What You Need To Know About Istanbul
Istanbul is truly one of the most magical and most impressive cities of all over the world with its several historical places, churches, mosques, natural landscapes, nightlife and entertainment possibilities, its food and culture.
The city was ruled by the Byzantine Empire (395-1453) before being conquered in May 1453 by, Fatih Sultan Mehmet who became the new ruler of the city. The Ottoman Empire ruled the city of Istanbul for 470 years with the reign of thirty different emperors. They ruled the city until the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
A Quick Look At Istanbul
The city of Istanbul being one of the rare cities situated between two continents, consists of 9 islands, 39 districts, 647 kilometers coastline length, with a population of 15 million. The city is famous for its varied buildings. In fact, it has 1792 historical places, 28 palaces, 91 museums, 93 Turkish baths, 712 hotels, 28.650 restaurants, 49 universities, 36 libraries, 227 theatre halls and 882 movie theaters. It also provide a developed transport system with 2 airports, 28 ships, 50 scaffolding and 233 kilometers rail transport. Istanbul is an international attraction for tourists. In 2018, 13.433.101 tourists visited this beautiful city from all across the world.
Istanbul has three Bosphorus bridges connecting Asia and Europe. Let’s discover them together.
Boğaziçi Bridge officially known as 15th July Martyrs Bridge
Opening year: 1973
Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge
Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge
Opening year: 2016
Istanbul’s Best Tourist Attractions
When the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian entered his finished church for the first time, he yelled” Glory to god that I have been judged worthy of such a work. Oh Solomon, I have outdone you!’’ The Aya Sofya (formerly the Hagia Sophia) was the ostentatious statement to the world of the wealth and technical ability of his empire. Through its conversion to a mosque first and then into a museum, the Aya Sofya has remained one of the most important landmarks of Istanbul.
It was Sultan Ahmet The First’s great architectural gift to his capital. This nice mosque mostly known as the Blue Mosque today, was built between 1609 and 1616. It caused a sensation throughout the Muslim world when it was finished as it had six minarets, same number as the Mosque of Mecca. The mosque gets its nickname from its interior decoration of thousands of blue tiles. The entire spatial and color effect of the interior makes the mosque one of the finest achievements of Ottoman Architecture.
It was first built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in the 15th century. This spectacular palace beside the Bosphorus was where the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire ruled over their dominions up until the 19th century. The vast complex is a dazzling display of Islamic art with opulent courtyards lined with intricate hand-painted tilework.
4-The Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern was built in the city underground during the times of the emperor Justinian when Istanbul was called Constantinople. It was providing water to the palace and houses within this area. In times of the Byzantine Empire, there was not enough water inside the city walls and enemies were destroying aqueducts and poisoning the rivers that were carrying the water from Belgrade to Istanbul. So, this was a solution to keep drinkable water in case of need.
With 67 meters height, the Galata Tower rules over the Istanbul skyline, offering great views of the old city and its surroundings. The medieval stone tower which is known as the Tower of Christ was the tallest building in Istanbul when it was built in 1348. It still stands tall over Istanbul today. The tower has been modified centuries ago. At one time being used as an observation tower to spot fires. Today, its upper reaches include a café restaurant and a night club. If you are looking for a place to drink, this might suit you really well.
6- Dolmabahce Palace
Luxurious, stupendous, puissant are just some of the adjectives used to describe Dolmabahce Palace. Turkey’s most charming palace mixes traditional Ottoman architecture with the European styles of neoclassical Baroque and Rococo. It’s home to the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier. The Dolmabahce Palace’s setting is amazing: It was built along the Bosphorus coastline.
7-Istanbul Archaeological Museum
This museum is one of the most important museums in Turkey being the first one. It actually consists of three museums: the archaeological museum, the Ancient Orient Museum and the Tiled Kiosk Museum. These three museums contain more than 1 million objects from civilizations around the world. It was founded in 1891.
