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The most important reason why Istanbul has developed as a world metropolis is the geopolitic; location of the city. Istanbul, located where the 48. north latitude and 28. east longitude intersect, is the only city in the world which is established on two cointinents.

The city consists of three parts in general; On the European side, the Historic Peninsula to the south of the Golden Horn and the Galata District to the north, and the New City on the Asian side. The European side of the city is a trade and business center, whereas the Asian side is more of residential area. Istanbul is established on the both sides of the Bosphorus, that connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, and separates Asia and Europe. The 7 km. long narrow inlet, named as the Golden Horn, divides the European side of the city into two. Because of its location between Asia and Europe, the city always had a great geopolitical importance, Today, Istanbul is still a political and commercial center for the Balkan and Middle Eastern Countries and the Turkic Republics of Central Asia. The settlement, known as Byzantium after its founder, took the name Constantinople, the city of Emperor Constantine’, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. It was then known as Istanbul after the conquest of the Ottomans, and became one of the biggest and the most crowded city of Europe. The city is spread over an area of 7.500 km2, 150 km. long and 50 km. wide.

Although its population is not accurately known, it is estimated to be 12 to 15 million. Because of the continuous immigration from the rural areas, the city grows rapidly and the population increases around half a million every year. Each year, 1.000 new streets are constructed within the city, and brand new settlements rise on the east west axis. The population of the city, with a %5 annual increase, doubles in every 12 years. One out of every five citizens, is living in Istanhul. Around 2 million tourists visit Istanbul every year, and admire the historical and natural beauties of the city. Istanbul, where East and West, Asia and Europe meets, is a world city that different cultures and religions create the most harmonious synthesis. With particular consideration of historical monuments and cultural richness, Istanbul may only be compared to Rome, which carries so many similar characteristics. In Rome and in Istanbul, which was the capital for both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, administrators and governors constructed the greatest religious and civil structures, and decorated their capital cities with the most beautiful works of the famous architects. kizkulesi1.jpg (3904 bytes)The Bosphorus is unparalleled for its natural beauties such as the Golden Horn and the Islands. Its moderate climate, active night life, lovely people, and the excellent Turkish Cuisine are some of the other factors, which make Istanbul an attractive destination for foreigners. A foreigner wishing to know Istanhul closely should spend at least a week in this beautiful city.

Istanbul really is the place where east meets west both physically and culturally.
Istanbul is the world's only city to be divided between continents. Just a few
minutes in a boat or across the bridge finds you in Asia. Strangely though, the
European side often feels more eastern.

Minarets pierce the sky whenever you look up. Muezzins call the devout to
prayer at dawn, just as the last revelers straggle back from the city's

Stunning buildings from its past are everywhere. Once it was known as
Byzantium, then Constantinople, now it has the trappings of a thriving modern

But if you forget where you are as you sit in the cool, cosmopolitan interior of
your classy hotel, just set foot outside. You will be plunged back into a world
where traders push teetering handcarts through narrow streets, men smoke hookahs
filled with black tobacco and argue as they sip glasses of sweet tea, and
traditionally dressed women slip demurely into the background.

All this is happening in what is, technically at least, part of Europe.
Elsewhere in the city this fact can be easier to remember. The legacy of a
financial boom in the 1990s is a collection of bars, restaurants and clubs as
good as any further west.

And Istanbul has been a place to shop for millennia. Its traders haggle over
prices in the same way they probably did when Istanbul marked the start of the
Silk Route. Carpets, kilims, brassware and other objects, often of exquisite
beauty, as well as tourist tat, await you in the centuries-old bazaars.

Istanbul is a city of more than just contrast. The eternal contradictions
between east and west give it a vibrancy and energy unmatched anywhere else.
Diversity works.

When To Go

Spring and fall are the best times to go when the temperature varies from the
low 60s to the high 70s and it is not too humid. Avoid July and August when the
tourist attractions are hot and crowded. November through February experiences
the highest rainfall. But many of the sites are indoors and these are the
months when you can sometimes just about have them to yourself.

