It can be said that the most famous city in Turkey is Istanbul. All of us have heard its name many times since childhood as a commercial and busy city. In this article, we are going to introduce you to this busy and exciting city.
Istanbul is the largest city in Türkiye and is among the 15 largest cities in the world. Istanbul is famous in Europe and Asia because of its size. This city is the only metropolis in the world that is located on more than one continent.
The city of Istanbul is geographically very important because it has a long history that includes the rise and fall of the world’s most famous empires. This city has also undergone various changes due to its presence in these empires.
History of the City of Istanbul Throughout history
Although Istanbul may have been inhabited as early as 3000 BC, it was not a city until Greek colonists arrived in the area in the 7th century BC. The colonists were led by King Byzas and settled there because of its strategic location along the Bosphorus. King Bezas named this city Byzantium after himself.
Roman Empire (330–395)
Byzantium became part of the Roman Empire in the 300s. During this time, the Roman emperor, Constantine the Great, undertook the reconstruction of the entire city. His goal was to highlight it and make the city’s monuments similar to those found in Rome. In 330, Constantine declared this city the capital of the entire Roman Empire and changed its name to Constantinople. As a result, Istanbul grew and prospered.
Byzantine Empire (Eastern Rome) (1204-395 and 1453-1261)
However, after the death of Emperor Theodosius I in 395, great upheaval occurred in the empire as his sons permanently divided it.
Republic of Türkiye (1923–present)
After World War I, the Turkish War of Independence took place and Istanbul became part of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Istanbul was not the capital of the new republic and was ignored in the early years of its formation. But in the 1940s and 1950s, Istanbul re-emerged. New public squares, boulevards, and streets were built and many historical buildings of the city were demolished.
In the 1970s, Istanbul’s population grew rapidly, causing the city to expand into nearby villages and forests, eventually creating a large global metropolis.
Many historical areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. Furthermore, due to its position as a rising global power, its history, and its importance to culture in Europe and the world, Istanbul was designated as the capital of Europe.
Istanbul on the map of Türkiye
As you have read so far, Istanbul has been the court of many kings since ancient times. This city is located in an important area due to its strategic and commercial location. There are several important water channels in this city, which include the communication highway between Asia and Europe.
Istanbul is located in the west of Türkiye. This city, which was known as Constantinople in ancient times, was the industrial center of ancient Turkey. With Turkey’s greater dependence on automation, this city has made significant progress in the past hundred years. The city of Istanbul consists of two regions, European and Asian.
Many Iranians choose this city every year for traveling or living. One of the reasons for this choice is obtaining Turkish citizenship, which you can obtain in different ways. One of these methods is by buying a property in Turkey worth 400 thousand dollars.
Istanbul on the map of Türkiye
Now that you have come this far, seeing Istanbul on the map is not without pleasure. As you can see on the map, Istanbul is a metropolis surrounded by the sea. The sea is one of the biggest communication routes from Asia to Europe.
Travel to Istanbul
You will not have any restrictions to travel from Istanbul to any country. Every day there are several flights from all capitals to Istanbul and sabiha gokcen airport.
Istanbul has several airports, Sabiha Gökçen Airport is the second largest international airport. You can contact our colleagues for help in booking tickets.
Sightseeing places in Istanbul
The city (officially renamed Istanbul after the establishment of the Republic of Turkey) is liberally known for the magnificent remnants of its long and illustrious history, and its tourist attractions impress anyone.
Hagia Sophia Mosque
When the Byzantine Emperor Justinian first entered his finished church in 536 AD, he is said to have exclaimed, “God, I am chosen for such a work. Solomon, I have surpassed you!”
After the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman army, until it was mostly turned into a museum in the 20th century and turned into a functioning mosque again in 2020, the Hagia Sophia remains one of the most valuable sights in Istanbul.
