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Surface Area: 5.712 km²
Population: 10.018.735 (2000)
Provincial Vehicle Registration Plate Number: 34
"There, God and human race, nature and art together created such a perfect place on earth that is worth seeing. So describes Lamartine of the city which embraces two continents reaching to Asia at one side and to Europe at the other side.
Istanbul which is known as capital of capitals and dominated first Roman Empire then Eastern Roman (Byzantium) Empire and continents and created geographical areas of peace, and served as capital of Ottoman Empire, moves forward into future while proudly keeping glory of the past. Diversity of Istanbul really captivates her visitors. Her museums, churches, palaces, mosques, marketplaces and natural beauty present never-ending nuances. When you sit back by the bank of Bosporus, you will watch reflections of the reddening colors of the horizon and suddenly understand why people chose this place several centuries ago and feel Istanbul is the city at the center of the world.
The most beautiful monuments of the city are located on the peninsula between The Golden Horn Estuary - Marmara Sea and City Walls. Silhouette of more than 500 mosques rising above the hills of the city creates a dazzling atmosphere. The people feel themselves as if in a dream passing through pastime and today. You should certainly see Sultanahmet Mosque which has become a symbol of Istanbul thanks to its six minarets and is also referred to as "Blue Mosque" due to blue china tiles used on its decoration. Across the Mosque, there is Hagia Sofia Museum which was constructed as a church during Emperor Justinien's reign; this building which is a prime example of architectural talents is ornamented with delicate mosaic panels depicting Jesus Christ, Mother Mary and emperors. Süleymaniye Mosque which overlooks these two magnificent mosques from another hill is pinnacle of Ottoman architecture. This mosque was built by Sinan, the Architect upon request by Suleyman, the Magnificent.
Over a hill which is overarching Marmara Sea and Bosporus is Topkapı Palace which served as mansion and political center for Ottoman Sultans for 400 years. You may see in Topkapı, collection of China Porcelains, thrones adorned with gold and precious gems, Sultans' costumes, jewels reminding those in the child stories, rare manuscripts and harem halls which stirred interest for several centuries.
Famous hippodrome of Byzantine Era between Hagia Sofia and Sultanahmet Mosque, where cart races were organized and three obelisks dated back to that era, in the middle of this hippodrome.
Sunken Palace (Basilica Cistern) is one of the most important water cisterns constructed during Byzantine Era. Kariye Museum (Chora Church) which is deemed as one of the most beautiful Byzantine era artifacts, still retain their original décor adorned with mosaics and frescos. Another place which you cannot help but see in Istanbul is Eyüp Mosque. This place gives a very lively setting with chirping of doves for those who seek spiritual enjoyment by visiting Eyüp Sultan.
Istanbul is also a city where historical structures meet the new ones, thus become renewed. While Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar) insists on bearing marks of those dreamy days through its labyrinth-like structure, it also unfolds the newest products of the modern world; magnificent jewels, copperware, carpets, different leather and suede clothing. When enchanted by its magnetism, you may walk around within this bazaar for several hours without feeling any fatigue.
A boat trip in Bosporus shall be in your unforgettable memories. Tranquil and unprecedented waterside kiosks lined on both banks of Bosporus, from which a separate love story is reflected onto waters, luxurious villas constructed during 20th century, Palaces of Dolmabahçe, Göksu and Beylerbeyi, Rumeli and Anatolian Castles, remains of fishery villages, restaurants, tea gardens, parks, night clubs may captivate you. You may swim in the sea on the wild shores of Black Sea then maybe write your history-making memoirs while sipping your cup of coffee in a tea garden on the tranquil coasts of Marmara Sea in the same day.
In addition to its unique history and cultural heritage as well as numerous attractions she has, modern hotels, exceptional restaurants, night clubs, cabarets, historical bazaars and shops, make Istanbul a paragon for conferences and congresses.
Adalar, Bakırköy, Beşiktaş, Beykoz, Beyoğlu, Eminönü, Eyüb, Fatih, Gazi Osman Paşa, Kadıköy, Kâğıthane, Kartal, Küçükçekmece, Pendik, Sarıyer, Şişli, Ümraniye, Üsküdar, Zeytinburnu, Büyükçekmece, Çatalca, Silivri, Şile, Avcılar, Bağcılar, Bahçelievler, Bayrampaşa, Esenler, Güngören, Maltepe, Sultanbeyli, Tuzla.
