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With a population of 12 million, this is the most populated city of Turkish Republic, and is the center of exports and imports, entertainment, cultural activities, education, shopping, tourism and artistic activities across the entire country.

Located in the heart of the Old World, Istanbul is an important and renowned megalopolis with its historical monuments and magnificent natural beauties. This is the only city stretching over two continents, Europe and Asia, where they face each other across a narrow body of water called Bosphorus or the Istanbul Straits.

Founded over 2500 years ago, it soon became an important commercial center owing to its strategic location where lands and seas meet. The city of Istanbul is encircled with fortifications built in the 5th century CE and stretches over 7 hills, each of which was crowned with a sultan's mosque, adorned with Turkish monuments. The skyline of the city is bewildering, bewitching and peaceful from every angle. The Golden Horn is the best protected natural harbor in the world and had a key role in the development of the city. Its location at the junction of main routes, controlling the strategic Bosphorus straits, a peninsula with a perfect setting for defense, ideal climate, rich and bountiful nature are to the advantage of Istanbul. Under the shadow of the Roman, Byzantine and Turkish historical monuments deliberately preserved the city has a very vivid and colorful daily life, and is becoming more colorful with the rich social, cultural and commercial activities.

A Useful Link for Istanbul Living in Istanbul


Topkapi Palace Museum
 It has been the official residence of the Ottoman sultans beginning from Sultan Fatih the Conqueror until the reign of Sultan Abdulmajid for a period of 400 years and was the administrative, educational and cultural centre of the Ottoman State.

From Aksaray, take the tram to Sultanahmet stop. From Taksim, take the city bus (T4: Taksim-Sultanahmet).

Saray içi, Sultanahmet
Tel: (212) 512 04 80

Open daily 9.30 - 17.00 except Tuesday

Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)

Hagia Sophia is a gorgeous architectural wonder and an important monument both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum at the Turkish Republic, Hagia Sophia has always been the precious of its time.

Eminönü District Istanbul 
Tel: 0212 5221750

For more information please check; http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Istanbul/Sights/Sultanahmet/Ayasofya.html

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)

Called the Blue Mosque because of the color of its interior tiles, this masterful building with its many domes and six minarets was built to compete with the Hagia Sophia across the street.

Sultanahmet Istanbul 
Tel: 212 5181330

Dolmabahçe Palace Museum

Dolmabahçe Palace is a congruous symbol of the glory and downgrade of the 19th-century Ottoman Empire. The palace was designed by Sultan Abdulmajid’s (1839-61) favorite Ottoman Armenian architects Karabet and Nikogos Balian. After it had finished, the whole imperial family moved out from Topkapi Palace.

Dolmabahçe Meydani

Tel: 212 2585544

Open daily 9.00-15.00 except Monday and Thursday 

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. It was thought as a reservoir for the marvel quantity of water required for the Byzantine Great Palace. After the Ottoman Conquest in 1453, it continued to provide water for the Topkapi Palace.

Yerebatan Cad. No: 13, Sultanahmet
Tel: 212 5221259
Open daily 9.00 - 17.30


There are many shopping alternatives in Istanbul. Taksim and Nisantasi are major centres for shopping on the European side whereas Kadiköy and Bagdat Caddesi are the two most favourite places in Asia. The city is also rich in terms of its big shopping malls. There are also large grocery stores scattered around the city – large chain stores like Migros, Tansas, Carrefour, PM as well as budget stores like BIM and SOK.   

Kanyon Shopping Mall  http://www.kanyon.com.tr/

Besides best global and local brands, there are highly qualified cinema and a vast variety of cuisine choices waiting for its customers between 10.00 – 22.00. Take the M2: Metro Line to the Levent stop and follow the signs marked Kanyon.

Cevahir Shopping Mall  http://www.istanbulcevahir.com/english/#/events

Cevahir Shopping Mall, strategically located in Istanbul is home to cinemas, delicious food and limitless entertainment in Atlantis, a covered thematic play park. Take the M2: Metro Line to the Mecidiyeköy stop and follow the signs marked Cevahir.

Meydan Merter Shopping Mall      http://www.meydanmerter.com.tr

Meydan Merter Shopping Mall is a new one. Easy to transport from Davutpasa (M1 metro line and tram).

For a list of more malls, please visit http://www.letsgoistanbul.com/malls.htm


Hiking Places

Some of Turkey's most stunning natural beauty can be reached in less than three hours from the city center.

Belgrad Forest: Belgrade Forest is a huge green area to the north of Istanbul. It has many entrances but most practical and useful one is the one at Bahçeköy which is closest to Neset Suyu, where there is a 6km path around a lake. Here you can walk in the fresh air and then enjoy a snack at one of the little cafes near the start. The area is very busy at weekends in the summer for barbecues (mangal), so you can visit it in midweek or in the off peak seasons.

It is lovely to be only 20km from the centre of the city and yet only hear birds. It costs 5 lira for a car to enter the forest or 1 lira for someone on foot. It is possible to explore more, but since the signposts are written in Turkish, you should take a pocket-dictionary with you.

The 42T bus from Taksim will take you to Bahçeköy and from there it is a very short walk to the entrance.

Heybeliada : Heybeliada is the second-largest of the Prince's Islands off Istanbul's Marmara coast. As a part of the City of Istanbul, the islands can be reached by public ferries from Eminönü station, near Sultanahmet--a pleasant 90-minute trip, with stops to other islands along the way.

Yalova  :  Yalova is home to rivers, waterfalls and high, fertile plateaus. Also, it is famous for its mineral water thermal spas. From Istanbul, a car ferry from Yenikapi will get you to Yalova in just over an hour. From there, head west along the coast about 20 miles to the village of Tesvikiye, where a footpath leads up into Plum Plateau (Erikli Yaylasi). The hike lasts about four hours, and at the top of the plateau, there are two large waterfalls. Along the way, you will be treated to views of fruit and nut orchards as well as the Marmara Sea.

Agva  :  Agva (Yesilçay)  is located on the Black Sea Coast about 60 miles northeast of Istanbul. There are hourly buses at Harem, a port on the Asian side of the Istanbul to Sile. Surrounded by green hills and valleys, Agva is a relatively unspoiled fishing village nestled between two creeks. There are no marked trails but plenty of easy strolls through the forests and along the water. Take time to explore the area around Kilimli and Kadirga bays, dotted with small waterfalls and caves.