General information on Istanbul city: facts, features, travel advice

Istanbul is one of the most magnificent cities in the world that you would not want to miss. Istanbul is distinctive. There is no other city that encompasses two continents. No other city has served as the capital of two prominent empires. Its revered churches, mosques, and palaces pay homage to its illustrious past. This teeming 14-million-person metropolis also has a thriving presence as a treasure trove of the arts and a shoppers’, revelers’, and foodies’ paradise.

It has been populated for at least 8,000 years and served as the capital of two of the world’s greatest empires, the Byzantines and the Ottomans, and every brick is deeply embedded in history. The highlights are simple; you can see the popular locations in a couple of days.

Istanbul’s origin can be traced back to the sixth millennium BCE. During the Neolithic and Chalcolithic historical periods, people are thought to have lived around the Küçükçekmece Lake. Tools from the Lower Palaeolithic Era were unearthed in Dudullu, while others from the Middle Palaeolithic Era and Upper Palaeolithic Era.

Insider Advice: Kickstart your Istanbul adventure with the Istanbul E-Pass or Istanbul Tourist Pass. These passes provide free access to around 70+ top attractions, tours and essential local services in the city with around 70% savings.
istanbul hagia sophia and topkapi palace and sultan ahmet mosque blue mosque aerial shot with drone and park green field sea , Istanbul historical peninsula panoramic view

Istanbul is also known as the Seven Hills City. The city earned this recognition from Byzantine Constantinople, which was also founded on seven hills, conscientiously following the model of Rome.

Istanbul has come a long way since then, becoming Turkey’s cultural and financial center and Europe’s most populous city. Istanbul, located on each side of the Bosphorus—the narrow strait connecting the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea—physically and culturally connects Asia and Europe.

Cityscape with Galata Tower and Gulf of the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey in a beautiful summer day

The sea defines the city. Envision yourself on a speedboat, moving across the continent-dividing Bosphorus Strait for lunch in Asia; peering down from the rooftop of your Sultanahmet hotel to the roiling Sea of Marmara; or on a boat trip up the Golden Horn, watching the exotic mosque-filled skyline of the Old City take shape.

When you come to know Istanbul a little better, it indeed seems like a city of wonder. Every area of the city is packed with tales, which is why there are so many unique mementos of Istanbul.

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