If you are a traveller who loves shopping, you should not leave out on a visit to Grand Bazaar. With 5000 shops, it is one of the largest indoor marketplaces in the world. It receives more than a quarter-million visitors a day. The bazaar features carpets, jewelry, spices and antiques. The bazaar was founded in 1461 and it is now home to 2 mosques, 2 steam baths and 4 fountains.
If you choose to visit this beautiful Suleymaniye Mosque, it surely will give you an inspiring sense of spirituality by its beauty and peacefulness. Suleymaniye Mosque is located on the Third Hill of Istanbul. Sultan Suleyman The Magnificent ordered to the mosque in 1550. The mosque is indeed magnificent, mixing the best of Islamic and Byzantine architecture. Suleymaniye Mosque was broadly damaged during the World War I when a fire broke out while the gardens were used as a weapon depot. The mosque was restored in the mid 20th century. The mosque is in a good shape now and it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Istanbul.
10-Chora Church Museum
The Chora Church has one of the best examples of Byzantine mosaic art. It was converted into a mosque after Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered the city of Istanbul and it was named ‘Kariye Mosque’. After the establishment of Turkey Republic, the mosque was converted into a museum. After the republic, experts of the Byzantine art came to Istanbul to work on the restorations of the Chora in order to uncover fantastic mosaics and frescoes. It was opened to the public as a museum in 1958.
Maiden’s tower was built on a rocky island near Üsküdar. It has been used as a variety of purposes since its first construction. This unequalled tower has a huge history that goes back to 2500 years ago. It witnessed all the eras that the city of Istanbul has encountered until this day. This unique tower was erected during the ancient age and constructed by renovations from the ages of the Byzantine Empire, the ancient Rome and the Ottoman Empire. The tower became a landmark today with its mystic appearance. Currently, the Tower’s first floor serves as a restaurant and the second floor of the tower serves as a cafe. You can go to the tower by scheduled boats. It’s really nice to eat a meal or drink a hot Turkish coffee there with your beloved ones.
Istanbul Aquarium is the world’s biggest thematic aquarium of the world. Istanbul Aquarium holds a leading position among other aquariums all over the world thanks to its volume, variety of fish species. It has a visitor area of 6.000 square meters. Istanbul Aquarium has approximately 1500 species, 17.000 land and sea creatures in total.
Taksim Square in Beyoğlu is one of Istanbul’s most dynamic and iconic places. During the Ottoman Period, this site was a collection and distribution center for water coming from Belgrade Forest. For this reason, Taksim means ‘distribution’ or ‘division’ in Turkish.
Istanbul’s Best Districts
Located in the Anatolian side of Istanbul, Kadıköy is especially famous for its historical Haydarpaşa Station. Besides it is one of the oldest settlements in Istanbul. The district still keeping the traces of history. It has a crowded population. Kadıköy is home to Fenerbahçe football club and Kadıköy’s iconic, the bull statue in the center of Kadıköy.
Situated in European side, it is a 8.76 sqm area surrounded by Sişli, Beşiktaş and Kağıthane districts in the north and Golden Horn and Bosphorus in other directions. The district is composed of 45 quarters and has no rural settlements. It is also one of the first settlements of Istanbul known as “Pera” which means “the other side”. Galata which was within the borders of Beyoğlu in the history was an area inhabited by Genoese in Byzantine times. When the foreigners coming from Galata and Christians settled in Istiklal Street known as “Grand Rue de Pera” by that time around the embassies it became a settlement with a European look. There are several rumors about the origin of Beyoğlu name. According to one of the rumors, it originates from Luigi Giritti, the son of Venice, the Venetian Baylo during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, not the Pontus Prince. This man called by Turks “Bey Oğlu” (literally Son of Governor) was born when the Baylo got married to a greek woman.
