About Istanbul (The Original History Channel)

Istanbul which has served as the capital city of various empires in its history is the most crowded city of Turkey and Europe.

With a population of around 13 million, Istanbul is the third most crowded city in the world following Mumbai and Mexico. Istanbul holds the 34th rank in the world with its annual production of 133 billion dollar. It is the cultural and financial center of Turkey. It extends along the coast of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus Strait in the northwest of Turkey and encompasses the Golden Horn. The European side of Istanbul is called Thrace and the Asian side is called Anatolia. Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. The city has 39 districts making up the metropolitan municipality.

Being one of the oldest cities of the world, Istanbul was the capital city of the Roman Empire between 330 and 395, the East Roman Empire between 395-1204 and 1261-1453, the Latin Empire between 1204 and 1261 and finally the Ottoman Empire between 1454 and 1922.


City Walls
Construction of the walls surrounding the city began in the 7th century. They were repaired four times and took their current shape after 408 A.D. During the reign of Theodosius II (408-450), the walls were extended from Sarayburnu along the Golden Horn to Ayvansaray, from Ayvansaray along the coast of the Sea of Marmara to Yedikule, from Yedikule to Topkapı and from Topkapı to Ayvansaray.

The walls are 22 km long. Walls of the Golden Horn are 5.5 km long and land walls are 6.5 km long. Walls of Marmara are 9 km long. Land walls consist of three parts: ditch, outer wall and inner wall. Today the ditches are used for agriculture. 96 towers are placed along the land walls at intervals of 50 meters. The towers, mainly square, are 25 meters tall and placed 10 meters away from the walls.


Dolmabahçe Palace:
The palace is located on the opposite side of Üsküdar at a point between Kabataş and Beşiktaş along the coastline from Karaköy to Sarıyer and on the coastline to the left while travelling from the Sea of Marmara to the Bosphorus Strait by sea. The Palace was named Dolmabahçe since it was placed on a filled site. The construction of the Palace was financed by external funds.

Beylerbeyi Palace:
The palace designed by Sarkis Balyan by order of Sultan Abdülaziz was built between 1861 and 1865 on the site of an old palace.

Topkapı Palace:
This is the oldest and the largest palace in Istanbul and in the world which has survived to this day. It is located on the acropolis known as the first established site of Istanbul and overlooks the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus Strait and the Sea of Marmara. It is a complex located on a site of 700,000 meter square site at the tip of the Istanbul peninsula surrounded by walls of 5 km of walls.

Yıldız Palace:
This palace which is located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul was constructed for Mihrişah Sultan, mother of Sultan Selim III (1789-1807) and used by Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II as the seat of the Ottoman government. Unlike Dolmabahçe Palace which is a single building, Yıldız Palace consists of a garden extending from the coast of the Sea of Marmara to the northwest of the site and covering the entire hillside and of palaces, mansions, state apartments, security and service buildings and parks located inside the woodland.

Çırağan Palace:
This historical palace is located on Çırağan Street of the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul. The most beautiful sites of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait were allocated to sultans and important persons for their palaces and mansions. Most of those buildings vanished in time. It was built by order of Sultan Abdülaziz in 1871 on the site of an old wooden palace and designed by palace architect Serkis Balyan. The palace was built in four years at a cost of four million gold. The inner walls and the roof were made of wood and the outer walls were made of marble. The construction of the palace was financed by borrowing from European countries.

The columns of the Palace which are the most beautiful examples of stone work were completed by richly decorated places. Rooms were decorated with precious carpets and furniture gilded and engraved with mother-of-pearl. Çırağan Palace hosted many of important meetings as did other palaces located on the Bosphorus. The façades of the Palace were decorated with colorful marble and monumental doors. It was connected with a bridge to Yıldız Palace. It was surrounded by high walls on the street side. Çırağan Palace burned down in 1910. The ruined palace was restored after a very long time and converted into a five star hotel. It has a decorative pool, a pier and a helipad in its garden. Today it hosts many social activities.


