Istanbul is located on both sides of the Bosporus. With a sky full of domes and minarets, Istanbul is one of the truly romantic cities. Its history goes back to the past, from Byzantium and its leading position in the Ottoman Empire to today, when it is the largest city in Turkey and its cultural center. In this huge city, you can stroll through the same streets where the sultans walked, admire the mosques, look into the Sultan’s harem or shop at the Grand Bazaar.
The only city in the world on two continents, it is the most important and versatile city in Turkey from both a cultural and economic point of view. Officially, Istanbul currently (2018) has over 15,000,000 inhabitants, but it is assumed to be much more, due to the constant strong influx of Turks and Kurds from Eastern Anatolia and people from the Islamic countries of the former Soviet Union.
Today Istanbul is the financial capital and the industrial center of Turkey. It employs approximately 20% of Turkey’s industrial labor and contributes 38% of Turkey’s industrial workspace. In addition, the city generates 55% of Turkey’s trade and 45% of the country’s wholesale trade and generates 21.2% of Turkey’s gross national product. Istanbul contributes 40% of all taxes collected in Turkey and produces 27.5% of Turkey’s national product.
- Istanbul is the fifth largest city in the world after Shanghai, Mumbai, Karachi, and Delhi with around 15 million inhabitants.
- At the time of Suleiman the Magnificent, there are over 1,400 public toilets in the city, while in Western Europe they were not even known in the palaces of the kings.
- Agatha Christie writes the famous novel “Murder in Orient Express” at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul.
- The four bronze horses that today adorn the cathedral of San Marco in Venice were stolen by the crusades after the conquest of Constantinople in 1204.
- With over 3,000 shops, the Grand Bazaar is the largest market in the world.
- In the 17th century, Hazarfen Ahmed Chelebi flew with the help of artificial wings from the top of the Galata Tower and became the first man to fly after the mythical Icarus.