ISTANBUL

One of the Highlights of Turkey  ; İstanbul

The capital of empires… The city that dominated continents… The cradle of civilisation… The meeting point of cultures and civilisations… These are some of the thousands of phrases that describe İstanbul. Yet neither words nor any amount of reading or listening are sufficient to truly describe and become familiar with the city. Only when you walk along its historic streets, when you see with your own eyes the architectural masterpieces of Byzantine and Ottoman Empires in their original setting, when you enjoy the panoramic vistas of its unique location, and when you start to explore its mystical beauties – only then will you begin to discover, and to fall in love with İstanbul.İstanbul is the most developed and largest city of Turkey, and the latest discoveries indicate that the history of human habitation goes back

400,000 years ago. The Megarians settled and founded the city of Byzantium that later lent its name to the Byzantine Empire. However, the first settlers in the region established their city Chalcedon (Kadıköy), on ‘the land of blind people’ which was strategically less important. And the Megarians, led by an Oracle, became aware of the beauty of Seraglio Point (Sarayburnu), and they established their city there on the opposite side of the Chalcedon.

Today the historical peninsula is the most beautiful part of İstanbul, and is strategically well placed. The city is surrounded by a seascape peppered with distant islands, and this, together with the Golden Horn (Haliç), the estuary that thrusts into the land along the peninsula, make İstanbul a unique place – and, throughout its long history, a city that many desired to conquer. But the desire to possess the city cannot be explained only by its strategic position or unsurpassed beauty; it has a different attraction, a mystical magnetism that drew states, empires and great conquerors towards it. This attraction led to a long history of conflict, conquest and occupation between those determined to maintain their hold on the city and those who strove to capture it.

For more than 1,500 years İstanbul was the capital of two empires, first the Byzantine and later the Ottoman. It was beautified accordingly with magnificent monuments and became a metropolis where diverse cultures, nations and religions mingle. Those cultures, nations and religions are the small pieces that form the mosaic of İstanbul. Perhaps some of those little pieces do not mean much to you, but as an ensemble they make up the unique majesty of İstanbul.

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