Beşiktaş is a district of Istanbul situated on the European side of the city within the boundaries of the Grater Istanbul Municipality. It is surrounded by Bosphorus on the east, Sariyer on the north, Sisli on the west and Beyoğlu on the south, facing directly across the Bosphorus the municipality of Üsküdar. It covers an area of 1520 hectares with an 8375 cost line along the Bosphorus although it is a small district in terms of its surface area (11 km²), Beşiktaş is located at the junction of arterial roads of Istanbul and therefore features the most outstanding district of the city with its central location. Since both of the bridges (Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet) connecting two sides of the city are within the boundaries of Beşiktaş, it stands out as a major transportation nexus. Beşiktaş is famous for the football club that took its name from this district.
Üsküdar was founded in the 7th century BC by ancient greek colonists from Megara as "Chrysopolis". A few decades before Byzantium was founded on the opposite shore. According to an ancient greek geographer, the city received the name Chrysopolis because the Persian empire had a gold depository there or because it was associated with Agamemnon and Chryseis' son Chryses, while according to an 18th-century writer it received the name because of the excellence of its harbor. The city was used as a harbor and shipyard and was an important staging post in the wars between the Greeks and Persians. It is the district where the Maiden’s Tower is located.
Map of Istanbul
Public Transportation In Istanbul
Metro Istanbul: Metro Istanbul, an affiliate company of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality operating the tramway, metro, light rail, funicular and aerial cable cars in Istanbul. It was established in 1988 by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to operate the rail system network in the city. Founded by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality for operating the urban railway network in the metropolitan area, the company currently operates 12 urban railway lines of 154,25 km, carrying over 2 million passengers daily. Winning the UITP’s (International Association of Public Transport) best practice award in meeting high passenger demand with its T1 Kabataş-Bağcılar Tram Line.
Metrobus: It has a line length of 50 kilometers and passenger capacity of 800.000 per day. The metrobus contributes to reduce traffic jam and emissions of harmful gasses. Its route is separated by ordinary cars and it has its own lane. That is much safer.
Tramway: Tramway works through a rail spread on the ground and it helps to reach the most modern areas and a lot of historical places of Istanbul. Tram and Metro users together in Istanbul reaches 2 million passengers a day.
Public Buses: There are 400 bus lines in Istanbul, the majority work until midnight every night. Except for Sultanahmet (accessible by tram) buses go all over the city. Destinations and major stops are marked on yellow signs on the sides of buses.
Boats: They allow you to move from Europe to Asia, and save a lot of time because the bridges over the Bosphorus are constantly congested. Once on the ferry you will truly understand the huge size of the city, it is also a good way to see the city from the water. The main piers on the European side are Eminönü, Beşiktaş and Kabataş and on the Asian side Üsküdar and Kadıköy .
Dolmus: A medium and small size bus with a shuttle transfer. Dolmus drivers can stop anywhere they want and pick and drop passengers without any fine. Dolmus is a fast and common way of public transportation in Istanbul.
Taxi: Turkish taxis’ identification numbers are on the front and back license plates, on the sides, and on the roof. Besides simply walking up to one or waiving one down, you can also call the local taxi stand and have a taxi come and pick you up. There may also be taxi "call buttons" strategically placed near popular locations, just press the button and wait.
Canal Istanbul Project
During the Montreux Straits Agreement, which was signed in 1936, 3,000 ships passed through the straits annually. However, over the years this number has increased gradually. Both the increase in Bosphorus traffic and the search for alternative routes for cargo ships' transit routes and planning have triggered the project. Currently, the number of ships that reach 50 thousand annually, passes through the Bosphorus. This number is expected to reach 100 thousand by 2050.
Best Places To Take Photos In Istanbul
Most of us use at least one of the social media platforms. We upload photos there and we always want to take nice photos for memories or just to share them with our friends. Istanbul is a beautiful place to take photos and I’d like to give you some good spots to be taken photos in.
1 - Galata Tower
2 - The Maiden’s Tower
3 - The bull statue in Kadıköy
4 - The eagle statue in Beşiktaş Downtown
5 - Blue Mosque
6 - Fishers on the Galata Bridge
7 - Rumeli Fortress
8 - Basilica Cistern
9 - Ortaköy Mosque
10 - Haydarpaşa Station
11 - Taksim Square
12 - Beyoğlu