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Istanbul (Turkish: stanbul) is the largest city in Turkey, forming the country's economic, cultural, and historical heart. With a population of , the city is at the center of the second-largest urban area in Europe after Moscow, and among the world's largest cities by population within city limits.[1][2] Istanbul's vast area of is coterminous with Istanbul Province, of which the city is considered capital.[3] Straddling the Bosphorus one of the world's busiest waterways in northwestern Turkey, between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, Istanbul is a transcontinental city, with one third of its population living in Asia but its commercial and historical center in Europe.[4]

Founded around 660 BC as Byzantium on the Seraglio Point, the city now known as Istanbul developed to become one of the most significant cities in history. For nearly sixteen centuries following its reestablishment as Constantinople in 330 AD, it served as the capital of four empires the late classical Roman Empire (330 395), the Eastern Roman ("Byzantine") Empire (395 1204 and 1261 1453), the Latin Empire (1204 1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453 1922).[5] It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times, before the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453 and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold from which the last caliphate ruled.[6] Although the Republic of Turkey established its capital elsewhere, in Ankara, remnants of Istanbul's previous central role still remain highly visible across the city, with palaces and imperial mosques lining its hills.

Istanbul's strategic position along the historic Silk Road, rail networks to Europe and the Middle East, and the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have helped foster an eclectic populace, although less so since the establishment of the Republic. Overlooked for the new capital during much of the mid-20th century, the city has since regained much of its prominence. The population of the city has increased tenfold since the 1950s, as migrants from across Anatolia have flocked to the metropolis and city limits have expanded to accommodate them.[7][8] Arts festivals were established at the end of the century, while infrastructure improvements have produced a complex transportation network.

Seven million foreign visitors arrived in Istanbul in 2010, when it was named a European Capital of Culture, making it the world's tenth-most popular tourist destination.[9] The city's biggest draw remains its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but its cultural and entertainment hub have moved across the city's natural harbor, the Golden Horn, to the Beyo lu district. Ranked an alpha- global city, Istanbul hosts the headquarters of many Turkish companies and media outlets and accounts for more than a quarter of the country's gross domestic product.[10][11] Hoping to capitalize on its revitalization and rapid expansion, Istanbul is currently a Candidate City for the 2020 Summer Games.[12]



Byzantium (, Byz ntion) is the first known name of the city. Around 660 BC, Greek settlers from the city-state of Megara founded a Doric colony on the present-day Istanbul, and named the new colony after their king, Byzas.[13] After Constantine I (Constantine the Great) made the city the new eastern capital of the Roman Empire in 330 AD, the city became widely known as Constantinopolis or Constantinople, which, as the Latinised form of " " (K nstantino polis), means the "City of Constantine".[14] He also attempted to promote the name Nea Roma ("New Rome"), but this never caught on.[15] Constantinople remained the official name of the city throughout the Byzantine period, and the most common name used for it in the West until the establishment of the Republic of Turkey.

By the 19th century, the city had acquired a number of names used by either foreigners or Turks. Europeans[16][17] used Constantinople to refer to the whole of the city, while using the name Stamboul as the Turks also did to describe the walled peninsula between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. Pera was used to describe the area between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, but Turks also used the name Beyo lu, which is still in use today.[18] However, with the Turkish Postal Service Law of 28 March 1930, the Turkish authorities formally requested foreigners to adopt stanbul, a name in existence since the 10th century,[19] as the sole name of the city within their own languages.[20]

Etymologically, the name " stanbul" (, colloquially ) derives from the Medieval Greek phrase / or, in the Aegean dialect, (, Modern Greek " " ), which means "in the city" or, "to the city".[14][19][21] In modern Turkish, the name is written " stanbul", with a dotted , as the Turkish alphabet distinguishes between a dotted and dotless I. Also, while in English the stress is on the first syllable ("Is"), in Turkish it is on the second syllable ("tan"). Following Rome, Istanbul has been called "The City of Seven Hills" because the oldest part of the city is supposedly built on seven hills, each of which bears a historic mosque.[22]


First settlements

Byzantine remains of a column found at Byzantium's acropolis, located today within the Topkap Palace complex. Recent construction of the Marmaray tunnel unearthed a Neolithic settlement underneath Yenikap on Istanbul's peninsula. Dating back to the 7th millennium BC, before the Bosphorus was even formed, the discovery indicated that the peninsula was settled thousands of years earlier than previously thought.[23] Thracian tribes established two settlements Lygos and Semistra on the Seraglio Point, near where Topkap Palace now stands, between the 13th and 11th centuries BC. On the Asian side, artifacts have been found in Fikirtepe (present-day Kad k y) that date back to the Chalcolithic period.[24] The same location was the site of a Phoenician trading post at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC as well as the town of Chalcedon, which was established by Greek settlers from Megara in 685 BCE.[25]

However, the history of Istanbul generally begins around 660 BCE,[26] when the settlers from Megara, under the command of King Byzas, established Byzantion (Latinised as Byzantium) on the European side of the Bosphorus. By the end of the century, an acropolis was established at the former locations of Lygos and Semistra, on the Seraglio Point.[13] The city experienced a brief period of Persian rule at the turn of the 5th century BC, but the Greeks recaptured it during the Greco-Persian Wars.[27] Byzantium then continued as part of the Athenian League and its successor, the Second Athenian Empire, before ultimately gaining independence in 355 BCE.[28] Long protected by the Roman Republic, Byzantium officially became a part of the Roman Empire in AD 73.

Byzantium's decision to side with the usurper Pescennius Niger against Roman Emperor Septimius Severus cost it dearly; by the time it surrendered at the end of 195, two years of siege had left the city devastated.[29] Still, five years later, Severus began to rebuild Byzantium, and the city regained and, by some accounts, surpassed its previous prosperity.[30]

Byzantine era

alt=A crudely-drawn map depicting a walled city on a peninsula with a park, a network of roads, and a scattering of buildings When Constantine I defeated Licinius at the Battle of Chrysopolis in September 324, he effectively became the emperor of the whole of the Roman Empire.[31] Just two months later, Constantine laid out the plans for a new, Christian city to replace Byzantium. Intended to replace Nicomedia as the eastern capital of the empire, the city was named Nea Roma (New Rome); however, most simply called it Constantinople ("the city of Constantine"), a name that persisted into the 20th century.[32] Six years later, on 11 May 330, Constantinople was proclaimed the capital of an empire that eventually became known as the Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire.[33]

The establishment of Constantinople served as one of Constantine's most lasting accomplishments, shifting Roman power eastward and becoming a center of Greek culture and Christianity.[33][34] Numerous churches were built across the city, including the Hagia Sofia, which remained the world's largest cathedral for a thousand years.[35] The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople developed in the city, and its leader is still one of the foremost figures in the Greek Orthodox Church. Constantinople's location also ensured its existence would stand the test of time; for many centuries, its walls and seafront protected Europe against invaders from the east as well as from the advance of Islam.[34] During most of the Middle Ages and the latter part of the Byzantine period, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city on the European continent, and during parts of this period the largest in the world.[36]

Constantinople began to decline after the Fourth Crusade, during which it was sacked and pillaged.[37] The city subsequently became the center of the Latin Empire, created by Catholic crusaders to replace the Orthodox Byzantine Empire, which was divided into splinter states.[38] However, the Latin Empire was short-lived, and the Byzantine Empire was restored, weakened, in 1261.[39] Constantinople's churches, defenses, and basic services were in disrepair,[40] and its population had dwindled to forty thousand from nearly half a million, during the 9th century.[41][42]

Various economic and military policies instituted by Andronikos II, such as the reduction of forces, weakened the empire and left it more vulnerable to attack.[43] In the mid-14th century, the Ottoman Turks began a strategy by which they took smaller towns and cities over time, cutting off Constantinople's supply routes and strangling it slowly.[44] Finally, on 29 May 1453, after an eight-week siege (during which the last Roman Emperor, Constantine XI, was killed), Sultan Mehmed II "the Conqueror" () captured Constantinople and declared it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire.[45][46] Hours later, the sultan rode to the Hagia Sofia and summoned an imam to proclaim the Islamic creed, converting the grand cathedral into an imperial mosque.[47]

Ottoman and Turkish era

sultans]] ruled from the Topkap Palace for centuries.