Explore Topkapı Sarayı
This magnificent palace next to the Bosphorus was first built by Muhammad the Conqueror in the 15th century and was the place where the sultans of the Ottoman Empire lived and ruled.
The vast complex is a stunning display of Islamic art, with lavish courtyards decorated with intricate hand-painted tiling and connecting lavishly decorated rooms, all bounded by ornate walls and towers.
Of the many highlights here, the most popular is the harem complex (where many of the Sultan’s concubines and children spend their days). Second Court, where you can walk through the kitchens of the Grand Palace and stand in awe of the stunning interior of the Imperial Council Chamber. and the third court, which included the Sultan’s personal rooms.
The Third Court also displays an impressive collection of relics of the Prophet of Islam in the Holy Guard Room and is home to the Imperial Treasury, where your eyes are mesmerized by a storehouse of glittering gold objects and precious jewels.
You need at least half a day to see Topkapi Palace completely.
Visiting the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Kami)
Sultan Ahmed I’s great architectural gift to his capital was this beautiful mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque today.
Built between 1609 and 1616, this mosque caused an uproar throughout the Muslim world when it was completed because it had six minarets (the same number as the Great Mosque of Mecca). The seventh minaret was finally gifted to Mecca.
This mosque got its nickname from the interior decoration of tens of thousands of Iznik tiles. All the spatial and color effects of the interior have made the mosque one of the best achievements of Ottoman architecture.
The joy of sightseeing on a trip to Istanbul is to wander through the gardens that lie between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia to experience their twin domes in their twin glory. Come in the evening to have more space, because the call to prayer will be heard.
Right behind the Blue Mosque is the Arasta Market. A great place to stop for shopping as the craft shops here sell quality souvenirs.
Even if you’re not into shopping, head here to see the Grand Palace Mosaic Museum, located between Arasta Bazaar and the Mosque.
This small museum displays a 250 square-meter piece of mosaic pavement that was discovered here in the 1950s.
Go underground in the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıçı).
The Basilica Cistern is one of the most amazing tourist attractions in Istanbul. This massive, palace-like underground hall, supported by 336 columns in 12 rows, was once the imperial water source of the Byzantine emperors.
The project was started by Constantine the Great but ended by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. Many of the columns used in the construction are recycled from earlier classical structures and have decorative carvings.
The most famous of them is the base of the columns known as the Medusa Stones in the northwest corner with carvings of Medusa’s head. It is very nice to visit here and the pillars are beautifully lit and smooth and steady water flows around.
Walk in the Hippodrome (Sultan Ahmad Square).
The ancient Hippodrome was begun by Septimius Severus in 203 AD and completed by Constantine the Great in 330 AD. It was the center of Byzantine public life and the scene of magnificent games and chariot races, as well as factional conflicts.
Today there is not much left of the Hippodrome to see, except for a small part of the gallery walls on the south side, but At Meydanı (the park) is home to a variety of monuments.
On the northwest side is a fountain that was presented to the Ottoman Sultan by the German Emperor William II in 1898.
Three antiquities then go to the southwest: an Egyptian obelisk 20 meters high (from Heliopolis). The serpent column was brought here by Constantine from Delphi. and a stone obelisk originally clad in gold-plated bronze until stolen by soldiers of the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
Shopping in the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Çarşı)
For many visitors, exploring Istanbul’s old bazaars is as fascinating as the museums and attractions, and the Grand Bazaar is where everyone comes. This large covered bazaar is essentially the world’s first shopping center that spans an entire city block and is surrounded by thick walls between the Norosmaniye Mosque and the Beyazit Mosque.
Entry to the bazaar is through one of 11 gates, from where a maze of archways line the area with shops and stalls selling every Turkish souvenir and handicraft you can imagine.
Sulaymaniyah Mosque, Istanbul
The Suleymaniye Mosque, located on top of the hill above the Sultanahmet district, is one of the most famous buildings in Istanbul.