Taksim Square
Taksim district and square took this name from the stone reservoir from which water was distributed to Galata and Beyoğlu. Taksim which used to be a narrow district lined with old houses took its current shape after being extended as a square. The Republic Monument located in the middle of the square and its surroundings are used for ceremonial occasions and serve as a meeting place. A nostalgic tram runs from the square to the Tünel.

The symbol of Taksim Square, the Republic Monument, was created by the Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica and constructed in 1928. It was built in two and a half years and made of stone and bronze. It was built with financial support from the public. The Republic Monument is the first monument of the Republic Period that symbolizes Ataturk and the new order in a figurative manner. Taksim became an important site for various occasions with the placement of the monument in the square.

Sultanahmet Square
Sultanahmet Square is one of the most important squares of Istanbul. It was used as a hippodrome during the Byzantine period. The word hippodrome means horse path which comes from the Greek words hippos and dromos. It was called Horse Square during the Ottoman period.

Important structures and monuments from the Byzantine period few of which survived to this day were built around the hippodrome. Empire palace which was known as the "Great Palace" extended from the hippodrome to the coastline. The mosaic floor of the big hall has survived from the Great Palace to this day. The most important square of the city was Agusteion and a triumphal arch was placed between the square and the street. The street was the beginning of the road ending in Rome and the first milestone was located there.

During the Ottoman Empire, Janissary revolts took place in the hippodrome and it was used for forty days long circumcision ceremonies and festivals. In 1920, the Sultanahmet demonstration during which Halide Edip made a speech against occupation took place in the hippodrome.

The German Fountain which was constructed to commemorate the anniversary of Emperor Wilhelm's visit to Istanbul is located in the middle of the square. Istanbul Palace of Justice is located on the west side of the square. Today the square is the most important tourist hub of Istanbul.

Beyazıt Square
Beyazıt Square is a historical square located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul. It is a home to Istanbul University and Historical Grand Bazaar. This tourist destination is also where Beyazıt Mosque is located.

Public Transport in Istanbul
Public transportation in Istanbul comprises buses, and minibuses and share taxis in the outer districts mainly under the control of İETT, various rail transportation systems, and boats and modern sea buses which belong to Istanbul Fast Ferries Co. Inc. More than 11 million citizens are provided transportation services over an area of 5712 km square. The city has two international airports: Ataturk Airport and Sabiha Gökçen Airport.

There are two motorways extending from the east of the city to the west. The motorway on the south of the city provides transportation to the Bosphorus Strait and Trans European Motorway (TEM) provides transportation to Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and the opposite shore.

Istanbul Metro
Istanbul became one of the pioneers of metro in public transportation with the construction of Tünel in 1876. Since 1912 various national firms has made proposals concerning public interest and comfortable transportation. According to the İETT archives, the idea of building a big metro line in Istanbul dates back to 1908. Although it was recorded in the third volume of Mecelle-i Umur-ı Belediye that a metro license was granted to build a metro between Mecidiyeköy and Yenikapı, it is seen that this project was not realized. A French engineer proposed a Karaköy-Şişli line in 1912 and built an access to Kurtuluş. The first detailed Project, was proposed in 1912.