Following the fall of Constantinople, Mehmed II immediately set out to revitalize the city, now also known as Istanbul. First he deported all the Christian population of the City, leaving only the Jewish inhabitants of Balat[48] then he invited and forcibly resettled many Muslims, Jews, and Christians from other parts of Anatolia and Rumelia into the city,[49] creating a cosmopolitan society that persisted through much of the Ottoman period.[50] By the end of the century, Istanbul had returned to a population of two hundred thousand, making it the second-largest city in Europe.[51] Meanwhile, Mehmed II repaired the city's damaged infrastructure and began to build the Grand Bazaar. Also constructed during this period was Topkap Palace, which served as the official residence of the sultan for four hundred years.[52]

The Ottomans quickly transformed Constantinople from a bastion of Christianity to a symbol of Islamic culture. Religious foundations were established to fund the construction of grand imperial mosques, often adjoined by schools, hospitals, and public baths.[52] Suleiman the Magnificent's reign from 1520 to 1566 was a period of especially great artistic and architectural achievements; chief architect Mimar Sinan designed the S leymaniye Mosque and other grand buildings in the city, while Ottoman arts of ceramics, calligraphy and miniature flourished.[53] The total population of Constantinople amounted to 570,000 by the end of the 18th century.[54]

View of the Galata Bridge spanning the Golden Horn, with the Galata Tower in the background, ca. 1892 1893.

A period of rebellion at the start of the 19th century led to the rise of the progressive Sultan Mahmud II and eventually the Tanzimat period, which produced reforms that aligned the empire along Western European standards.[55][56] Bridges across the Golden Horn were constructed during this period,[57] and Istanbul was connected to the rest of the European railway network in the 1880s.[58] The T nel, one of the world's oldest subterranean urban rail lines, opened in 1875;[59] other modern facilities, such a stable water network, electricity, telephones, and trams, were gradually introduced to Istanbul over the following decades, although later than to other European cities.[60]

The last Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI, departing from the backdoor of the Dolmabah e Palace a year before the declaration of the Republic of Turkey. Still, the modernization efforts were not enough to forestall the decline of the Ottoman regime. The early 20th century saw the Young Turk Revolution, which disposed of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, and a series of wars that plagued the ailing empire's capital.[61] The last of these, World War I, resulted in the British, French, and Italian occupation of Istanbul. The final Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI, was exiled in November 1922; the following year, the occupation of Istanbul ended with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne and the recognition of the Republic of Turkey, which was declared by Mustafa Kemal Atat rk on 29 October 1923.[62]

In the early years of the republic, Istanbul was overlooked in favor of the country's new capital, Ankara. However, starting from the late 1940s and early 1950s, Istanbul underwent great structural change, as new public squares (such as Taksim Square), boulevards, and avenues were constructed throughout the city, sometimes at the expense of historical buildings.[63] In 1955, the Istanbul Pogrom targeted the city's ethnic Greek community. The pogrom greatly accelerated the emigration of the city's ethnic Greeks to Greece.[64] The population of Istanbul began to rapidly increase in the 1970s, as people from Anatolia migrated to the city to find employment in the many new factories that were built on the outskirts of the sprawling metropolis. This sudden, sharp rise in the city's population caused a large demand for housing development, and many previously outlying villages and forests became engulfed into the greater metropolitan area of Istanbul.[65]


Satellite view of Istanbul and the Bosporus, connecting the Black Sea at the north with the Sea of Marmara at the south.

Istanbul is located in northwestern Turkey within the Marmara Region on a total area of . The Bosphorus, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, divides the city into a European side, comprising the historic and economic centers, and an Asian, Anatolian side; as such, Istanbul is one of the two bi-continental cities in Turkey, along with anakkale. The city is further divided by the Golden Horn, a natural harbor bounding the peninsula where the former Byzantium and Constantinople were founded. In the late-19th century, a wharf was constructed in Galata at the mouth of the Golden Horn, replacing a sandy beach that once formed part of the inlet's coastline.[66] The confluence of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn at the heart of present-day Istanbul has deterred attacking forces for thousands of years and still remains a prominent feature of the city's landscape.

alt=A high concentration of fault lines in northwestern Turkey, where the Eurasian and African plates meet; a small number of faults and ridges also appear under the Mediterranean

The historic peninsula - consciously following the model of Rome - is said to be characterized by seven hills. Each of these was topped in the Byzantine age by a large church, substituted by the Ottomans by imperial mosques. The hills are still surrounded by the surviving sections of the long late Roman and early Byzantine era city walls; the easternmost of these hills is the site of Topkap Palace on the Sarayburnu.[67] Rising from the opposite side of the Golden Horn is another, conical hill, where the modern Beyo lu district is situated. Because of the topography, buildings were once constructed with the help of terraced retaining walls (some of which are still visible in older parts of the city), and roads in Beyo lu were laid out in the form of steps.[66] sk dar on the Asian side exhibits similarly hilly characteristics, with the terrain gradually extending down to the Bosphorus coast, but the landscape in emsipa a and Ayazma is more abrupt, akin to a promontory. The highest point in Istanbul is aml ca Hill (also on the Asian side), with an altitude of .[66]

Istanbul is situated near the North Anatolian Fault on the boundary between the African and Eurasian plates. This fault zone, which runs from northern Anatolia to the Sea of Marmara, has been responsible for several deadly earthquakes throughout the city's history. Among the most devastating of these seismic events was the 1509 earthquake, which caused a tsunami that broke over the walls of the city, destroyed over 100 mosques, and killed more than 10,000 people. More recently, in 1999, an earthquake with its epicenter in nearby zmit left 17,000 people dead, including 1,000 people in Istanbul's suburbs.[68] The people of Istanbul remain concerned that an even more catastrophic seismic event may be in Istanbul's near future, as thousands of structures recently built to accommodate the city's rapidly increasing population may not have been constructed properly.[68] Seismologists say the risk of a 7.6-magnitude earthquake striking Istanbul by 2030 is greater than sixty percent.[69][70]


alt=Skyscrapers, both near and far, soar above a dense layer of fog that keeps the ground hidden from view.

Istanbul is characterized as having either a humid subtropical climate, according to K ppen climate classification system, or a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, according to the updated K ppen-Geiger classification system.[71] However, due to its vast size, diverse topography, and maritime location, Istanbul exhibits a multitude of distinct microclimates. Northern parts of the city, for example, express characteristics of an oceanic climate.[71][72]

Summer weather in Istanbul is moderately warm, with high temperatures in July and August averaging .[73] Extreme heat, however, is uncommon, as temperatures rise above on only five days per year on average.[74] Rainfall is also uncommon during the summer, with only four or five rainy days per month. Winters are cold, wet and often snowy, with the temperature in January and February averaging .[75] Snowfalls tend to be heavy, but snowcover and temperatures below freezing rarely last more than a few days. Spring and autumn are mild, but often wet and unpredictable; chilly winds from the northwest and warm gusts from the south sometimes in the same day have the tendency to cause fluctuations in temperature.[76]

Istanbul has a persistently high humidity, which can exacerbate the moderate summer heat. The humidity is especially salient during the morning hours, when humidity generally reaches eighty percent and fog is very common. The city receives fog an average of 228 days each year, with the highest concentration of foggy days being in the winter months, although it usually dissipates by noontime. Thunderstorms are uncommon, occurring just 23 days each year, but they occur most frequently in the summer and early autumn months.[74] Istanbul has an annual average of 124 days with significant precipitation, which together generate around of precipitation.[77] The highest recorded temperature was on 12 July 2000, and the lowest recorded temperature was on 9 February 1927.[78] The highest recorded rainfall in 24 hours was on 16 October 1985.[78] The highest recorded snow cover was in March 1987.[78][79]


Ottoman Neo-Baroque]] style Ortak y Mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge.