Important Districts
Bosporus: Istanbul visit cannot be fulfilled without having a traditional and unforgettable excursion towards Black Sea via Bosporus which separates Asia from Europe. Its shores which reflect grandeur and a pure beauty are a mixture of past and today. Modern hotels next to seaside kiosks, rustic palaces next to stone castles and elegant buildings in the districts which bears remains of small fishery villages… The best way to see Bosporus is to get aboard passenger sea-liners which crisscrosses the banks. The trip which starts at Eminönü, continues by resorting to Asian and European banks of Bosporus as if you are visiting your kin and kith during festival times. The trip approximately takes about 6 hours. If one wants to take the trip in a special way, s/he may apply to those agencies which are specialized in organizing daytime or nighttime trips.
The Golden Horn: A long and narrow estuary, called the Golden Horn splits European side of Istanbul. Since it's one of the most natural harbors of the world, Byzantine and Ottoman navies as well as those who are interested in commercial shipping gathered over there. Banks of this place whose waters get golden color during sunset, are surrounded by pleasant parks and promenades. There are streets which are full of wooden buildings, churches and synagogues dating back to Byzantine and Ottoman eras in Fener and Balat districts when you go towards mid of the Golden Horn. Patriarch of Orthodoxy is resident there too. Eyüp which is just a little bit above, is a place where carving is reflected in Ottoman architecture.
Sides of hills were covered on some places with graveyards containing dark colored cypress trees. Those who believe their prayers shall be answered, will visit Eyüp's Shrine, here. Pierre Loti Café located on the hill overlooking here is a perfect place for enjoying the scenery.
Beyoğlu and Taksim: Beyoğlu is a must-see district with the European influenced architectural legacy of 100 years ago, which retains characteristics of the era when it was built. The Tunnel, which is the second oldest subway of Europe, retains its title of shortest subway. It's possible to cross to Galata area which has become a landmark through its tower. Upper end of the tunnel is beginning of İstiklal Avenue. The pedestrian-only avenue where the old tramcars were put into service again, is surrounded by old embassy buildings which were assigned to consulates during Republican era. Museum of Divan Literature (Mevlevi Dervish Lodge - an artifact of 18th Century), located at the beginning of İstiklal Avenue is a beautiful structure. Several places which are more famous than each other are located on both sides of the avenue. Galatasaray High School on one side, Çiçek Passage which contains colorful, authentic restaurants and Fish Market on the other side. Cinemas, theaters, cafes, restaurants and recreational places along the avenue… The avenue which reached at Taksim Square regained its always vivid and crowded days and nights of the pastime.
The eye candy monument which represents Liberation War of Turk and Atatürk and his friends adorns the Taksim Square. Main terminal of the new subway is underneath the square and Atatürk Culture Center is north to it. Five star Hyatt and Intercontinental Hotels are located in Taksim Park, so is Istanbul Hilton Hotel. Hilton which is the first hotel constructed in Turkey (1955) in its own class, is still the most famous and the best. Radio House, Istanbul Military Museum, which is one of the richest of its kind, Lütfü Kırdar Congress Palace, Open Air Theater are located around here.
Sultanahmet: Important religious, administrative and civilian buildings of different empires are located in this district which is on the west end of the historical peninsula. The historical Sultanahmet Square is surrounded by such historical artifacts as Hagia Sofia, Haseki Hürrem Public Bath, Sultanahmet Mosque, Hippodrome, Obelisks, etc.
Ortaköy: Ortaköy which is located at the best part of Bosporus and once was countryside for Sultans of the relevant era, is a settlement which draw attention since Ottoman Era. Today Ortaköy which harbors Çırağan Palace, Kabataş Boys High School, Feriye, Princess Hotel and mosques, churches and synagogues, is one of the most important entertainment and shopping centers of Istanbul through its bazaar, portable "intellectuals bazaar", souvenir shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Sarıyer: At the road curve after Tarabya, one sees for the first time Bosporus meeting Black Sea. From this point to Sarıyer district, there are old summer residences belonging to embassies and individuals and seafood restaurants. A road leaving from Büyükdere, passes through woods and dams and arrives at famous Kilyos beaches of the Black Sea coasts.