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Istanbul 2012 European Capital of Sports Istanbul has been declared as 2012 European Capital of Sports during European Flag Transfer Ceremony held at European Parliament
for more information   Istanbul Shopping Fest 2011 İstanbul Shopping Fest (İSF) is an annual festival that will enable İstanbul to become the shopping, culture and entertainment center of the world, realized under the auspices of Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Governorship of İstanbul, with the support of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM); and coordinated by Council of Shopping Centers (AYD), Trade Council of Shopping Centers & Retailers (AMPD) and United Brands Association (BMD).
for more information   39th ISTANBUL MUSIC FESTIVAL 4-29 JUNE 2011 for more information   İstanbul 2012 Dünya Salon Atletizm Şampiyonası 12th ISTANBUL BIENAL
The 11th International Istanbul Biennial ended on November 8th, Sunday.
Curated by the WHW / What, How & for Whom collective, the 11th International Istanbul Biennial was hosted at Antrepo No.3, Tobacco Warehouse, and The Feriköy Greek School with the contribution of 141 projects of 70 artists and artist collectives from 40 countries under the title "What Keeps Mankind Alive?" For two months since its opening on September 12th, approximately 101.000 people attended the 11th International Istanbul Biennial, the largest contemporary art event of Turkey which placed Istanbul at the center of the contemporary art agenda.
for more information   Top 10 Most Populated Cities in the World 9. Istanbul, Turkey – app. 7,774,169

Lies partly in Europe and parts of Asia, this port city is home to around 7.8 million inhabitants. About three-quarters of the population live on the European side.

Founded in the 600s B.C. by Greek colonists, the city named Byzantium. He was later named Constantinople in 330 AD, in honor of the Roman Emperor Constantine I. Following the conquest by the Ottoman Empire in 1453, the city was again renamed, and remains to this day Istanbul. Istanbul Metropolitan 8.3 million residents to enjoy the beauty of old world charm blends with modern.
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Source: Bloomberg - Businessweek

Bloomberg - Businessweek reports: In the latest issue of its Global Capital Trends, the 2010 Year in Review edition, Real Capital Analytics provided a global ranking by market for investment into existing commercial real estate. London topped the list with $23.9 billion in sales during 2010, followed by Tokyo and New York City as distant runners-up. London’s position reflected the UK’s declining currency and encouraging fundamentals outlook, which encouraged both domestic and cross-border investors to target the market.

Acknowledging this ranking, a recent article on Bloomberg aired findings from another year-end ranking by market done by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in cooperation with the Urban Land Institute. In that report, PwC found that Istanbul has become the “best place in Europe to buy of develop property as Turkey’s economic growth contrasts with declines across much of the region,” according to the survey’s 600 respondents.

In the PwC report, London and Munich were also highly rated by the respondent real estate professionals, while Athens and Dublin fell at the bottom of the list on account of their respective nations’ poor economies and prospects for growth.
for more information   A Turkish Idyll Lost in Time-New York Times In the July 10 issue of The New York Times (travel supplement), author LIESL SCHILLINGER talks about Büyükada, Istanbul. The article is titled “A Turkish Idyll Lost in Time” and it gives a brief history of the island, places to stay and eat, as well as its famous visitors from the Emperor that gave his name to the Princes islands to Leon Trotsky, who went on exile in the island between 1929-1933. Büyükada is the largest of the Princes Islands on the Marmara Sea and is easily accessible by ferry from Istanbul.
For more on Büyükada, please read the full article
for more information   EDEN -European Destinations of ExcelleNce European Commission has been encouraging sustainable tourism development models each year in different themes since 2008 with the EDEN; the 'European Destination of Excellence' Project.

EDEN aims to promote non-traditional tourism destinations both in the EU member and candidate states. Within the scope of this project;
Theme 2008 - Tourism and Local Intangible Heritage- Edirne and its Traditional Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Events,
Theme 2009 - Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas- Kuyucak Lake and Wild Life in Kars,
Theme 2010 - Sustainable Aquatic Tourism- Bitlis Nemrut Crater Lake were deemed worthy of an award by the European Commission.

'Tourism and Regeneration of Physical Sites' has been announced as the 2011 theme of the European Commission within the European Destinations of Excellence Project. The following web site will help you to discover the non-traditional EC award-winning tourism destinations of Turkey.
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List Reference: 356
Criteria: Cultural

" If the world was a single state, Istanbul would be the capital."
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Istanbul shot up 10 places in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) rankings from 17th in 2009 to 7th in 2010, thanks to a combination of effective destination marketing, expanded facilities and widespread recognition of Istanbul as one of the world’s trendiest and most exciting cities.

