Istanbul is one of the most famous cities in the world; it is the only city in the world to be located on two continents at the same time. It has been the capital of multiple empires that have shaped the world for over a thousand years.
Despite not being the capital of the country of Turkey, Istanbul is the cultural, historical, and economic capital of the country.
In this article, we are going to be listing a number of facts and pieces of information that will help you figure out what to do on your interesting trip to the city of Istanbul, Turkey.
History of Istanbul.
The first human settlements in the location of what is Istanbul date back to over 8500 years, however, the first major town in the area was the Greek city of Byzantium, with the name Byzantium deriving from that of a King who was a leader of Greek colonists in that region of Thrace and Anatolia.
The city gained massive importance in the known world when the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great was looking for the creation of a new Christian City. He chose Byzantium and named the city Nova Roma, although it quickly became known as Constantinople after the emperor gave the city its prominence.
Eventually, after the Roman Empire was split between west and east, Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire which ruled over much of the Middle East and the Balkans for over one thousand years from 330 AD to 1453 AD. Throughout its later years, the Eastern Roman Empire was known as the Byzantium Empire.
The city fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 AD and has been part of the Turkish nation ever since despite numerous attempts to retake the cities by Christian crusaders multiple times. Throughout the city’s history, Istanbul was the most populous city in the world.
Although today the city is known as Istanbul, this name was only adopted in the year 1930, although Istanbul was the unofficial name it was still officially called Constantinople as it was a much better-known name internationally.
Geography of Istanbul.
Geography is really the greatest strength; Istanbul is the only city to be located on two continents at the same time. In fact, the city is split in two by what is known as the Bosphorus, or the Strait of Istanbul. This is a naturally occurring strait that connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
Therefore, control of Istanbul which is based on both sides of the strait literally hugging it is very lucrative with tens of thousands of shipping tankers passing through it every year, for example, it is the most efficient and fastest way to transport goods to multiple countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia.
Due to this importance to the economy in the region, there is an international treaty that guarantees that Istanbul is not able to stop free movement in the strait.
Popular Sports in Istanbul.
The city is home to many different professional sports clubs that compete in a variety of sports and attract millions of fans from all around the world every single year.
The oldest and best known of which is a sports club called Besiktas JK, which was founded in 1903 and for some time was the only sports club in Turkey leading it to become somewhat of a national sports club in its early years which is why the Turkish emblem is part of the club’s logo.
Besiktas is best known for its football team that is one of Turkey’s most successful; however, it is also home to many other sports teams including a basketball team, a volleyball team, and even a chess team.
In fact, there are so many football teams located in the city of Istanbul that from 1904 to 1954 the city had its own football division called the Istanbul Football League. The two other biggest clubs in Turkey also happen to be based in Istanbul, they are Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.
Home to the Hagia Sophia.
During your interesting trip to the city of Istanbul, Turkey you simply must visit the Hagia Sophia which is one of the wonders of the world. The building was originally built in 537 AD as a Church by emperor Justinian I of the Roman Empire and was the official Church of the Eastern Roman Empire for many centuries.
It was a great example of architectural and technological innovation, with the Hagia Sophia being the first building in the world to have a spherical dome over a square base.
Following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the Hagia Sophia was converted from a Greek Orthodox Church to a Mosque by the Muslim Ottoman Sultans.
This period saw further additions to the Hagia Sophia, which included four large minarets which are around 80 meters in height each, and also other renovations inside such as a minibar which is where the imam preaches from. Every single year, close to 4 million people visit the Hagia Sophia to witness the beauty of this cultural and religious monument.
Istanbul Is the Closest Thing to Cat Heaven.
In Turkey, cats are the most popular pets due to it being seen as sinful to have dogs in your house according to the Quran, which is the Muslim Holy book.
Millions of cats are looked after as pets at home in the city, but there is also an estimated 125,000 street cats that are able to survive thanks to the kindness of strangers that feed them out of their goodwill and are vaccinated by non-profit organizations.
According to local folklore, street cats first became popular in Istanbul during the Middle Ages as they helped the city recover from the Black Death by hunting the rats that were spreading them.
In fact, there are vending machines located all around Istanbul where you are able to buy cat food and there are even vending machines that take in plastic and paper for recycling and dispense cat food. This is a little quirk that can only be experienced in this city.
Mosques of Istanbul.
We have already spoken about the Hagia Sophia; however, there are many other mosques in this great city of Istanbul, which is also the largest Muslim-majority city in Europe.
There is actually a bigger mosque than the Hagia Sophia located in Istanbul, this mosque is called the Camlica Mosque, which was opened in March 2019 and is the biggest mosque in Turkey with the ability to hold a total of 63,000 worshippers at the same time.
The Camlica Mosque is a sight to behold without a doubt; the building is highlighted by its 70 domes.
Moreover, there is the Sakirin Mosque which is well known for its iconic modernistic design, the mosque was completed in 2009 and is known as the most eco-friendly mosque in all of Turkey.
Another major historical mosque worth exploring is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque that was built during the Ottoman Empire in 1616 with the mosque being the burial place of Sultan Ahmed I.
State of the Art Transport.
Your interesting trip to the city of Istanbul, Turkey will without a doubt be a seamless experience thanks to the great transportation options that are located within the borders of the city of Istanbul.
The city’s tradition of excellence in transportation dates back to 1875 when the second-oldest underground railway service was opened in Istanbul with the oldest underground railway system is located in London.
Today there are a total of eleven metro lines on both sides of Istanbul; there is also the Marmaray Tunnel that is an underwater tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait that provides easy travel from either side of the city.
The Marmaray Tunnel is one of the deepest railway tunnels in the world which is another great feat of innovation. Moreover, there are a total of three international airports located in the city of Istanbul, which allow for competition and thus cheap prices for travelers arriving from all around the world.
Read the article: Interesting Trip To The Resort City Of Antalya, Turkey