Istanbul has thirty-nine districts administered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (MMI).[80] The district of Fatih, which includes the neighborhood and former district of Emin n , is among the most central of these, residing on the historic peninsula south of the Golden Horn. The district corresponds to what was, until the Ottoman conquest, the whole of the city, across from which stood the Genoese citadel of Galata in the late Byzantine era. Those Genoese fortifications were largely demolished in the 19th century, leaving only the Galata Tower, to make way for northward expansion of the city.[81] Galata is now a part of the Beyo lu district, which forms Istanbul's commercial and entertainment center and includes stiklal Avenue and Taksim Square.[82]

Dolmabah e Palace, the seat of government during the late Ottoman period, is located in Be ikta , just north of Beyo lu, across from BJK n n Stadium, home to Turkey's oldest football club.[83] The former village of Ortak y is situated within Be ikta and provides its name to the Ortak y Mosque, along the Bosphorus near the First Bosphorus Bridge. Lining the shores of the Bosphorus north of there are yal s, luxurious chalet mansions originally built by 19th-century aristocrats and elites as summer homes.[84] Today, some are homes within the city's most exclusive neighborhoods, including Bebek. Further inland, between the First Bosphorus Bridge and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Second Bosphorus) Bridge, are Levent, Maslak, and Mecidiyek y, Istanbul's primary economic centers. Officially part of the Be ikta and i li districts, they contain Istanbul's tallest buildings[85] and the headquarters of Turkey's largest companies.

Like Beyo lu, the districts of sk dar and Kad k y on the Asian side were originally separate cities, Chrysopolis and Chalcedon, respectively.[25] During the Ottoman period, they continued to remain outside the scope of urban Istanbul, serving as tranquil outposts with seaside yal s and gardens. However, during the second half of the 20th century, the Asian side experienced massive urban growth, owning in part to the construction of the two Bosphorus Bridges in the 1970s and 1980s.[4] The fact that these areas were largely empty until the 1960s also provided the chance for developing better infrastructure and tidier urban planning when compared with most other residential areas in the city. While officially part of Istanbul, much of the Asian side of the Bosphorus functions as a suburb of the economic and commercial centers in European Istanbul, accounting for a third of the city's population but only a quarter of its employment.[4]

As a result of Istanbul's exponential growth during the 20th century, a significant portion of the city comprises gecekondus (a Turkish term literally meaning built overnight), referring to the illegally constructed squatter buildings that run rampant outside the centers of the country's largest cities.[86] At present, some gecekondu areas are being gradually demolished and replaced by modern mass-housing compounds.[87]


Istanbul is primarily known for its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, but its buildings reflect the various peoples and empires that have ruled its predecessors. Genoese, Roman, and even Greek forms of architecture remain visible in Istanbul alongside their Ottoman counterparts. Similarly, while the Hagia Sophia and imperial mosques dominate much of the city's skyline, the city is also home to a number of historic churches and synagogues.

While nothing of the architecture of the classic Greek period has survived, Roman architecture has proved itself to be more durable. Obelisks from the Hippodrome of Constantinople, modeled after the Circus Maximus in Rome, are still visible in Sultanahmet Square. [88] A section of the Valens Aqueduct, constructed in the late 4th century to carry water to the city, stands relatively intact over in the west of the Fatih district.[89] Similarly, the Walls of Constantinople, which were erected in stages well into the Byzantine period, are still visible along much of their original course from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn.[90] Finally, the Column of Constantine, erected in 330 AD to mark the new Roman capital, still stands not far from the Hippodrome.[89]


Early Byzantine architecture followed the classical Roman model of domes and arches, but further improved these architectural concepts, as in the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus. The oldest surviving Byzantine church in Istanbul (albeit in ruins) is St. John the Baptist of Stoudios (later converted into the Imrahor Mosque), which was built in 454.[91] Other extant structures from the early Byzantine period include the Hagia Irene, initially the first church in the new capital. After the recapture of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantines enlarged two of the most important churches still extant, Chora Church and Pammakaristos Church. The Galata Tower, high on the hill across the Golden Horn, is the only surviving tower of the wall built by the Genoese to protect their omonymous citadel. Still, the pinnacle of Byzantine architecture, and one of Istanbul's most iconic structures, is the Hagia Sophia. Topped by a dome in diameter,[92] the Hagia Sofia stood as the largest world cathedral for more than a thousand years, before being converted into a mosque and, now, a museum.[35][47]

Dolmabah e Palace, an example of the Ottoman Baroque architecture.

Among the oldest extant examples of Ottoman architecture in Istanbul are the Anadoluhisar and Rumelihisar fortresses, which helped block sea traffic aimed at assisting the Byzantines during the Ottoman siege of the city.[93] Over the next four centuries, the Ottomans continued to make an indelible impression on the skyline of Istanbul, building towering mosques and ornate palaces. These grand imperial mosques include Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque), S leymaniye Mosque, and Yeni Mosque, all of which were built at the peak of the Ottoman Empire, in the 16th and 17th centuries.

In the following centuries, and especially after the Tanzimat reforms, Ottoman architecture was supplanted by European styles. In contrast to the traditional elements of Topkap Palace and the mosques on the historic peninsula, Dolmabah e Palace, Y ld z Palace, and Ortak y Mosque in Be ikta , and Beylerbeyi Palace across the Bosphorus in sk dar are clearly of Neo-Baroque style. At the same time, the areas around stiklal Avenue were filled with grandiose European embassies and rows of buildings in European (mostly Neoclassical and, later, Art Nouveau) style started to appear along the avenue. Istanbul was one of the major centers of the Art Nouveau movement in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, with famous architects of this style building palaces and mansions in the city.


Istanbul's districts extend far from the city center along the full length of the Bosphorus (with the Black Sea at top and the Sea of Marmara at bottom).

Since 2004, Istanbul, the capital of the Istanbul Province, has been one of only two cities in Turkey (the other being zmit) whose city boundaries are concurrent with the boundaries of its province.[94] The city is administered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (MMI), which oversees the thirty-nine districts of the city-province.[3] Also included within the MMI's jurisdiction are seventeen designated towns, up to in size.[95]

The current municipal structure has its origins in the Constitution of 1982, which called for special administrative structures for Turkey's largest cities. Just one year earlier, Public Act 2591 had expanded the breadth of the country's metropolitan municipalities, which were first established in 1930; small towns adjacent to major population centers were converted to suburbs and neighborhoods and merged into the municipalities. With the 1984 implementation of Public Act 3030, derived from the Constitution of 1982, two-tier governments (comprising metropolitan municipalities and districts) were established for these amalgamated municipalities, including Istanbul.[80]

The main decision-making body of the city is the Municipal Council, headed by the metropolitan mayor. Members of the council are drawn from Istanbul's districts, which have their own councils and mayors.[96] The Municipality Council addresses citywide issues and promotes unity across Istanbul, passing laws that are binding on all of the city's constituent districts. In pursuit of these goals, the council's responsibilities include reviewing contracts, setting the fares on public transport, and regulating taxes.[97]

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Hall in the Sara hane quarter of the Fatih district was designed in 1953 Meanwhile, district councils are chiefly responsible for waste management and construction projects within their respective districts. They each maintain their own budgets, although the Municipality Council reserves the right to review and modify their budgets and certain other district decisions. One fifth of all district council members, including the district mayors, also represent their district in the Municipal Council.[98] All members of the district councils and the Municipal Council, including the metropolitan mayor, are elected to five-year terms.[96] Representing the Justice and Development Party, Kadir Topba now in his second term is the current Mayor of Istanbul since March 2004.[99]

Working alongside the Municipal Council is the Metropolitan Executive Committee. The Committee serves in an advisory role to the council, examining budgets, sales, and other issues, on which the Council will have the final say. The Committee also has the authority to execute and make decisions on some minor issues.[100] The mayor, or someone the mayor appoints, serves as head of the Committee. The remaining members comprise a secretary-general and people in charge of particular departments, including public works, and legal matters. All representatives on the Metropolitan Executive Committee are appointed by the metropolitan mayor.[101]

With the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and the Istanbul Province, having equivalent jurisdictions, few responsibilities remain for the provincial government. Similar to the MMI, the Istanbul Special Provincial Administration has a governor, a democratically elected decision-making body the Provincial Parliament and an appointed Executive Committee. Similar to the Municipal Executive Committee, the Provincial Executive Committee includes a secretary-general and leaders of departments, including health, education, and agricultural departments.[102] The Provincial Administration's duties are largely limited to the building and maintenance of schools, residences, government buildings, and roads, and the promotion of arts, culture, and natural conservation. These functions are particularly important to the restoration and preservation of Istanbul's historical sites.[103] The Provincial Administration also determines whether towns meeting a minimum population of 2,000 have sufficient funds to carry out the duties of a municipality. Seventeen such towns exist within the jurisdiction of the MMI and the Istanbul Province and have their own popularly elected town councils with functions similar to district councils.[95] H seyin Avni Mutlu is the current Governor of the Istanbul Province since May 2010.[104]


