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Istanbul is Turkey's most populous city, and its cultural and financial center. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both physically and culturally. Istanbul's is the largest city in Turkey with a population estimated to be between 12 and 19 million people, making it also one of the largest in Europe and the world. Istanbul offers hot and humid summers and cold wet and snowy winters. During its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The historic areas of the city were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
The Hagia Sophia as it stands today,
with the minarets added by the Ottomans.
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople of the Western Crusader established Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture." It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.
View of Dolmabahçe Palace from the Bosphorus
Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, located on the European side of the Bosporus, served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922, apart from a 22-year interval (1887-1909) in which Yıldız Palace was used. The palace is composed of three parts; the Mabeyn-i Hümâyûn (or Selamlık, the quarters reserved for the men), Muayede Salonu (the ceremonial hall) and the Harem-i Hümâyûn (the Harem, the residential apartments of the family of the Sultan). The famous Crystal Staircase has the shape of a double horseshoe and is built of Baccarat crystal, brass and mahogany. The palace includes a large number of Hereke palace carpets made by the Hereke Imperial Factory. Also featured are 150-year-old bearskin rugs originally presented to the Sultan as a gift by the Tsar of Russia.
Maslak financial district in Istanbul
Photo: Kara Sabahat
The Topkapı Palace is a palace in Istanbul, Turkey, which was the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign. The palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments and is a major tourist attraction today, containing the most holy relics of the Muslim world such as the Prophet Muhammed's cloak and sword. Topkapı Palace is among those monuments belonging to the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, and is described in Criterion iv as "the best example[s] of ensembles of palaces [...] of the Ottoman period."
The Ottoman sultans ruled
from the Topkapı Palace for centuries.
Istanbul Archaeology Museums
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums is a group of three archeological museums located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey, near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums consists of three museums - the Archaeological Museum (in the main building), the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art (in the Tiled Kiosk). It houses over one million objects that represent almost all of the eras and civilizations in world history. The ornate Alexander Sarcophagus, once believed to be prepared for Alexander the Great, is among the most famous pieces of ancient art in the museum.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
is adjacent to the Topkapı Palace.
Photo: Giovanni Dall'Orto
Ortaköy Mosque in Beşiktaş, Istanbul, Turkey, is situated at the waterside of the Ortaköy pier square, one of the most popular locations on the Bosphorus. The original Ortaköy Mosque was built in the 18th century. The current mosque, which was erected in its place, was ordered by the Ottoman sultan Abdülmecid and built between 1854 and 1856. Its architects were Armenian father and son Garabet Amira Balyan and Nigoğayos Balyan (who also designed the nearby Dolmabahçe Palace), who designed it in Neo-Baroque style. Within the mosque hang several examples of Islamic calligraphy executed by the Sultan Abdülmecid himself, who was also a hattat (master calligrapher).
View of the Ottoman Neo-Baroque style Ortaköy Mosque
and the Bosphorus Bridge
The Bosphorus Bridge, also called the First Bosphorus Bridge is one of the two bridges in Istanbul, Turkey, spanning the Bosphorus strait and thus connecting Europe and Asia. The bridge is located between Ortaköy (on the European side) and Beylerbeyi (on the Asian side). It is a gravity anchored suspension bridge with steel pylons and inclined hangers. The aerodynamic deck is hanging on zigzag steel cables. It is 1,510 m (4,954 ft) long with a deck width of 39 m (128 ft).
Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul
Photo: Kara Sabahat
The Valens Aqueduct is a Roman aqueduct which was the major water-providing system of the Eastern Roman capital of Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey). Completed by Roman Emperor Valens in the late 4th century AD, it was restored by several Ottoman Sultans, and is one of the most important landmarks of the city. The aqueduct stands in Istanbul, in the quarter of Fatih, and spans the valley between the hills occupied today by the Istanbul University and the Fatih Mosque. The surviving section is 921 meters long, about 50 meters less than the original length.
Valens Aqueduct and its 4th century arches
Photo: Robert Raderschatt
The Grand Bazaar n Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 covered streets and over 4,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and half a million visitors daily. Today, the grand bazaar houses two mosques, two hamams, four fountains, and multiple restaurants and cafes. The sprawling complex consists of 12 major buildings and has 22 doors.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
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Festivals & Events
People, neighbours, relatives and friends pay visits and go to see each other. Young people kiss their parents’ hands and receive best wishes and blessings from them. It is a tradition to give money or little gifts to those childreen who kiss one’s hands. Candies are served to visitors during Ramadan. That is why Ramadan is also called the “Sugar Festival”.
Feast of the Sacrifice
This festival takes place in Islam as a memory of the story in which a ram fell from the sky just at the moment when the Prophet Abraham was about to sacrifice his son to God.
Hıdrellez, is one of the seasonal festivals of all Turkish world. Hıdrellez Day, which is known as Ruz-ı Hızır (day of Hızır), is celebrated as the day on which Prophets Hızır and Ilyas met with each other on earth. The words Hızır and İlyas have since fused together pronounced as Hıdrellez. Hıdrellez Day falls on May 6 in the Gregorian calendar and April 23 in the Julian calendar, also known as the “Rumi” calendar.
The word Nevruz is of Persian origin and is a combination of the words “nev” (new) and “ruz” (day), meaning new day. According to the old Persian calendar, it is the first day of the year and regarded as the start of spring, when the sun enters the house of Aries.
Victory Festival, (August 30)
On this day in 1922, the fifth day of the big attack against the invading Greek Armies, the Dumlupinar Battle under the command of Mustafa Kemal was won and determined the result of the Independence War. This big attack ended in Izmir with the defeat of the Greeks on September 9.
The Republic Festival, October 29
This is the anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish Republic by the Turkish Grand National Assembly in 1923.
National Sovereignty and Children's Day,
On this date in 1920, during the War of Independence, the Turkish Grand National Assembly was established in Ankara by Mustafa Kemal and laid down the foundations of a new independent state from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, dedicated April 23 to the children of the country to emphasize that they are the future of the new nation. This is the world's first and only holiday for children.
Commemoration of Atatürk and Youth and Sports Day,
On this date in 1919, Mustafa Kemal arrived in Anatolia at the Black Sea Port of Samsun which marks the beginning of the War of Independence. The week including this holiday has been celebrated as "Youth Week" in Turkey since 1983.
This three day festival comes after an entire month of "absolute" fasting during Ramadan in which Qur'an was revealed.
This four day festival falls on the tenth day of the last month of the Muslim year and marks the completion of the course of Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Sacrificial animals are slaughtered and their meat distributed among relatives, neighbors and the poor on this occasion. The slaughtering of animals is a symbolic expression whereby a Muslim express his readniess to lay down his own life and everything he owes for the sake of God.