• High-level U.N. conference Held in Istanbul
The 4th U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries, or LDC-IV held at Istanbul Convention & Exhibition Center (ICEC). Twelve heads of states and 12 prime ministers participated in the opening ceremony of the conference.

• Vettel wins Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul
The Turkish Grand Prix, which is an annual Formula One race held at Istanbul Park Circuit in Istanbul, held from May 6 to May 8, 2011.

• Music Festival Time for Istanbul
The Istanbul Music Festival organised by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, under the sponsorship of Borusan is greeting the music lovers in its 39th year with a fully packed program.

• “Destination: Istanbul” project by MoMA New York
The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) and MoMA Design Store will realise a special project, titled “Destination: Istanbul”.

• The 30th Istanbul Film Festival Concludes
Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts and sponsored by Akbank, the 30th Istanbul Film Festival’s Golden Tulip Awards have found their owners at the closure gala and the awards ceremony which took place at Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Centre, on Saturday evening, April 16th.

• SIETAR Europa organizes a Workshop in Istanbul
Europe's largest association of interculturalists; SIETAR Europa organizes a Workshop for the Certification of Facilitators in the Cultural Detective® MethoB between 19 – 21 May 2011 in the gorgeous, historical, former Italian Trade Union Building Cezayir, Istanbul/Turkey.

• Istanbul hosted 2011 Global Summit of Women
Istanbul hosted the 21st Global Summit of Women between 5 and 7 May 2011. More than 1,000 women leaders and entrepreneurs, including first ladies and 35 female ministers from 81 countries met their counterparts and discussed winning strategies for advancing women’s economic lives and ensuring global prosperity.
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• Turkey hosted the 25th Winter Universiade in Erzurum
The 25th Winter Universiade held in eastern Turkey's Erzurum Province between 27 January and 6 February. The athletes competed in a total of 11 events, namely Alpine skiing, biathlon, ice hockey, curling, ski jumping, cross country, Nordic combined, snowboard, freestyle skiing, figure skating and short track. President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) George Killian said Turkey did a good job and hosted...
for more information   EYOF 2011 TRABZON European Youth Olympic Festival is the only multi-sport event involving both winter and summer festivals where only the European countries, 48 members of European Olympic Committees (EOC) participate.
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Aya Sofya is the great architectural landmark at the heart of Istanbul, with its four minarets poised like moon-bound rockets. Constructed in the 6th century AD as an Orthodox church, it later became a mosque and, since 1935, a museum. The enormous structure was built in just five years, and its musk walls are topped by an imposing dome, 31m wide and 56m high. The dome’s base is ringed by windows, so that from within the structure, the dome seems almost to hover ethereally above the building.
for more information   10 essential stops for Europe first-timers Robert Reid Lonely Planet Author
Once you’ve touched down you’ve reached the edge of Europe, where east meets west. In Old İstanbul explore the Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace and Aya Sofya. Then shop and dine in modern Beyoğlu, centre of the city’s nightlife. A boat ride on the Bosphorus gives you the chance to step foot in Asia, looking back at the Europe you’ve just explored.
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İstanbul, Turkey
There are few things more magical than getting up on a rooftop before dawn to listen to this city wake. As the mournful cries of the muezzins issuing the call to prayer weave over one another and the sky lightens behind the minarets, you’ll be working up an appetite for a sumptuous Turkish breakfast to fuel your perfect İstanbul day.
for more information   Lonely Planet’s top 10 unmissable experiences in İstanbul Virginia Maxwell Lonely Planet Author
We’ve all heard the descriptions of İstanbul being a bridge between Europe and Asia, a place where East meets West and where cultures have happily coexisted for centuries. But not everyone is aware of its endlessly fascinating contradictions. Here are the top ten ways to see how the different cultures of Istanbul unify.
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