The Turkish Statistic Institute estimates that the population of Istanbul was 13,483,052 on 31 December 2011, making it the largest city in Turkey, with eighteen percent of the country's population.[1] Because of its vast land area, Istanbul is among the five largest cities proper in the world, even though its metropolitan area, roughly equivalent to the city proper's population, ranks below twentieth.[2]

Istanbul experienced explosive growth in the second half of the 20th century, with its population increasing tenfold between 1950 and 2000.[105] This growth in population comes, in part, from an expansion of city limits particularly between 1980 and 1985, when the number of Istanbulites nearly doubled.[80] However, the remarkable growth was, and still is, largely fueled by migrants from eastern Anatolia seeking employment and improved living conditions. The number of residents of Istanbul originating from seven northern and eastern provinces is greater than the populations of their entire respective provinces; notably, Sivas and Kastamonu each account for more than half a million residents of Istanbul.[8] By comparison, the city's small expatriate population amounts to only 42,228 residents, based on 2007 official estimates.[106]

Present population growth is placed at an average of annually, due to the influx of people from the surrounding rural areas; this ranks as the highest among the seventy-eight largest OECD metropolises.[11] During the first seven years of the 21st century, the city's population grew by . Istanbul's population density of 1,700 people per square kilometer (2,700/mi2) far exceeds Turkey's 81 people per square kilometer (130/mi2).[107] The most densely populated areas tend to lie to the northwest, west, or southwest of the city center, on the European side. The most densely populated district on the Asian side is sk dar.[8]

Throughout most of its history, Istanbul has been among the largest cities in the world. Its geographically strategic location, at the intersection of Europe and the Middle East, combined with its Byzantine and Ottoman political and cultural significance, quickly fostered a large, diverse population. By 500 AD, less than two centuries after Constantine the Great made the city his empire's capital, Constantinople had somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 people, edging out its predecessor Rome for world's largest city.[108] By some accounts, it had even achieved that title by 360 AD.[109] Prior to the Fourth Crusade and the arrival of the Latin Empire in the 13th century, Constantinople jostled with other major historical cities, such as Baghdad and Chang'an, for the position of world's most populous city. Following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Istanbul quickly regained and arguably exceeded its previous prosperity and diversity. While it never returned to being the world's largest, it remained Europe's largest city until the start of the 19th century.[109] Today, it is Europe's second-largest city, after Moscow.[2]

Religious and ethnic groups

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is colloquially known as the Blue Mosque.

Istanbul has been a cosmopolitan city throughout much of its history, being at the crossroads of two continents and having been the heart of two world religions. Most of the religious and ethnic minorities that exist in Turkey are concentrated in Istanbul.

The vast majority of people across Turkey, and in Istanbul, consider themselves Muslim, and more specifically members of the Sunni branch of Islam. Of the Sunnis, most follow the Hanafi school of Islamic thought, although approximately ten percent of Sunni Muslims follow the Shafi'i school. The largest non-Sunni Muslim sect, accounting for Turks, is the Alevis; a third of all Alevis in the country live in Istanbul. Today, there are around three thousand active mosques across Istanbul.[110]

Istanbul served as the seat of the Islamic Caliphate from 1517 to 1924, when it was dissolved and its powers were handed over to the Turkish Parliament.[6] In September 1925, the tekkes (Sufi gathering places) and tarikat (Sufi religious orders) were banned, as their activities were deemed incompatible with the characteristics of the new, secular republic. Most followers of Sufism and other forms of Islamic mysticism practiced clandestinely (as "cultural associations") afterward, and some of these sects still boast numerous followers.[111]

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate]].

The Patriarch of Constantinople has been designated Ecumenical Patriarch since the 5th century. The Ecumenical Patriarch is widely regarded as the leader of the world's Orthodox Christians (although this role has been disputed by the Moscow Patriarchate). Since 1600, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has been based in Istanbul's Church of St. George. Istanbul's Orthodox Christians are members of the Greek Orthodox Church. However, the Christian population today is much lower than it used to be, having dropped from 450,000 to 240,000 between 1914 and 1927, as a series of wars plagued the outgoing empire and the new republic.[112]

Greeks have been living continuously in Istanbul since the city's founding in antiquity. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 100,000 Greeks living in Istanbul,[113] especially in the Fener and Samatya quarters, and over living in Anatolia as a whole.[114] Due to their role in the Turkish economy, the ethnic Greeks of Istanbul living in the city before 30 October 1918 (the etablis) were excluded from the 1923 population exchange. However, because of the 1942 wealth tax, the 1955 Istanbul Pogrom, the 1964 expulsions[113] and the 1974 Cyprus crisis, the number of Greeks in Istanbul diminished enormously, and is today estimated to comprise between 2,000 and 4,000, mostly elderly, citizens.[115]

Ashkenazi Synagogue]] is the last remaining place of worship built by the city's small Ashkenazi population Istanbul used to have a sizable Armenian population, especially in the Kumkap district, dating back to Byzantine times. Only during the 20th century did the population begin to decline, although immigrants from Armenia have recently caused it to rebound. In 2008, Istanbul's Armenian minority was numbered at 85,000, comprising 45,000 Armenian citizens of Turkey and 40,000 Armenian citizens who have immigrated to the city since 1991.[115][116] A number of places reflect past immigration of different communities into Istanbul; most notable among them are Arnavutk y (Albanian village), Polonezk y (Polish village), and Yenibosna (New Bosnia). What is now the Beyo lu district also used to be home to Italians and Franco-Levantines, but these minority groups have virtually disappeared, having emigrated or moved to other districts.

Sephardi Jews have lived in the city, especially in the Balat district, for over five hundred years, after fleeing the Iberian Peninsula during the Spanish Inquisition. More than fled first to North Africa and Italy before arriving in Istanbul, while an additional 93,000 were rescued at the behest of Sultan, Bayezid II ( 1481 1512). Another large group of Sephardic Jews came from southern Italy, which was under Spanish control. Ashkenazi Jews resided in Istanbul before the Sephardim, but today their numbers are very small; today, just four percent of Turkey's are Ashkenazi. The vast majority of the Jews Sephardi or Ashkenazi that remain in the country reside in Istanbul, which has about twenty synagogues.[117]

The largest ethnic minority in Istanbul is represented by the Kurds, originating from eastern and southeastern Anatolia. Although the Kurdish presence in the city dates back to the early Ottoman period,[118] the influx of Kurds into the city has accelerated since the beginning of the Kurdish Turkish conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (i.e. since the late 1970s).[119] Currently, some sources estimate that three million residents of Istanbul a quarter of the city's population is Kurdish,[120] meaning there are more Kurds in Istanbul than in any other city in the world.[121] That means about one fifth of all Kurds in Turkey live in Istanbul. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, but some are Yazidi or Yarsani.


alt=Skyscrapers, both near and far, soar above a dense layer of fog that keeps the ground hidden from view. Apart from being the largest city and former political capital of the country, Istanbul has always been the center of Turkey's economic life because of its location at the junction of international land and sea trade routes.

