize the city, by then sometimes called Istanbul. He urged the return of those who had fled the city during the siege, and resettled Muslims, Jews, and Christians from other parts of Anatolia. He demanded that five thousand households needed to be transferred to Constantinople by September. From all over the Islamic empire, prisoners of war and deported people were sent to the city: these people were called "Sürgün" in Turkish. Many people escaped again from the city, and there were several outbreaks of plague, so that in 1459 Mehmet allowed the deported Greeks to come back to the city. He also invited people from all over Europe to his capital, creating a cosmopolitan society that persisted through much of the Ottoman period. Plague continued to be essentially endemic in Constantinople for the rest of the century, as it had been from 1520, with a few years of respite between 1529 and 1533, 1549 and 1552, and from 1567 to 1570 epidemics originating in the West and in the Hejaz and southern Russia. Population growth in Anatolia allowed Constantinople to replace its losses and maintain its population of around 500,000 inhabitants down to 1800. Mehmed II also repaired the city's damaged infrastructure, including the whole water system, began to build the Grand Bazaar, and constructed Topkapı Palace, the sultan's official residence. With the transfer of the capital from Edirne (formerly Adrianople) to Constantinople, the new state was declared as the successor and continuation of the Roman Empire.

The Ottomans quickly transformed the city from a bastion of Christianity to a symbol of Islamic culture. Religious foundations were established to fund the construction of ornate imperial mosques, often adjoined by schools, hospitals, and public baths. [4] The Ottoman Dynasty claimed the status of caliphate in 1517, with Constantinople remaining the capital of this last caliphate for four centuries. [5] Suleiman the Magnificent's reign from 1520 to 1566 was a period of especially great artistic and architectural achievement chief architect Mimar Sinan designed several iconic buildings in the city, while Ottoman arts of ceramics, stained glass, calligraphy, and miniature flourished. The population of Constantinople was 570,000 by the end of the 18th century.

A period of rebellion at the start of the 19th century led to the rise of the progressive Sultan Mahmud II and eventually to the Tanzimat period, which produced political reforms and allowed new technology to be introduced to the city. Bridges across the Golden Horn were constructed during this period, and Constantinople was connected to the rest of the European railway network in the 1880s. Modern facilities, such as a water supply network, electricity, telephones, and trams, were gradually introduced to Constantinople over the following decades, although later than to other European cities. The modernization efforts were not enough to forestall the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

Sultan Abdul Hamid II was deposed with the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 and the Ottoman Parliament, closed since 14 February 1878, was reopened 30 years later on 23 July 1908, which marked the beginning of the Second Constitutional Era. A series of wars in the early 20th century, such as the Italo-Turkish War (1911–1912) and the Balkan Wars (1912–1913), plagued the ailing empire's capital and resulted in the 1913 Ottoman coup d'état, which brought the regime of the Three Pashas.

The Ottoman Empire joined World War I (1914–1918) on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. The deportation of Armenian intellectuals on 24 April 1915 was among the major events which marked the start of the Armenian Genocide during WWI. As a result of the war and the events in its aftermath, the city's Christian population declined from 450,000 to 240,000 between 1914 and 1927. The Armistice of Mudros was signed on 30 October 1918 and the Allies occupied Constantinople on 13 November 1918. The Ottoman Parliament was dissolved by the Allies on 11 April 1920 and the Ottoman delegation led by Damat Ferid Pasha was forced to sign the Treaty of Sèvres on 10 August 1920.

Following the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922), the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara abolished the Sultanate on 1 November 1922, and the last Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed VI, was declared persona non grata. Leaving aboard the British warship HMS Malaya on 17 November 1922, he went into exile and died in Sanremo, Italy, on 16 May 1926. The Treaty of Lausanne was signed on 24 July 1923, and the occupation of Constantinople ended with the departure of the last forces of the Allies from the city on 4 October 1923. Turkish forces of the Ankara government, commanded by Şükrü Naili Pasha (3rd Corps), entered the city with a ceremony on 6 October 1923, which has been marked as the Liberation Day of Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul'un Kurtuluşu) and is commemorated every year on its anniversary. [6] On 29 October 1923 the Grand National Assembly of Turkey declared the establishment of the Turkish Republic, with Ankara as its capital. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became the Republic's first President.

Ankara was selected as Turkey's capital in 1923 to distance the new, secular republic from its Ottoman history. According to historian Philip Mansel:

after the departure of the dynasty in 1925, from being the most international city in Europe, Constantinople became one of the most nationalistic. Unlike Vienna, Constantinople turned its back on the past. Even its name was changed. Constantinople was dropped because of its Ottoman and international associations. From 1926 the post office only accepted Istanbul it appeared more Turkish and was used by most Turks.

From the late 1940s and early 1950s, Istanbul underwent great structural change, as new public squares, boulevards, and avenues were constructed throughout the city, sometimes at the expense of historical buildings. The population of Istanbul began to rapidly increase in the 1970s, as people from Anatolia migrated to the city to find employment in the many new factories that were built on the outskirts of the sprawling metropolis. This sudden, sharp rise in the city's population caused a large demand for housing, and many previously outlying villages and forests became engulfed into the metropolitan area of Istanbul.


Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is the most popular mosque in Istanbul. Also known as the mosque of Ahmed I (Ottoman sultan from 1603 to 1617), it has one main dome, eight secondary domes and six minarets, instead of the customary four.

The design is the culmination of two centuries of Ottoman mosque development. It incorporates Byzantine Christian elements from the neighboring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture.

It was built from 1609 to 1616 in front of Hagia Sophia. While its predecessors funded their mosques from spoils of war, Ahmet I had to remove funds from the Treasury, due to a lack of remarkable victories.

It is known today as the Blue Mosque after its tiles from the Turkish city of Iznik, which line the inner walls. More than 21,000 ceramic tiles in different shades of blue and azure cover the interior of the mosque, transforming it into a true work of art. More than 200 stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light, assisted today by chandeliers.

The most important element in the interior of the mosque is the mihrab, which is made of finely carved and sculptured marble, with a stalactite niche and a double inscriptive panel above it. The great tablets on the walls are inscribed with the names of the caliphs and with verses from the Quran.


Overview

The Historic Areas of Istanbul is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey. It was inscribed into the list in 1985 under the Cultural category. This collective historic site features various sites within the capital district of Faith within the city of Istanbul.

The city has had a long history with the original record of settlement dating back to 6500 BC. It also served as the ancient capital during the Ottoman and Eastern Roman Empires. Over the 1,600-year history, the city fell under the rule of over 120 emperors and sultans. This rich and long history is commemorated by the naming of the different sites that comprise the Historic Areas of Istanbul.


Symbols of the magnificent history survived today

As you can see, Istanbul has a glorious history that does not end with telling. Throughout history many empires have lived in this city, they have fought for this city. This historical richness of Istanbul has also provided many historical buildings. There are many historical buildings in Istanbul that have attracted the attention of the whole world from the past to the present. It is almost impossible to count these structures one by one. However, let’s sort out for enthusiasts the most well-known of them! Here are some of the buildings that have the nature of historical works:

Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia Museum, Basilica Cistern, Cafer Agha Madrasa, Golden Horn Bridge, Galata Tower, Binbirdirek Cistern, Haseki Hurrem Hamam, Dolmabahce Palace, Rumeli Fortress, Anadolu Hisari, Yedikule Fortress, Beylerbeyi Palace, Ciragan Palace, Yildiz Palace, Grand Bazaar, Egypt Bazaar, Tekfur Palace, Coppersmith’s Bazaar, Eyup Sultan Mosque, Maiden’s Tower, Hidiv Pavilion…


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