Did You Know..?

 Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency has provided some fascinating facts about this amazing city.  

Istanbul is a transcontinental city.

Straddling the Bosphorus Strait and spanning both Europe and Asia, Istanbul is the only city in the world that was built on two continents. The Sea of Marmara divides the city with a gorgeous view and most Istanbulites travel between two continents almost daily on ferries cruising back and forth across the waters.

Istanbul is one of the most-visited cities in the world.

Ranking 10th on the list of CNN Travel of most-visited cities in the world with nearly 13.5 million visitors in 2018 and hosting more than nine million tourists in 2021, Istanbul is a very popular travel destination. 

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It is home to one of the most expansive covered markets in the world.

Spanning an area of 30,700 m2 with 61 covered streets, The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı to the locals) in Istanbul is considered to be one of the largest covered bazaars in the world. The number of shops in the Grand Bazaar oscillates between 3000-4000 and they are visited by 250,000 to 400,000 visitors daily. Founded in the 15th Century, the Grand Bazaar offers almost limitless choices for every budget from souvenirs to authentic carpets, locally crafted leather goods, ceramic tiles, antique and handcrafted jewelry. 

Istanbul served as the capital of two empires.

With a history dating back to some 400,000 years, Istanbul has always been a favourite of empires thanks to its strategically important location. Straddling Europe and Asia and divided by the Bosphorus channel, Istanbul served as the capital of East Roman, also known as Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires for more than 1500 years. The city also provides the only passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean via the Sea of Marmara, which only adds to its popularity. 

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Istanbul is a gastrocity.

Home to award-winning restaurants, Istanbul is a gastronomy metropolis of both Turkey and the world. You can find the best of local flavors across Turkey in Istanbul, like the traditional Turkish breakfast or the world-famous kebabs, as well as world cuisines, fine dining options, and fusion restaurants. Capital of empires known for their delicious palace cuisines, Istanbul is the starting point of delicious flavors spanning continents from Europe and the Middle East to Africa. 

Istanbul is home to many architectural wonders.

Istanbul has hosted many civilizations in its rich history, and its architectural wonders are a reflection of this heritage. Standouts among the many palaces, mansions, towers, churches, inns, bazaars, and castles, include Galata Tower and Maiden’s Tower. Galata Tower was built during  Byzantine Emperor Justinian's reign around 507 CE. Today it's a museum and its balcony offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Istanbul. A symbol of Istanbul’s skyline and one of the world's most photographed structures, Maiden’s Tower dates back to 410 BC. Inspiring legends, the tower is featured in national and international pop culture and offers a breathtaking view of Istanbul. 

Istanbul is one of James Bond’s favorite cities. 

Istanbul has featured in three film adaptations of the book series. In the 1963 film From Russia with Love, Ian Fleming’s iconic character, portrayed by Sean Connery, visits the Hagia Sophia, the most glorious architectural heritage of the Byzantine Empire. In 1999, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond dashes to the iconic Maiden’s Tower, located in the middle of the Bosphorus, to save his kidnapped boss. And last but certainly not least, in 2012 Skyfall Daniel Craig’s 007 starts a motorbike chase with henchman Patrice in the Grand Bazaar and Eminönü Square right around the Spice Bazaar. 

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Agatha Christie was a fan of the city. 

One of the best-selling authors in the world, Agatha Christie was a frequent visitor of Istanbul. The renowned detective novelist often stayed in Beyoğlu and is believed to have written her very popular 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express during her visits to the city. It’s no surprise she chose to stay in Istanbul whilst writing one of her most-known novels, as Istanbul, shrouded in mystery and allure, offers the perfect backdrop with its history and culture. 

Istanbul is home to some of Turkey’s oldest sports clubs.

Some of Turkey’s oldest and best football clubs were founded in Istanbul. Dating back to 1903, Beşiktaş JK is considered to be the oldest sports club in Turkey and represented the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey in international sports competitions. Following Beşiktaş, Galatasaray was founded in 1905 and Fenerbahçe in 1907. These three are still considered to be the best of Turkish football and get their names after the districts of Istanbul. 

Istanbul has been an inspiration to many literary figures.

Istanbul has inspired many local and international authors to set their stories in this magnificent city. Eminent Italian author Umberto Eco’s 2000 novel Baudolino takes place in 1204 Istanbul. Known and loved for his children’s novel Heart, Edmondo de Amicis wrote a non-fiction travelogue about the city in 1877 called Constantinople. French author Pierre Loti wrote extensively about Turkey but his most well-known story Aziyade takes place in the Ottoman capital Istanbul. The author is so well-loved in Turkey that the hill frequented during his time in the city to write his novels is now called Pierre Loti Hill. 

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Istanbul is Turkey’s cultural hearbeat. 

Istanbul is home to many talented and up-and-coming artists and hosts many events throughout the year. The newly rebuilt Atatürk Culture Center in Beyoğlu hosts exhibitions, concerts, theatre, and ballet performances all year long, and the annual Beyoğlu Culture Route Festival takes place with the participation of thousands of local and international artists. The only international art fair in the city, Contemporary Istanbul, brings together artists, collectors, art galleries, and art lovers in Istanbul every year.