With a GDP of in 2008, Istanbul ranked 34th among the world's urban areas in terms of gross domestic product, according to a survey by PwC.[122] Istanbul is responsible for of Turkey's GDP, with of the country's industrial labor force residing in the city.[11][107] Its GDP per capita and productivity are greater than their national averages by seventy percent and fifty percent, respectively, owing in part to the focus on high-value-added activities. With its high population and significant contribution to the Turkish economy, Istanbul is responsible for two fifths of the nation's tax revenue.[11] That includes the taxes of based in Istanbul, the 5th-highest number among global cities, according to Forbes.[123]

alt=A city street, with several parked vans, flanked by stone buildings alongside As expected for a city of its size, Istanbul has a diverse industrial economy, producing commodities as varied as olive oil, tobacco, transport vehicles, and electronics.[107] Despite having a focus on high-value-added work, its low-value-added manufacturing sector is substantial, representing just 26% of Istanbul's GDP, but four fifths, of the city's total exports.[11] In 2005, companies based in Istanbul produced exports worth US$41.4 billion and received imports totaling US$69.9 billion; these figures were equivalent to 57% and 60%, respectively, of the national totals.[124]

Istanbul is home to Turkey's only securities market, the Istanbul Stock Exchange. Although it was originally established as the Ottoman Stock Exchange in 1866, its importance declined after the Great Depression in the 1930s. It was ultimately reorganized into its current form at the start of 1986, following a series of governmental financial liberalization programs.[125] In 1995, the Istanbul Stock Exchange moved to its current building in the stinye quarter.[126]

During the 19th century and early 20th century, Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street) in Galata was the financial center of the Ottoman Empire, where the Ottoman Stock Exchange was located. The Ottoman central bank also had its headquarters along the street; it was established as the Bank- Osman (Ottoman Bank) in 1856 before being renamed as the Bank-i- Osmani ahane (Imperial Ottoman Bank) in 1863.[127] Bankalar Caddesi continued to be Istanbul's main financial district until the 1990s, when most Turkish banks began moving their headquarters to the modern central business districts of Levent and Maslak. In 1995, the Istanbul Stock Exchange moved to its current building in the Istinye quarter of the Sar yer district.[128]


alt=A busy street lined with shops in historic stone buildings

Because of its rich and long history reflected in its plethora of sites and monuments, and its location at the threshold of the Middle East, Istanbul is a major tourist destination. In 2010, when Istanbul was named a European Capital of Culture, the city received foreign tourists, down from in the previous year but up from the mere it received in 2000.[129][130] Istanbul is Turkey's second-largest international gateway, after Antalya, receiving a quarter of the nation's foreign tourists. Accounting for fifteen percent of tourists from abroad, Germany (which has the largest Turkish population outside Turkey) is the most common source of international tourists to Istanbul. While most of these tourists enter Istanbul through one of its two international airports, half a million foreign tourists enter the city by sea, as its a popular destination for cruise ships.[130]

In 2009, Istanbul had approximately licensed by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism, ninety percent of which are located on the European side. Low- and mid-range hotels, including locally-licensed (rather than nationally-licensed) hotels, tend to be located in Fatih and around Sultanahmet Square (originally the Hippodrome of Constantinople) on the historic peninsula, while higher-end hotels are primarily located in Be ikta , Beyo lu, i li, and other areas north of the Golden Horn. The city has sixty-nine museums (comparable to London's seventy-six), with its most visited being the Topkap Palace Museum. The Topkap Palace Museum, visited by three million people annually, accounts for about half of the () taken in by Istanbul museums each year. Istanbul's second-most-visited museum is the nearby Hagia Sophia Museum, earning () from visitors each year. The city's environmental master plan also notes there are , , and of historical significance.[130]


Istanbul has long been known as a cultural hub due to its historical position as capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. However, when the Turkish Republic turned its focus away from Istanbul and toward Ankara, its cultural scene throughout the mid-20th century laid relatively stagnant, seeing limited success on the international, and even national, level. The government of the new republic established programs that served to engender Turks toward musical traditions, especially those originating in Europe, but musical institutions and visits by foreign classical artist were primarily centered in the new capital.[131] Although much of Turkey's cultural scene had its roots in Istanbul, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that Istanbul reemerged globally as a city whose cultural significance is not solely based on its past glory.

Fine arts

The Pera Museum is one of several contemporary art museums that opened during the 2000s in Beyo lu, Istanbul's artistic and cultural heart.

Traditional visual art forms in Istanbul date back to the Ottoman era, when European and Ottoman painters began to depict the city's landscape in their work.[132] By the end of the 19th century, Istanbul had established itself as a regional artistic center, with Turkish, European, and Middle Eastern artists flocking to the city. Despite efforts to make Ankara Turkey's cultural heart, Istanbul's Fine Arts Academy (now the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts) remained the country's primary institution of art until the 1970s.[133] Since then, Istanbul has reemerged as the country's artistic center, as artists formerly based in Ankara moved in, taking advantage of universities and art journals founded during the 1980s. Art in Istanbul began to be seen as having an analytical role, rather than just being an elitist culture concerned only with aesthetics.[134] Turkish artists continue to depict orientalist themes for an international audience, but art in the city now also addresses Turkish political themes or simply resembles Western contemporary art. Beyo lu has been transformed into the artistic center of the city, with young artists and older Turkish artists formerly residing abroad finding footing there. Exhibition spaces, auction houses, and museums of modern art, including stanbul Modern, have further contributed to the cosmopolitan nature of the district.[135]

Still, Istanbul's contemporary arts have struggled to pique the interest of visitors. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism estimated that, in 2009, there were in Istanbul, comparable to London's seventy-six and Barcelona's fifty-one. The city's most popular the Hagia Sophia and Topkap Palace, with Chora Church a distant third are of a historical nature, buildings stripped of their religious and political functions and converted to museums.[130] While not as profitable, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums are among the most significant in Turkey, regarded as ushering in the era of modern museums in the country; established in 1891 in a purpose-built structure, the set of three museums together hold a collection of a million artifacts.[136] Istanbul's most popular gallery dedicated to the visual arts is the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, although its exhibits also feature works prior to the 20th century. stanbul Modern, the Pera Museum, and SantralIstanbul are among the museums that opened north of the Golden Horn during the 2000s in an effort to fill that void but, while they have received acclaim, they have yet to receive the number of visitors their predecessors on the historic peninsula have.[130]

Y ld z Palace hosted Turkey's first movie screening in 1896.

Cinema has a long history in Istanbul, with the first screening in the country at Y ld z Palace in 1896, just a year after the technology publicly debuted in Paris.[137] Movie theaters rapidly cropped up in Beyo lu, with the greatest concentration of theaters being along the street now known as stiklal Avenue.[138] Istanbul also became the heart of Turkey's nascent film industry, although Turkish films were not consistently developed until the 1950s.[139] Since then, Istanbul has been the most popular location to film Turkish dramas and comedies.[140] In the interim, movie theaters primarily showed foreign films from the most-profitable American and European markets. While the Turkish film industry ramped up in the second half of the century, it was not until the 2002 film Uzak, set and filmed in Istanbul, that the nation's films saw substantial international success. Istanbul and its picturesque skyline have also served as a backdrop for a number of American and European films, including From Russia with Love (1963), Midnight Express (1978), The World Is Not Enough (1999), The International (2009), and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011).[141] Indian filmmakers have also recently discovered Istanbul's cinematic allure, with Guru (2007) and Mission Istaanbul (2008) filmed there.[142]

Coinciding with this reemergence on the cultural scene was the establishment of number of festivals now organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. The oldest of these was the Istanbul Festival, which began showcasing a variety of art music, dance, visual art, and film from Turkey and around the world in 1973. From this flagship festival came the International Istanbul Film Festival and the Istanbul International Jazz Festival in the early 1980s. With its focus now solely on music and dance, the Istanbul Festival has been known as the Istanbul International Music Festival since 1994.[143] The most prominent of the festivals that evolved from the original Istanbul Festival is the Istanbul Biennial, held every two years since 1987. While its early incarnations were aimed at showcasing Turkish visual art, it has since opened to international artists and risen in prestige to become among the elite biennales, alongside the Venice Biennale and the S o Paulo Art Biennial.[144] Live shows and concerts are hosted in a number of purpose-built venues across the city, including Atat rk Cultural Center, Cemal Re it Rey Concert Hall, and the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre, but cultural events are sometimes held at historical sites (such as the Hagia Irene, Rumeli Fortress, G lhane Park, and even the courtyard of Topkap Palace).

Leisure and entertainment

Turkish baths, or hamams, were a staple of Ottoman society, and although some have since been converted to cafes or stand as unused, historic relics, they still have a place in modern Istanbul. Popular among Turks and tourists alike, many Turkish baths, such as Ca alo lu Hamam, have been continuously operated for hundreds of years.[145] For those opting to cool off instead, the city has recently reopened many of its beaches along the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus; Bak rk y, K k ekmece, and Sar yer are among the most frequented beachside locations in the city today.

