Istanbul, it is where art, nature, god and humans al harmonize together to create this marvelous city. It is a place that must be visited. This is how Lamartine, the French author defined Istanbul, the city that he was fond of and where a hotel holding his name was founded.
When a guest first visits Istanbul to enjoy Istanbul holidays, the city of peace, he finds himself in a totally distinctive world filled with history. It is a marvelous destination where the authenticity of the past mingles with the dreams and ambitions of the future. Istanbul holidays were where various cultures and civilizations have blended through different periods of time constituting a unique magical open air museum.
A large number of guests with different inspirations visit Istanbul holidays every year. The city offers variety of historical markets, mosques, churches, museums, magnificent natural scenes, and endless temptations.
Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the most vital. It is also one of the most distinctive regions in the world due to its unique geographical location as it is the only city in the world which borders stretch over two continents; Europe and Asia.
Istanbul is considered to be one of the largest and most important cities in the world due to its strategical geographical location which is the most essential reason why Istanbul has developed and progressed through time.
The history of Istanbul
Istanbul was originally founded by the Greeks who named it Byzantium in 667 BC. However, after the city entered into an alliance against Emperor Septimus Los, the city was largely destroyed in 196 BC. Nevertheless, Istanbul was quickly rebuilt again and regained its significant importance.
The special geographical strategic location of Istanbul has attracted the attention of Constantine the Great in 324 BC to rename it as the new Rome. This event took place after he received a vision from god advising him to make the city the new capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Unfortunately, this name never gained popularity among the Romans and the city's name was transformed into Constantinople and after the decline of the of the Western Roman Empire the city became the center of what was historically called the Byzantine Empire.
The strategic location of Constantinople made Istanbul play a vital political, cultural, and commercial role as a center between Asia, Europe, and the Northern Africa. The city remained as the capital and the center of the Orthodox Byzantine Empire until the Forth Crusade took control of the city in 1204. However, the crusaders quickly lost control of the city in 1261.
The Moslem Ottomans besieged Constantinople for around 7 weeks under the leadership of Mohamed II, who was later called Mohamed the conqueror when he was able to enter the city in the 27th of May 1453. Since that date, the name of the city was transformed into Istanbul and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire, the recent name of the city which was derived from Stanbul a Greek word meaning the city.
The Ottoman Empire remained in control of Istanbul and many other regions in the world for around five hundred years until the declaration of the Turkish republic in 1923. In the same year, the capital of the new Republic of Turkey was transferred to Ankara. Istanbul, as a result has witnessed a period of decline when many Romans left the city and immigrated to Greece. This is besides the large number of Armenians and Jewish who deserted the city. In 1960, Adnan Menderes, the first elected Turkish Prime minster in history, ordered his men to construct wide streets in the city and this resulted in the destruction of many historical buildings and structures and distorted the beautiful views of the old city. Moreover, many factories were established around the city. Although Ankara has become the capital of Turkey, Istanbul has always remained the most important commercial capital of Turkey
The geographical location of Istanbul
Istanbul is located to the Northern West of Turkey near the borders of Greece between longitude 48 in the north and latitude 28 in the east.
The city oversees the Black Sea to the North, the Marmara Sea to the South, with Bosporus strait dividing the city.
Istanbul is generally divided into three sections: the first is the historical peninsula located in the European bank of the city, the second section is the modern city located in the golden horn, the Northern section of the European bank of the city, while the third section is located in the Asian bank of the city.
The European section of Istanbul is featured with many malls and large commercial shops, while the Asian section of the city is featured with many houses and a large number of residential buildings.
The surface area of Istanbul is around 7500 square kilometers with a length of 150 meters and it is approximately 50 kilometers wide with a population that exceeds 15 million inhabitants.
The inhabitants of Istanbul
The number of people who annually come from the countryside to live in Istanbul is estimated to be around 500 thousand people. In other words, the population of Istanbul increases by a rate that is around half a million residences per year.
1000 new streets and lanes are added to Istanbul every year and the number of houses and residential buildings are increasing all over the city.
More than three million guests visit Istanbul every year. This large number of tourists chooses Istanbul in stead of many other cities in Europe because of its cultural diversity and the large variety of highlights to be visited and activities to be done in the city.
Istanbul is considered to be the meeting point of religions, Christianity and Islam, and important historical transit point between Asia and Europe which are all harmonize and melt together in Istanbul.
Most of the inhabitants of Istanbul are Turkish Moslems but there are also many communities of minorities who live in the city like Jews and Christians who all live in harmony since ancient times.
Touristic attractions in Istanbul
A lot of visitors find many similarities between Istanbul holidays and Rome, as Istanbul was once the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. However, Istanbul will always have a special position between different European cities because of the Bosporus, the Golden Horn, and its many fascinating islands.
Istanbul holidays hosts more than 1000 mosques, 25 Byzantine churches, and a large number of remarkable museums. The city also hosts the one of the largest cathedrals in the world; the Orthodox Cathedral of Hagia Sofia built in the sixth century AD by Justinian I, or Justinian the Great, one of the most successful Byzantine Emperors. Hagia Sofia was transformed into a mosque in 1453 AD and afterwards starting 1935 it was changed to become a museum.
Istanbul has the honor as well to have the most remarkable historical mosques in Turkey like the mosque of Sultan Ahmed, or the blue mosque as its inner ornaments is rich with blue ceramics and it is the only mosque in Istanbul that has six minarets.
Another interesting highlight located in Istanbul is the Topkapi Palace which is now a museum that once served as the residence of the Turkish kings and queens.
Istanbul was the cultural center of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years. The city now has the most important university of Turkey and there are around 15 large libraries situated all around the city, many theatres, an opera house, and many various art exhibitions.
Transportation in Istanbul
Istanbul hosts the most important port in Turkey where cargo ships land on the Eastern and Western beaches of the city. There is also an important rout linking between Europe and Asia that passes through Istanbul making the city an important transit point.
The railway services are well established and developed in Istanbul as there is railway line that goes from Istanbul to many European cities with Paris at the end. This is besides the line going from Istanbul to other cities in Asia like Syria and Iraq.
The most convenient mean of transportation inside Istanbul is the metro as it is fast, secure, and prompt. If you are going to anywhere near downtown in Istanbul, don't miss the chance to take the metro.
There is the metrobus, a Turkish invention that consists of a bus that moves without stopping at any traffic jams or traffic signals which proved to be a fine mean of transportation as well.
Shopping is among the best activities to be done in Istanbul as the Turkish industry has developed in many fields especially skill textiles with its marvelous colors and oriental designs. Carpets and handmade crafts, jewelry, pearls, gold, pottery, and porcelain that were used for centuries to furnish the Ottoman palaces are all among the best products to shop for in Istanbul.
When a guest visits Istanbul and recognizes its uniqueness and views the matchless collection of monuments and historical sites including churches, mosques, fortresses, and palaces that the city hosts, he will definitely think of when his next visit will take place. This is because Istanbul has its magic and beauty that attracts people from all over the world to enjoy the masterpieces of art that can only be found in the city
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