Sarıyer and Rumeli Kavağı are the last quays on European bank for those who trips Bosporus via passenger ships. Both neighboring districts which are famous for fish restaurants, and Anadolu Kavağı which is located on the other bank are very crowded during holidays.
After passing through these settlements, Bosporus has only hills covered with green woods. The last settlements on both banks are Anatolia and Rumeli Lighthouses next to Black Sea as well as fishery villages.
Üsküdar: Üsküdar is the district which are identified with the Maiden's Tower. It has the quay through which you cross the other bank. Mosques of 16th century of the Square, monumental fountain in the middle, miniature Şemsi Paşa Mosque and Medresse at the coast are prime examples of Turkish Art. Historical Karacaahmet Cemetary and small and large Çamlıca hills are at the top of Üsküdar. The hills are covered by evergreen trees, and overlooks the Islands and Bosporus.
Kadıköy: There are no historical buildings in Kadıköy which is located on Marmara shores. It's one of the districts of Istanbul which rapidly developed within the last century. Several monasteries had later been built on ancient Chalcedon settlement. Important Christianity consul meetings of 5 century BC, were held here. Only a few of old mansions with gardens may reach today. Yacht Clubs, marinas, large streets run along the coasts of Kadıköy.
Fenerbahçe is a beautiful place to walk around. The famous Bağdat Avenue is renowned for its shopping facilities. Haydarpaşa Train Station which was completed in 1908 and has Prussian architectural style is at the exit of Üsküdar. The station was first (or last) stop of Baghdad railway. Graves and monuments of British and French soldiers who lost their lives at the Crimean War on the next hillside, is located next to large military hospital.There two large buildings situated on the hills behind the commercial harbor facilities. Former Haydarpaşa High School featuring a clock tower is now a university. The other and larger building is Selimiye Barracks having 4 towers (19th century). The room where Florence Nightingale stayed who nursed the wounded during Crimean War is preserved just like in the original state for the sake of Florence Nightingale.
Şile: This cute and beautiful tourism town, 50 km from Üsküdar is located on the shores of Black Sea. The vast and famous Şile beaches were arrived through partially completed highway and then curving road passing through woods. Fisher shelter, remains of Genoese castle and famous lighthouse are worthy of seeing. There are beaches on the west and some small sandy bays at the east of the town. The town is very vivid and crowded during summertime and there are several lodges and hotes.
Islands: Istanbul's islands which are also known as Prince Islands are 8 islands in Marmara sea one hour to the city. Boats and sea-busses which depart from the Golden Horn entrance and Kabataş quays, regularly go to four islands.
The islands where monasteries were built during Byzantium era, served as a summer vacation or exile place for courtiers and a small church which is the last church build by Byzantium in memory of Mother Mary, in Heybeliada is located in court of upper building of Sea High School.
19. Thanks to steam boats which were put into service by the beginning of 19th century, access to Islands became easier and when schools and hotels were also built, the population started growing. The four largish islands, located side by side are covered by summer resorts, villas, evergreen woods and famous for beaches and picnic areas. The Islands which becomes crowded from May to till the end of September are generally uncrowded. Only vehicle allowed on the roads of islands where settlements developed towards the wharfs, looking towards the city and whose hills are covered with evergreen trees, are horse carts (phaethon). Bays and beaches are points of attraction for private yachts and boats, sails throughout the season, but especially during holidays.
The first and the most famous of Sail and Water Sports Clubs located in each island is located in Burgaz Island. The story writer Sait Faik Abasıyanık lived in the Island and the house he lived in was converted into a museum and his regular resort was a famous café located in Kalpazan Kaya, which is famous for sunset.