Istanbul does not have a primary urban park, unlike other large cities, but it does have green areas in different parts of the city. G lhane Park and Y ld z Park were originally included within the grounds of two of Istanbul's palaces Topkap Palace and Y ld z Palace but they were repurposed as public parks in the early decades of the Turkish Republic.[146] Across from Y ld z Palace, adjacent to the Bosphorus Bridge, Fethi Pa a Korusu resides on a hillside on the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus. Along the European side of the Bosphorus, and closer to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, is Emirgan Park; originally a private estate belonging to Ottoman leaders, the park is known for its diversity of plants and an annual tulip festival held since 2005.[147] Popular during the summer among Istanbulites escaping the city is Belgrad Forest, expanding across a vast area at the northern edge of the city. The forest originally supplied water to the city, remnants of reservoirs used during Byzantine and Ottoman times can still be observed within.[148][149]

The Grand Bazaar]] is one of the largest covered markets in the world. Istanbul has numerous shopping centers, from the historic to the modern. The Grand Bazaar is among the world's oldest and largest covered markets, having been in operation since 1461.[150][151] Mahmutpa a Bazaar, established a year later, extends between the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar, which has been Istanbul's major spice market since 1660. Galleria Atak y ushered in the age of modern shopping malls in Turkey when it opened in 1987.[152] Since then, malls have become major shopping centers outside the historic peninsula. Akmerkez was awarded the title of Europe's best shopping mall by the International Council of Shopping Centers, while Istanbul Cevahir has been among the continent's largest since opening in 2005.[151] Abdi pek i Street in Ni anta and Ba dat Avenue on the Anatolian side of the city have evolved into high-end shopping districts,[153][154] while stiklal Avenue forms the backbone of Beyo lu.[155]

Nevizade Street is known for its winehouses and pubs. Aside from typical Turkish cuisine like kebab, Istanbul is also famous for its historic seafood restaurants. Many of the city's most popular and upscale seafood restaurants line the shores of the Bosphorus, while the Kumkap neighborhood along the Sea of Marmara has a pedestrian zone that hosts around fifty fish restaurants.[156] The Princes' Islands, from the city center, are also popular for their seafood restaurants. Because of their restaurants, historic summer mansions, and tranquil, car-free atmospheres, the Princes' Islands are a popular vacation destination among Istanbulites and foreign tourists.[157]

Restaurants featuring foreign cuisine also thrive in the city, especially in the Beyo lu district. Residing along stiklal Avenue is the i ek Pasaj , originally built by Greek philanthropist Christakis Zografos as apartment building and shopping center known as Cit de Pera. In the mid-20th century, the building's focus shifted toward nightlife, the i ek Pasaj has been to home to upscale winehouses (known as meyhanes), pubs, and restaurants.[158] While the focus of stiklal Avenue, originally famous for its taverns, has shifted the other direction away from nightlife and toward shopping the nearby Nevizade Street still retains its repuation for being lined with winehouses and pubs.[155][159] Some other neighborhoods around stiklal Avenue have recently been revamped to cater to Beyo lu's nightlife; Cezayir Soka ("Algeria Street") is at the center of such a transformed area, as it is now lined with pubs, caf s, and restaurants playing live music.[160]

Other focal points for Istanbul's nightlife are the high-end neighborhoods of Ni anta and Bebek, as well as, to a lesser extent, Kad k y on the other side of the Bosphorus. Open-air seaside nightclubs, popular during the summertime, primarily line the European side of the Bosphorus, between Beyo lu and the Ortak y neighborhood by the Bosphorus Bridge.[161]


With a capacity of 76,092 spectators, Atat rk Olympic Stadium is Turkey's largest multi-purpose stadium. It hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final.

During the Roman and Byzantine periods, the most important sporting events in Constantinople were the quadriga chariot races that were held at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which had a capacity of more than 100,000 spectators.[162] Today, sports remain very popular in Istanbul, which has been named the 2012 European Capital of Sport.[163] Its sports prowess is known across Turkey for being home to the country's oldest and by some measures, most successful sports clubs.

Be ikta J.K., established in 1903, is considered the oldest of these sports clubs; due to its initial status as Turkey's only club, it occasionally played as the national team.[83] Its football team has seen several periods of dominance in national competition, particularly in the 1940s and early 1990s,[83] but Istanbul's Galatasaray S.K. (est. 1905) and Fenerbah e S.K. (est. 1907) tie for the honor of winning the most national championships.[164] Galatasaray and Fenerbah e have also excelled at the international level, with the former having won the 1999 2000 UEFA Cup and the latter having reached the quarterfinals of the 2007 08 UEFA Champions League.[164][165] The two clubs have a long-standing rivalry across the Bosphorus, with Galatasaray based in European Istanbul and Fenerbah e based in the Anatolian part of the city.[164] The basketball teams for Be ikta , Galatasaray and Fenerbah e, along with Anadolu Efes S.K., have also enjoyed success while Fenerbah e, Eczac ba , and Vak fbank have performed well in volleyball.

Many of Istanbul's sports facilities were built or upgraded during the 2000s in an effort to bolster the city's bids for the Summer Olympic Games. Atat rk Olympic Stadium, the largest multi-purpose stadium in Turkey, was completed in 2002 as a five-star (now Category 4) UEFA stadium and an IAAF first-class venue for track and field.[166] The stadium hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final and remains the home field of stanbul B y k ehir Belediyespor. kr Saraco lu Stadium, Fenerbah e's home field, is also a five-star UEFA stadium, completed in 2006;[167] it hosted the 2009 UEFA Cup Final, the only UEFA Cup final to take place outside the European continent and the last before the Cup was replaced by the UEFA Europa League.[168] T rk Telekom Arena also opened in 2011 to replace Ali Sami Yen Stadium as Galatasaray's home turf; the arena, alongside Atat rk Olympic Stadium, served as the centerpiece of Turkey's unsuccessful bid for UEFA Euro 2016.[169]

Fenerbah e]]'s basketball teams.

The Sinan Erdem Dome, among the largest indoor arenas in Europe, hosted the final of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, and the 2011 12 Euroleague Final Four.[170] Prior to the completion of the Sinan Erdem Dome in 2010, Abdi pek i Arena (completed in 1986) was Istanbul's primary indoor arena; it hosted the finals of the 1991 92 FIBA European Championship and Eurobasket 2001. Several other indoor arenas, including the Be ikta Milangaz Arena (which opened in 2004), have also been inaugurated since 2000, serving as the home courts of Istanbul's sports clubs. The most recent of these is the 13,800-seat lker Sports Arena, which opened in 2012 as the home court of Fenerbah e's basketball teams.

Istanbul Park hosted the Turkish Grand Prix each year between 2005 and 2011.

Despite the construction boom, Istanbul's four consecutive bids for the Summer Olympics in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 have all ended unsuccessfully. The National Olympic Committee of Turkey opted to forgo a bid for the 2016 Games to concentrate on a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.[171] The International Olympic Committee selected Istanbul as a Candidate City to host city of the 2020 Olympics in May 2012[172]. The IOC will vote to elect the host city in September 2013.

Since opening in 2005, Istanbul Park has hosted the annual Turkish Grand Prix. The track was a stop on the World Touring Car Championship circuit and the European Le Mans Series in 2005 and 2006, but the track has not seen either of those competitions since then. The future of Istanbul Park remains uncertain, as financial issues caused the track to be dropped from the Turkish Grand Prix in 2012. Istanbul was also an occasional stop on the F1 Powerboat World Championship circuit, with the Championship's last appearance in the Bosphorus being in 2000.

Established in 1952, Istanbul Sailing Club ( stanbul Yelken Kul b , YK) is the primary organizer of Olympic class national and international sailing races in Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara;[173] while yacht races are organized by the Open Seas Racing Club of Turkey (T rkiye A kdeniz Yar Kul b , TAYK)[174] and by the Turkish Navy which organizes the annual Navy Cup Open Seas Yacht Race (Deniz Kuvvetleri Kupas A k Deniz Yat Yar .) Personal, non-competitive yachting and sailing are also common on the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, while rowing races periodically occur on the Golden Horn between the teams of the leading universities (including the Bo azi i University, Ko University and Kadir Has University)[175] and sports clubs in the city, namely Galatasaray, Fenerbah e, and Be ikta . The airspace above the Golden Horn also hosted legs of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2006 and 2007.


