The Istanbul Portal at www.istanbul.gov.tr is presented by Istanbul Governors Office, the highest state office of the province, and aims at being a public portal. The Governors Office of Istanbul is pleased to greet you from Istanbul.
There, the God and mankind, nature and art altogether have created such a magnificent place on earth that it is worth a visit, says Lamartine to describe the city encompassing two continents, Asia with one arm and Europe with the other.
With a population of 10 million, this is the most populated city of Turkish Republic, and is the center of exports and imports, entertainment, cultural activities, education, shopping, tourism and artistic activities across the entire country. Located in the heart of the Old World, Istanbul is an important and renowned megalopolis with its historical monuments and magnificent natural beauties. This is the only city stretching over two continents, Europe and Asia, where they face each other across a narrow body of water called Bosphorus or the Istanbul Straits. Founded over 2500 years ago, it soon became an important commercial center owing to its strategic location where lands and seas meet.
The seas and lands divide the geography into four. On both flanks of the Golden Horn are the historical peninsula of Istanbul and Galata while on both flanks of the Bosphorus are the exvillages, which have now joined the grand city. The settlements along the shores of the Sea of Marmara the smallest sea in the world bear witness to the present day size of the city.
The historical city of Istanbul lies on a triangular shaped peninsula surrounded by the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. It was the capital city of three world-empires: Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman; and over 120 emperors and sultans ruled from here through a period of more than 1600 years. Istanbul is the only city in the world with such a quality.
The city of Istanbul is encircled with fortifications built in the 5th century CE and stretches over 7 hills, each of which was crowned with a sultans mosque, adorned with Turkish monuments. The skyline of the city is bewildering, bewitching and peaceful from every angle. The Golden Horn is the best protected natural harbor in the world and had a key role in the development of the city. Its location at the junction of main routes, controlling the strategic Bosphorus straits, a peninsula with a perfect setting for defense, ideal climate, rich and bountiful nature are to the advantage of Istanbul.
As the city became the capital city for empires, it also became an administrative center of religions: the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate has been established here from the very beginning and the first gigantic churches and monasteries rose here in the places of pagan temples. In the first century following the Turkish conquest, the city was adorned with mosques, palaces, schools, hammams (Turkish baths) and other facilities, hence acquiring a Turkish character, and some of the old churches then dilapidated were restored and transformed into mosques. Istanbul has always been a center of tolerance, where the mosques, churches and synagogues have existed side by side.
A popular venue for travelers of all times, Istanbul has proceeded ahead in improving its maritime facilities with its marinas, harbors, and aerial facilities with the enlarged international airport and a second one on the Asian side. The two suspension bridges- the Mehmet the Conqueror and the Bosphorus- joining the two flanks of the Bosphorus are the main arteries for the citizens commuting from one side to the other. The best places to view the Bosphorus from above is either as you drive across or from the Hill. The suspension bridges, especially the Bosphorus Bridge, present a very mesmerizing scene at night even for the locals.
Under the shadow of the Roman, Byzantine and Turkish historical monuments deliberately preserved the city has a very vivid and colorful daily life, and is becoming more colorful with the rich social, cultural and commercial activities. Besides the restaurants serving a rich variety of Turkish cuisine it is now possible to dine at restaurants serving Asian or other cuisines. Latest movies meet the spectators at the same time with the rest of the world in the most comfortable movie theaters. World famous pop singers attract thousands to the stadiums while opera, ballet and theatre performances continue all the year round, and seasonal festivals host orchestras, choruses, jazz groups alongside musical, folkloric and theatrical performances are all sold out. These are hosted at modern auditoriums such as Ataturk Cultural Center, Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall, Open Air Theater and modern theaters alongside the historical sites such as Aya Irini, Rumeli Fortress, Yedikule Fortress, Topkapi Palace courtyard, and Gulhane Park. Covered fair grounds in the world standards are amongst the most frequently visited sites thanks to their continuous activities. Hectic tourism in the spring, summer and fall times is followed by slower paced winters now fashionable with shopping fests and cultural tours supported by sales in big shopping centers.
The heart of the Turkish press beats in Istanbul. Now the newspaper printing houses and new university campuses built as large complexes moved out of the city center. The universities, state and private hospitals have attained high international standards and serve the international demand.