There is not any city in the world on two continents except Istanbul. Meeting of Asia and Europe in Istanbul is not just something about geography but also it is about culture, politics and economy. 

Since the dawn of the history humankind were around. Some Old Stone Age caves were found long ago in the outer town on Asian and European sides of Istanbul. Thanks to the Marmaray diggings -undersea railway tunnel between Asia and Europe- a Neolithic settlement were excavated in the old harbor area of the city.

According to local myth, Byzas came from Megara in Greece and settled across the ‘Blind People’s Town’ therefore, through ancient time the town was called Byzantium: The city of Byzas.

It became capital of the Roman Empire in 324 A.D. Today we usually know it as Byzantine Empire, thanks to history education in Europe after 19th century. Constantine was hailed as Emperor first in Britain by his legions and finally he made his way to Istanbul and decided this town as the capital of his Empire instead of useless Rome. Then Byzantium was called Constantinopolis. It was held by Roman Emperors (at least they called themselves this way) until 1453. Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II conquered it and until 1922, it became the capital of Ottoman Empire. Last emperor Mehmet VI left the city on a British warship and moved to Britain to exile.

Modern ıstanbul

Since then Istanbul is not the capital but today it is still the biggest town, the most important economical, financial, political and cultural center of Turkey and this part of world.

It is in between two seas: The Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. There is a beautiful water passage between the two: The Bosporus. One can take a pleasant cruise on Bosporus to see its beautiful nature as well as castles, palaces and seaside mansion houses that are the residents of Turkish tycoons. Seagulls will chase your boat all the way. You must have some bread for them!

The Roman defense wall of the old town is still visible today. The beautiful monuments are ready for sightseers in the heart of the old town.

The Saint Sophia is the most important building in Istanbul, Turkey and the world. The Blue Mosque across to it is the most elegant mosque in Istanbul. The Topkapi Palace was the centre of a world empire once. Cistern Basilica is an underground beauty of Istanbul and Chora is for those who would like to see Byzantine mosaic and fresco arts. The Archeological Museums have artifacts from a great variety of time from Istanbul, Turkey and other old provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The Eyup Mosque and Tomb offers a real Muslim authenticity in a big metropolis.

Istanbul has Alevi sect’s praying houses and Bektasi, Mevlevi (whirling dervishes) and other Muslim orders’ ceremony houses as well. They are all interesting -if time permit to see- with different praying styles of all those different Muslim paths.

Istanbul has a lot to offer about today’s Christian and Jewish minorities’ temples as well. The seat of Greek Orthodox Patriarch is in Fener district of Istanbul. He has the ecclesiastical authority over the Greek orthodox population from Australia, New Zealand to North America. The Armenian Gregorian Patriarchate is in Kumkapi district of Istanbul. Gregory the Illuminator converted the Armenians into Christian faith in 312 A.D. It is widely believed that they are the earliest people who adopted Christianity. Istanbul has an Assyrian Christian community as well. They pray in a dialect of the language of Jesus. Several Protestant and Catholic churches are easy to visit too. The most famous Catholic church is St Anthony in Istiklal Street. Most of the people you will see in it are actually Muslim Turks: They either lit a candle and have a wish or just want to know ‘what a church is’.

When you are in Istiklal Street, you can stroll there among many bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops: Every type, every taste. Fish market and Nevizade is specially to take care of.

If you feel tired of historical and religious sites and streets full of people, Istanbul can offer you a real rest: A day trip to Princes Islands. You can have a walk under pine trees or a trip by a horse carriage or just sit in a restaurant on the water to have some local meze and a fish… Do not forget to raise your glass to the sea…

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