There is Kaşık (Spoon) Island towards Heybeli Island, named so due to its shape. While there is upper building of Sea High School is located between twin hills of Heybeli Island, Greek Priest School is the largest building which catches the eye first, located on the other hill in the front, within the evergreen trees. The Sea High School runs along the coast next to wharf of the Island. Restaurants and tea houses are located on the other direction. There are a very beautiful bay at the back of the settlement areas and a public beach and facilities of Sea Club at the side looking towards Kaşık Island and behind it famous Değirmen Burnu (Cape Mill) picnic area. Beautiful tracking paths having good scenery interweave all island amongst the evergreen trees nearby the roads surrounding the hills. The Island is relatively lively also during winter time due to schools and sanatorium facilities.
The largest and the most famous of archipelago is Büyük (Large) Island. You can trip around the entire island through horse carts (phaethon) for a period of about two hours. However the half trip which is complete within an hour is more interesting. Yörük Beach amongst the public beaches, which is looking towards Heybeli Island is located in a magnificent bay. Dil Burnu (Cape Tongue) is a beautiful and preferred promenade. Unlike crowded settlement around the wharf area, south side of the Island is not populated. The bays here are resorted by boats. The old hotel, built in 19th century, which is now in ruins on the upper hills of the Island, maybe the largest wooden building of the world, struggles to survive with the hope of regaining its glory. The Büyük Island is very colorful and live with its restaurants, tea houses and shops around the quay. There are four hotels serving during summertime. Beautiful houses, well maintained gardens and unique views leave unforgettable memories in the minds of those who visit them. The Sedef (Mother of Pearl) Island is open to visitors with its beach.
Vast beaches of Kilyos which is located at 25 km from exit of Istanbul, on European shores of Black Sea, attracts denizens of Istanbul summertime. Belgrade Forest which is away from Black Sea on the European part, is the largest forest around Istanbul. Citizens of Istanbul come here by their cars for having a barbecue picnic under shadowy places during weekends. 7 pcs of old water tanks and some natural resources of the area, create a different ambiance. Amongst the Ottoman Aquaducts Moğlova Aquaduct which was built by Sinan the Architect in 16th century is the most magnificent one. 800 m long Sultan Süleyman (the Magnificent) Aquaduct, passing over the golf club is one of the longest aquaducts in Turkey.
Polonezköy, 25 km away from Istanbul was established by Polish immigrants on Asian side in 19th century. Polonezköy is a good resort for citizens of Istanbul for having walks and horse rides within a village atmosphere, tasting traditional Polish foods which are presented by the descendants of those who came here first. Beaches, restaurants and hotels of Şile which is 70 km to Üsküdar makes Şile one of the nicest holiday places of Istanbul. The area which is popular in term of tourism is also the place where the famous Şile fabric is produced.
Bayramoğlu - Darıca Bird Heaven and Botanic Park is an unprecedented resting place, 38 km from Istanbul. This gigantic park, having walking paths, restaurants, is full of various bird and plant species from various parts of the world.
The cute Eskihisar fisher village where yacht owners may drop anchor at the marina following their daily voyages in Marmara Sea is located to the southeast of Istanbul. The great painter of 19th century of Turkey, Osman Hamdi Bey's house in this town, has been converted into a museum. Tomb of Hannibal which is located somewhere between Eskihisar and Gebze is must-see places around the Byzantium castle.
There are summer resorts of several citizens of Istanbul in the popular holiday-resort Silivri, 65 km from Istanbul. This place is a large holiday area with restaurants, sport and health centers. And its conference center attracts the businessmen who runs away from the fast pace of the city for the sake of business - holiday activities and "cultural tourism". Scheduled sea bus service connect Istanbul to Silivri.
The islands within Marmara Sea which is adorned with nine islands, were once exile place for Byzantium princes. Now these island are places which wealthy Istanbul citizens escape to for cool breezes and elegant 19th century houses during summers. The largest of the islands is Büyük (Large) Island. You may have a wonderful horse cart (phaethon) trip amongst the evergreen trees or swim in one of the numerous bays surrounding the island.

Other popular islands are Kınalı, Sedef, Burgaz and Heybeli islands. The regular ferry shuttles connect the islands both to Asian and European banks. During summers there is fast sea bus service departing from Kabataş.


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