Established in 1948, H rriyet is one of Turkey's most circulated newspapers While most state-run radio and television stations are based in Ankara, Istanbul with nearly one fifth of the country's population is the primary hub of Turkish media. The history of the Turkish media industry finds its roots in the former Ottoman capital, where the first Turkish newspaper,Takvim-i Vekayi (Calendar of Affairs), was established in 1831. The Ca alo lu street on which the newspaper was printed, B b- li Street, rapidly became the center of Turkish print media, alongside Beyo lu across the Golden Horn.[176]

Today, Istanbul hosts a wide variety of periodicals. Most nationwide newspapers are based in Istanbul, with simultaneous Ankara and zmir editions.[177] Istanbul-based Zaman, although only founded in 1986, is Turkey's most widely circulated paper, with a weekly distribution of more than one million. Posta, H rriyet, Sabah, and Habert rk, which round out the country's top five papers, are all headquartered in Istanbul, boasting more than 200,000 weekly sales each. H rriyets English-language edition, The H rriyet Daily News, has been printed since 1961, but Today's Zaman, first published by Zaman in 2007, has overtaken it in circulation. Several smaller newspapers, including well-regarding publications like Milliyet and Cumhuriyet, are also based in Istanbul, with weekly circulations less than 100,000, are also based in the city.[177][178] Headquarters of the state-run TRT's Istanbul radio operations Radio broadcasts in Istanbul date back to 1927, when Turkey's first radio transmission came from atop the Central Post Office in Emin n . Control of this transmission, and other radio stations established in the following decades, ultimately came under the control of the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT). Born out of the Turkish Constitution of 1961, the TRT held a monopoly on radio and television broadcasts between its founding in 1964 until 1990.[179] Today, the TRT runs four national radio stations; while these stations have transmitters across the country so each can reach over ninety percent of the country's population, only one is based in Istanbul. Offering a range of content from educational programming to coverage of sporting events, is the most popular radio station in Turkey.[179][180] Istanbul's airwaves are the busiest in Turkey, primarily featuring either Turkish-language or English-language content. One of the rare exceptions, offering both, is A k Radyo (94.9 FM). Among Turkey's first private stations, and the first featuring foreign popular music, was Istanbul's Metro FM (97.2 FM). The state-run , although based in Ankara, also features English-language popular music, while English-language news programming is provided on NTV Radyo (102.8 FM).[181] With the exception of TRT-Children (based in Istanbul), TRT's television stations are all based in Ankara.[182] Regardless, Istanbul is home to the headquarters of a number of Turkish stations and regional headquarters of international media outlets. Istanbul-based Star TV was the first private television network to be established following the end of the TRT monopoly, and it, alongside Show TV (also based in Istanbul), remain highly popular throughout the country, airing Turkish and American series.[183] Samanyolu TV, Kanal D, andATV are other stations in Istanbul that offer a mix of news and series, while NTV (partnered with U.S. media outlet MSNBC) and Sky Turk both based in the city are mainly just known for their news coverage in Turkish. The BBC has a regional office in Istanbul, assisting its Turkish-language news operations, while American news channel CNN established the Turkish-language CNN T rk there in 1999.[184] CNBC and NTV have collaborated since 2000 to provide CNBC-e, a station showing Turkish and English series, from the city. Other Turkish versions of U.S. networks, including Fox T rkiye and MTV T rkiye, have their headquarters in Istanbul.


Main entrance gate of Istanbul University, the city's oldest Turkish university

Istanbul has some of the finest institutions of higher education in Turkey, including more than thirty-five universities. Most of the reputable universities are public, but, in recent years, there has been an upsurge in the number of private universities, with more than a dozen founded since 2006.

Istanbul University, founded as an Islamic school in 1453, is the oldest Turkish educational institution in the city,[185] while Istanbul Technical University (founded in 1773) is the world's third-oldest university dedicated entirely to engineering sciences.[186] These public universities are two of just eight across the city; other prominent state universities in Istanbul include Bo azi i University, Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, and Marmara University.[187] Istanbul Medeniyet University, founded in 2010,[188] is the newest public university. Private universities have a very short history, going back to just the early 1990s, with the establishment of Istanbul Commerce University, Kadir Has University, and Ko University;[189] today, there are at least thirty private universities in the city.[190]

In 2007, there were about 4,350 schools, about half of which were primary; on average, each school had 688 students. In recent years, Istanbul's educational system has expanded substantially; from 2000 to 2007, the number of classrooms and teachers nearly doubled and the number of students increased by more than sixty percent.[191]

Robert College is the oldest American school outside the United States.

Galatasaray High School, established in 1481 as the Galata Palace Imperial School, is the oldest high school in Istanbul and the second-oldest educational institution in the city. It was built at the behest of Sultan Bayezid II, who sought to bring students with diverse backgrounds together as a means of further strengthening his growing empire.[192] It is one of Turkey's eighty-three Anatolian High Schools, elite public high schools that admit students based on examination. As they were originally furnished for Turkish children who returned home from foreign countries, they place a stronger emphasis on instruction in foreign languages. Galatasaray, for example, offers instruction in French, while other Anatolian High Schools primarily teach in English or German alongside Turkish.[193] The city also has many foreign high schools, such as Liceo Italiano and Robert College, that were established in the 19th century to educate foreigners.

A few of Istanbul's other high schools are notable for their styles of teaching or entrance requirements. Kuleli Military High School, located along the shores of the Bosphorus in engelk y, and Turkish Naval High School, located on one of the Princes' Islands, are military high schools, complemented by three military academies the Turkish Air Force, Turkish Military, and Turkish Naval Academies. Another important school in Turkey is Dar afaka High School, which provides free education to children across the country without fathers. Dar afaka begins instruction with the fourth grade, providing instruction in English and, starting in sixth grade, a second foreign language German or French.[194][195] Other prominent high schools in Istanbul include Kabata Erkek Lisesi (founded in 1908)[196] and Kad k y Anadolu Lisesi (founded in 1955).[197]

Public services

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is the largest of several hundred cisterns that lie beneath Istanbul. Istanbul's first water supply systems date back to the city's early history, during the Byzantine era. The two greatest aqueducts from the Roman period are the Mazulkemer Aqueduct and the Valens Aqueduct. These were built to channel water from the Halkal area at the western edge of the city to the Beyaz t district in the city center, which was then known as the Forum Tauri.[198] After reaching the city center, the water was collected in the city's numerous cisterns, including the Cistern of Philoxenos and the Basilica Cistern. In the mid-16th century, Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned Mimar Sinan, his chief architect and engineer, to improve the water infrastructure of the city. This resulted in the K rk e me water supply network, which, by 1563, provided of water to each day.[198] In later years, with the aim of responding to the ever-increasing public demand, water from various springs was channeled to public fountains, like the Fountain of Ahmed III, by means of supply lines.[199] Today, Istanbul has a chlorinated and filtered water supply and a sewage treatment system managed by the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration ( SK ).[200]

The Silahtara a Power Station, in operation between 1914 and 1983, has been transformed into SantralIstanbul, a fine arts gallery and cultural center.

The Silahtara a Power Station, a coal-fired power plant along the Golden Horn, was the sole source of Istanbul's electricity between 1914, when its first engine room was completed, and 1952.[201] Following the founding of the Republic, the plant underwent a number of renovations to accommodate the city's increasing demand; its capacity grew from in 1923 to a peak of in 1956.[201][202] Capacity had declined, to by the 1970s and in 1983, cooling water around the power station became insufficient to continue operation. As a result, the Silahtara a Power Station was forced to shut down.[203] After years of renovations, the plant was reopened in 2007 as SantralIstanbul, an arts and cultural center.[204] The state-run Turkish Electrical Authority (TEK) briefly between its founding in 1970 and 1984 held a monopoly on the generation and distribution of electricity, but now the authority since split between the Turkish Electricity Generation Transmission Company (TEA ) and the Turkish Electricity Distribution Company (TEDA ) competes with private electric utilities.[202]

Istanbul's current central post office dates back to 1909.[205]