It was built for Sultan Suleiman I (commonly known as Suleiman the Magnificent; reigned 1566–1520) by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan, who is responsible for many Ottoman-era monuments in Turkey, including the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne.
The interior of Sulaymaniyah Mosque, dominated by its soaring 53-meter dome, is remarkable for its harmonious proportions and unity of design.
Outside the grounds of the Serene Garden is an interesting Ottoman-era cemetery, which also houses the graves of Sultan Suleiman and his wife Haseki Hürrem Sultan (often known outside of Turkey as Roxelana).
Dolma Baghche Palace in Istanbul
The luxurious and ornate Dolma Baghche Palace shows the obvious influence of European decoration and architecture on the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Built by Sultan Abdul Majid I in 1854, this palace replaced Topkapi Palace as the main residence of the Sultans.
Dolma Baghçe Palace was also used as an official residence during the founding years of the Republic of Turkey, and Atatürk (the founder of modern Turkey) died here in 1938.
The interior combines Rococo, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Ottoman elements with mammoth crystal chandeliers, liberal use of gold, French-style furnishings, and painted ceilings to create a stunning Turkish Renaissance style of grandeur.
Different aspects of Istanbul
Beyoglu district is also often called Pera. Here, the influence of people from different cultural backgrounds is still prevalent. Therefore, Beyoglu is not only the business center of Istanbul but also the city’s center for art and entertainment. With neighborhoods like Taksim Square, Galatasaray, Tunnel, or Tarlabasi, it also has the busiest nightlife in Istanbul.
The Asian side is the quieter corner of Istanbul. This city was first known as Chalcedon and forms one of the largest areas of the city. Although Kadiköy is the first stop for most people coming to Istanbul, the Asian side is famous for its historic bazaar.
On the other hand, the Princes Islands are ideal for a weekend getaway. Take a ferry to Kinaliada, Heybeliada, or Büyükada on a sunny day. All three islands are famous for their monasteries and churches that are open to visitors. Most visitors explore the islands by bicycle, which can be rented for a few lire.
This historic peninsula is known for its many museums and monuments. Constantine chose this part of the city as his capital and left behind many architectural and cultural treasures.
Quality of Life in Istanbul
For foreigners looking for cheap and permanent living in a Mediterranean country, living in Turkey and the city of Istanbul has a lot to offer. The same features that attract tourists to Turkey are also attractive to expats looking to settle in Istanbul.
Turkey’s ancient monuments, diverse culture, beautiful beaches, and coastlines are loved by both tourists and residents of this country and the city of Istanbul. The easy visa application process, good transportation system, high standard of medical treatment, and reasonable cost of living are all reasons why Turkey and the city of Istanbul are attractive to visitors.
Moved to Istanbul
When you think of Istanbul, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Turkish markets and historic buildings like Hagia Sophia. In fact, Istanbul is not only the cultural center of Türkiye. The city also has an impressive heritage.
In ancient times, many people moved to the predecessors of Istanbul, then known as Byzantium, later known as Constantinople or Byzantium. This city was the capital of three successive empires and witnessed the influx of various ethnic groups. They came as colonizers, settlers, traders, conquerors, or immigrant minorities, but they all left their mark.
Today, Istanbul is not only the largest city in Turkey, but people who come to Turkey will experience a dynamic culture, a modern society, and a dynamic economy.
Two continents, one city
Have you noticed how the Bosphorus bisects the city? Istanbul is located in Europe and Asia at the same time, giving people moving to Istanbul the chance to be on two continents at the same time. Its location has made it a bridge between East and West.
The Bosphorus Strait has always been an important passage. This strait connects the Black Sea in the north to the Sea of Marmara in the south. In this way, the economic importance of Istanbul has increased. Moving to Istanbul takes you to a place where the defining characteristics of the two continents come together, with a wealth of historical sites, beautiful landscapes, and water features.