Five Things to Try

Much of your time in Istanbul will undoubtedly be spent in the Old City or
Sultanahmet. This is where most of the best-known sites are concentrated,
within reasonably easy walking distance of each other. But do not miss the
opportunity to go further afield, there is much to be seen in this ancient

If you only see one thing in Istanbul make it Aya Sofia, for a thousand years
the largest internal space in the world. Built as the Church of Divine Wisdom
at the time of the Roman Empire it became a mosque at the fall of
Constantinople. It is filled with stunning mosaics and a dome which glows from
the light of 30 million gold tiles. It is truly unforgettable.

Then look upwards as you visit the Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Cammii. From the
entrance a series of domes takes your eyes even higher, closer to heaven as the
architect Mehmet Aga intended. The dazzling blue Iznik tiles that line the walls
give the mosque its name. When it was built, the Sultan wanted an edifice to
outshine Aya Sofia. He almost succeeded.

Imagine the life of a Sultan in the Topkapi Palace. For nearly 400 years from
1453 this was the heart of the Ottoman Empire. The vast building with its
ornate gardens seems to have a place for everything, even a circumcision room.
Check out the enormous and sumptuously furnished harem quarters which were once guarded by eunuchs.

Haggle for your souvenirs in the Kapali Carsi or Grand Bazaar which is both
architectural extravaganza and shopper's paradise. No less than 4000 shops lie
under the lofty dome with its colonnaded galleries and calligraphy-covered high
walls. There are bargains to be had in traditional handcrafted carpets, jewelry
and leather. You will have to debate the price with the shopkeeper, but that is
half the fun.

Clean up in a real Turkish bath. Nothing in the west matches these temples to
ablution. One of the best is Cemberlitas Hamami, off Divan Yolu. Built in 1584
for the wife of a Sultan, it has baths for both men and women. For $15 or so
you get a wash and massage from an attendant that, at the time, will make you
feel as if your limbs are being pulled off. But afterwards, you will feel as
relaxed and supple as a baby.

Five Places to Eat

You are never far away from a snack, whether it is a fish sandwich, kebab or a
selection of small dishes known as "mezes". It is quite easy to spend days just
grazing between attractions without ever having a full meal. That would be a
shame because the city does possess some extremely good restaurants and most are
extremely well priced in comparison to their more western counterparts.

As you would expect, most of the restaurants feature Turkish cuisine. That does
not mean they are all the same. There are definite regional variations, as you
will discover, particularly if you sample some of the fiery Anatolian fare. As
befits a cosmopolitan city there are also strong culinary influences from other
countries such as Russia, France and Italy.

For a taste from the past, try the Daruzziyafe which has opened in the
Suleymaniye Mosque complex in order to preserve Ottoman cuisine. Some evenings
offer live traditional music to go with the soups and stews made to centuries-
old recipes.

More upscale is Le Select in Levent. Housed in a beautiful villa, it combines
Turkish, Russian and French influences with everything from delicate seafood to
steak. This is one to book for a special night.

Not quite as pricey but still something special is the Develi, one of the oldest
kebab restaurants in the city. The stunning views across the Sea of Marmara and
great food make this a place to remember. Try the Fistikli kebab with

Haci Abdullah in Sakizaqaci Cad always seems to be packed with locals. You can
see why. The food is good, especially the grilled meat and pickles and the
price is right. You would find it hard to spend $10 here.

And, just to show that Istanbul is not just for carnivores, vegetarian
restaurants are beginning to spring up. One of the best, Nature and Peace
offers meat-free versions of Turkish dishes and other healthy alternatives.

City Limits

Istanbul is effectively divided into 3 parts, one in Asia and two in Europe.
The Bosphorous, which flows from the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, separates
Europe from Asia. Actually the Asian side is rather dull and suburban, but it
is worth a trip over just to say you have been there and to see the views.

Another body of water, the Golden Horn, divides the western side. To the north
is Beyoglu, which was once unpleasantly sleazy, but is now the place to go for
fashionable restaurants, bars and clubs. To the south is the Old City where you
will find most of the main sights such as Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Aya
Sofya, the Hippodrome and the old city walls.

Getting Around

A taxi from the airport to downtown should cost less than $15. Driving is not
to be recommended except for the adventurous and well insured. In the city there
are a number of alternatives. Buses and taxis are plentiful, but tend to get
snarled up in the ever-present traffic. Quicker and pleasanter are the subway
trains and trams, but they run on very limited routes. The best way to get
around by far is on tthe boats that zip around the waterways. Either that or
walk, you will see more that way.

Istanbul book by Revak is not printed any more. We do not have any copies.

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