The Ottoman Ministry of Post and Telegraph was established in 1840; the first post office, the Imperial Post Office, opened near the courtyard of Istanbul's Yeni Mosque. By 1876, the first international mailing network between Istanbul and the lands beyond the vast Ottoman Empire had been established. Money transfer and cargo services were added at the start of the 20th century, in 1901.[206] Samuel Morse received his first-ever patent for the telegraph in 1847, at the old Beylerbeyi Palace (the present Beylerbeyi Palace was built 1861 1865 on the same location). The patent was issued by Sultan Abd lmecid I, who, enthralled by innovation like his father, personally tested the new invention.[207][208] Construction of the first telegraph line between Istanbul and Edirne followed thereafter, with the project finished in time to announce the end of the Crimean War in 1856.[208] In the meantime, in 1855, the Directorate of the Telegraph was established.[206] A nascent telephone circuit emerged in Istanbul in 1881, as the Imperial Post Office was linked with a post office in Galata.[209] After the first manual telephone exchange became operational in Istanbul in 1909, the Ministry of Post and Telegraph became the Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone.[206] Of course, Istanbul's telephone infrastructure has developed substantially in the century since. GSM cellular networks arrived in Turkey in 1994, with Istanbul among the first cities to receive the service.[210] Today, mobile and landline service is provided by a number of private companies, after T rk Telekom, which split from the Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone in 1995, was privatized in 2005.[206][210] Postal services remain under the purview of what is now the Post and Telegraph Organization (retaining the initialism PTT).[206]

In 2000, Istanbul had , of which one hundred were private.[211] All Turkish citizens, as well as those paying government insurance, are entitled to subsidized healthcare in the nation's state-run hospitals. As public hospitals tend to be overcrowded or otherwise slow, private hospitals are preferable for those who can afford them and their prevalence has increased significantly over the last decade; the percentage of outpatients using private hospitals increased from to between 2005 and 2009.[212] Many of these private hospitals, as well as some of the public hospitals, are equipped with high-tech equipment, including MRI machines, or associated with medical research centers.[213] Turkey has more hospitals accredited by Joint Commission International than any other country in the world, with most concentrated in its big cities; the high quality of healthcare, especially in private hospitals, has contributed to a recent upsurge in medical tourism to Turkey (with a forty percent increase between just 2007 and 2008 alone).[214] Laser eye surgery is particularly common among medical tourists, as Turkey is known for specializing in the procedure.[215]


alt=A docked sailboat floats in front of a suspension bridge, under twilight. Istanbul's primary motorways are the , , , and . The O-1 forms Istanbul's inner ring road, extending from Bak rk y to Kad k y, across the Bosphorus Bridge. Its western terminus is the O-3, which continues west to Edirne, while its eastern terminus is the O-4, which continues east to Ankara. The O-2 forms Istanbul's outer ring road, crossing the Bosphorus on the Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Second Bosphorus) Bridge.[216] The O-2, O-3, and O-4 are coterminous with European route E-80 throughout their entire lengths, although the E-80 (also known as the Trans European Motorway) continues west to Portugal and east to the Turkish Iranian border.

The two Bosphorus Bridges form the only road connections between the Asian and European sides of Turkey, although a Third Bosphorus Bridge has been proposed due to the high volume of traffic both existing bridges experience; together, the two Bosphorus Bridges carry vehicles each year.[217] The O-2 is more commonly used for intercity and through traffic, while the O-1 is better suited for local traffic. The Golden Horn is, from north to south, spanned by the Hali Bridge (which carries the O-1), the Atat rk Bridge, and the Galata Bridge.[218] Istanbul is also traversed by a number of arterial avenues that do not follow an apparent systematic layout.[216]

Local travel

Istanbul's modern trams are a long way from the horse-drawn trams that debuted in 1872. Istanbul's local transportation system is a complex network of trams, funiculars, light-rail lines, metro lines, buses, bus rapid transit, and even ferries. Fares across modes are integrated, using the contactless Istanbulkart, introduced in 2009, or the older Akbil electronic ticket device.[219]

Trams date back to 1872, when they were horse-drawn, but Istanbul's original trams were decommissioned in the 1960s. Istanbul experimented with trolleybuses afterward, but they were also taken out of service, in 1984.[220] Operated by Istanbul Electricity, Tramway, and Tunnel (IETT), trams slowly returned to the city beginning in 1990, with the reopening of the route along stiklal Avenue.[220] Faster, more modern trams (the T1) were first put into service in 1992, and service across the Golden Horn was restored for the first time in in 2005. Today, Istanbul's modern tram line, which goes between Kabata and Ba c lar, has a daily ridership of .[221]

Commuter ferries have been operating on the Bosphorus since 1851.[222] The T nel (F2) opened in 1875 as the world's second-oldest subterranean rail line (after London's Metropolitan Railway); it still carries passengers between Karak y and Beyo lu along a steep track.[220][223] Another funicular, the Kabata -Taksim Funicular, is much newer, having recently entered service in 2006; this line (F1) links Taksim Square with the T1 terminus at Kabata .[224] The Istanbul LRT is a light rail system consisting of two lines the M1, which terminates at Atat rk International Airport,[225] and the T4. Both lines are completely segregated from other traffic and free from level crossings. The Istanbul Metro, first opened in 2000, currently has just one line the M2 contained northeast of the Golden Horn. However, construction of an extension across the Golden Horn, as well as of another line the M4 on the Asian side, is underway; the M4 is expected to open in 2012.[226][227] The two sides of Istanbul's metro will ultimately be connected under, the Bosphorus when the Marmaray tunnel, the first rail connection of any kind between Thrace and Anatolia, is completed in 2015.[228]

Until then, ferries compose the primary mode of public transportation between the European and Asian halves of the city. DO (Istanbul Seabuses) runs a combination of all-passenger ferries and car-and-passenger ferries to ports on both sides of the Bosphorus, as far north as the Black Sea.[229][230] With additional destinations around the Sea of Marmara, DO runs the largest municipal ferry operation in the world.[231] Buses also provide transportation between the two halves of Istanbul, and across shorter distances within each side, accommodating passenger-trips each day.[232] The Metrobus, a form of bus rapid transit, also traverses the Bosphorus Bridge, with dedicated lanes leading to its termini on either side; the Metrobus accounts for a third of all passenger-trips by bus.[233]

Intercity travel

As the only sea route between the oil-rich Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosphorus is one of the busiest waterways in the world; more than tonnes of oil pass through the strait each year, and the traffic on the Bosphorus is three times that on the Suez Canal.[234] As a result, proposals have been made to build a canal, known as Canal Istanbul, parallel to the Bosphorus, on the European side of the city.[235] The city's main cargo port, the Port of Haydarpa a, is Turkey's third-largest, with an annual cargo capacity of tonnes.[236] Cruise liners brought tourists to Istanbul in 2009, docking at ports in Karak y or Pend k.[130]

Haydarpa a Terminal]], which closed in 2012, once served as the terminus of rail service to Baghdad, Damascus and Medina.

International rail service from Istanbul launched in 1889, with a line between Bucharest and Istanbul's Sirkeci Terminal, which ultimately became famous as the eastern terminus of the Orient Express between Paris and Istanbul.[58] Regular service to Bucharest and Thessaloniki continued until the early 2010s, when the former was suspended and the latter was interrupted due to construction of the Marmaray tunnel.[237][238] After Istanbul's Haydarpa a Terminal opened in 1908, it served as the western terminus of the Baghdad Railway and an extension of the Hejaz Railway; today, neither service is offered directly from Istanbul.[239][240][241] Service to Ankara and other points across Turkey is normally offered by Turkish State Railways, but construction of Mamaray and the Istanbul-Ankara high-speed line forced the station to close in February 2012.[242] New stations to replace both the Haydarpa a and Sirkeci terminals, and connect the city's disjointed railway networks, are expected to open upon completion of the Marmaray project in 2015; until then, Istanbul is left without intercity rail service.[242]

Atat rk International Airport is the city's main airport; it served passengers in 2011.

Private bus companies operate routes along, but also well beyond, those offered by the rail network. Istanbul's main bus station is the largest in Europe, with a capacity of and each day.[243] Direct bus service is available to as far as Frankfurt, away.[244] Even prior to the closure of Haydarpa a, intercity travel by coach was the most popular mode of domestic travel.

Istanbul has two international airports, the larger of which is Atat rk International Airport. Atat rk International, located west of the city center, handled passengers in 2011; this ranks it the eighth-busiest airport in Europe and among the thirty busiest in the world.[245] Sabiha G k en International Airport opened on the Asian side of the city, east of the European city center, to relieve Atat rk International. Sabiha G k en is dominated by low-cost carriers, with destinations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Istanbul's second airport has rapidly become popular among travelers in the ten years since it opened, in 2001; the airport handled passengers in 2011, two years after a new international terminal opened, and was named the world's fastest growing airport by Airports Council International the same year.[246][247]

See also




External links


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