Istanbul! This dream city, which “… Just to love a region of yours is worth a whole life….” (The famous Turkish poet, “Yahya Kemal”). Istanbul, a city full of secret beauties embraces its visitors with historical monuments of Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman era. Hagia Sophia with its serene atmosphere, the magnificent Topkapi Palace, the mystical Maiden’s Tower, and the fabulous Basilica Cistern which all date back as early as 627 B.C. of Roman and Byzantine era.
Istanbul is an different cultural capital of 2700 years of history, which offers proves that people of different religion, language and culture can survive together in peace. The European Parliament has voiced Istanbul as the “Cultural Capital of 2010″ in Turkey. Undoubtedly Istanbul is a most fascinating city without a rival. It is a treasure full of magnificent and invaluable monuments of 2700 years. Therefore, it has not been easy to make a selection among them.
The capital of cultures, Istanbul has a long glorious history and splendour. This historic city, which has embraced and developed different cultures and religions, was always been given importance and made the capital in ancient times, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
The story of the foundation of the city is embroided by legend. The city was first established by a Thracian hero, Byzas. He came to the present day Sarayburnu, founded the city and was filled with admiration for its beauty, so he named Chalcedon (present-day Kadıköy) on the Asian shore “the Land of the Blinds”.
Istanbul has never lost any of its magnificence since ancient time and has become a megalopolis with a population as dense as that of Greece. It is also a major port and a center for industry, commerce and tourism as it was in the past.
The city’s glory has always been inspiration for poems and songs. Orhan Veli, in one of his poems, “I’m listening to Istanbul”, listens to the city as if he was listening to the history.
“ I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes closed / It’s heady with the old lives. / There standing a waterside residence with his gloomy boat-houses / In the wuthering blown over southwest wind I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes closed. ”
The major monuments in the city, which has had different names as Byzantium, Constantinople, Dersaadet and Istanbul, are especially abound in an area known as the historic peninsula, bounded by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.
Not only the architecture but also the embellishment of the city walls, cisterns, obelisks, churches, mosques, mescits, madrasahs, tombs, baths, imarets, bedesten, the Grand Covered Bazaar, and palaces attract a lot of visitors. Among these monuments the Basilica Cistern, the St. Sophia and Chora Museum, the Süleymaniye and the Sultan Ahmet mosques, and the Topkapi and the Dolmabahçe palaces are the best known ones. Besides them, the Yalis (waterside residences) on both sides of the Bosphorus are also worth seeing because they are fine examples of civil Ottoman architecture.
The Isles, Polonezköy and the Belgrad forest are good places for swimming and relaxation.
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