Step 1: Your work permit
If you are going to Istanbul for business reasons, you must first have a work permit, work visa, and residence permit. The first step is to find the Turkish embassy or consulate in your country. There you have to apply for a work permit and then for a work visa in this order.
We have talked about the work permit in Turkey and its details in previous articles.
Do people in Istanbul speak English?
Anyone over the age of 20 probably knows some English because Istanbul’s public school system has been providing elementary education in English for the past 20 years (we’ve talked about studying in Turkey in previous articles).
The most prominent universities in Turkey also have English as their main language of instruction, so if you plan to study in Istanbul, it won’t be too difficult.
While only 17% of the population can communicate in English, these numbers don’t really reflect what many ex-pats face when living in Turkey. For international visitors, Turkey ranks sixth in the world.
English is often spoken and you may hear it spoken by foreigners living in big cities like Istanbul, Izmir, or Ankara, as well as in any touristy beach town.
Top 5 shopping malls in Istanbul
As of May 2020, there are 411 shopping malls in Istanbul. We have listed the top 5 shopping malls in Istanbul below according to the frequently asked questions of visitors who want to shop in Istanbul. Most shopping malls in Istanbul are easily accessible by metro or public transport, are child-friendly, and are not far from tourist areas such as Sultanahmet or Taksim (except Istanbul Mall).
You will find a good selection of local and quality Turkish brands, theme parks, large food halls with local tastes, aquariums, large theaters where you can see Broadway musicals, and much more in these top 5 shopping malls.
Mall of Istanbul
Mall of Istanbul is one of the best shopping centers in Istanbul and hosts world-renowned brands, which has attracted attention as the most practical shopping center in Istanbul with its concept and different units. There is a big theme park in this mall. This can be one of the best things to do for kids in Istanbul.
How to go to the mall in Istanbul?
A taxi to Istanbul Mall will cost around 90 to 120 Turkish lira (depending on the traffic) from Taksim Square. You can also use the metro to access the shopping center. You need to go from Taksim to Yenikapi metro line M1 to Autogar station. There you need to change to Bagcilar/Kirazlı line. When you reach Kirazli station, you need to change another line to the Başakşehir metro and get off at İkitelli Sanayi station. There are free mall shuttles at the station that take you to the mall.
Istiniyeh Park Shopping Center
Suppose it is one of the most expensive shopping centers in Istanbul. If you are looking for Louis Vuitton or Tiffany jewelry, this is your shopping center. It is located in the Sariyer area and has given a new dimension to the concept of shopping in Istanbul.
This mall with an area of 242,000 square meters offers a variety of green and open central parks, a fashion district, street-side shopping, 1500 square meters of children’s entertainment center, hillside sports, and recreation club.
Zorlo shopping center
Zurlu Mall is the new meeting place in Istanbul. This commercial complex has luxury brands, a center for performing arts, a 5-star hotel, offices, and residences. The mall has a performance center where you can watch famous musicians and Broadway musicals.
Istanbul Cevahir Shopping Center
Cevahir Mall was the largest mall in Istanbul and Europe and the second-largest mall in the world until the Mall of Istanbul took the title. Cevahir shopping center is located on the European side of Istanbul in Sisli. You can easily reach Cevahir Shopping Center in Istanbul by public transport from almost anywhere in the city. Visitors arriving by metro can enter the mall directly from the station.
Istanbul Forum shopping center
Istanbul Forum Shopping Center is the largest shopping center in Istanbul and one of the best shopping centers in Europe. It is easily accessible from the subway and the famous Sea Life Aquarium is located there.
There are other large and central shopping malls in Istanbul that are not among the top 5 shopping malls in the Istanbul list. But they are worth seeing.
- Akmerkez shopping center
- Marmara Forum shopping center
- Kanyon Mall
- Olivium Outlet Mall
- Nisantasi shopping center
- Viaport Outlet shopping center
- Historia shopping center (very close to the Sultan Ahmed area)
There are only a few shopping centers in Istanbul.
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