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İstanbul
             
Area: 5.712 km² , Population: 11,372,613 (2007)
GENERAL INFORMATION
"The god and human, nature and art are together in there, they have created such a perfect place that it is valuable to see." Lamartine’s famous poetic line reveals his love for İstanbul, describing the embracing of two continents, with one arm reaching out to Asia and the other to Europe.
İstanbul, once known as the capital of capital cities, has many unique features. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and the only one to have been a capital during two consecutive empires - Christian and Islamic. Once was capital of the Ottoman Empire, İstanbul still remains the commercial, historical and cultural pulse of Turkey, and its beauty lies in its ability to embrace its contradictions. Ancient and modern, religious and secular, Asia and Europe, mystical and earthly all co-exist here. Its variety is one of İstanbul’s greatest attractions: The ancient mosques, palaces, museums and bazaars reflect its diverse history. The thriving shopping area of Taksim buzzes with life and entertainment. And the serene beauty of the İstanbul strait, Princes Islands and parks bring a touch of peace to the otherwise chaotic metropolis.

HOW TO GET
By Road : Not surprisingly, Istanbul is well connected to every part of Turkey. Buses are frequent and plentiful, and the main coach station (otogar) is at Esenler, on the European side. There are countless private bus companies, all of whom have a ticket office at the station and the larger ones have offices dotted around town, especially in areas like Taksim, Sultanahmed and Besiktas. Harem, on the Asian side. For journeys further afield, there buses to Greece, Macedonia, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Russia, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria and Jordan.
Within the city, public transport is a good way of getting around. There are minibuses, buses, taxis, trams (from Aksaray) a new subway (between Taksim and Levent) and a tiny electric tramcar (Beyoğlu to Taksim).
By Rail : Not as popular a mode of transport as buses, with a much smaller network, there are rail connections from Istanbul to Ankara, Izmir and Eastern Anatolian cities. Most of the services are slower than buses, although between the three main cities, there are the mavi tren, mototren or ekspress, which are fast and comfortable. Reservations are essential for these journeys, and there are several classes of seats and sleepers. International services from Sirkeci (on the European side) and Haydarpasa (Asian side) stations include Vienna, Munich, Budapest, Salonica, (via Eskisehir, Konya, and Gaziantep), Aleppo, (via Tatvan and Van), Tehran, Moscow and Bucharest. Trains heading west leave from Sirkeci, and east from Haydarpasa station.
By Boat : Maritime Lines run both the urban and national transport. Marinas also have connections with European ports.
Urban Maritime Transportation runs ships which operate between the following destinations within Istanbul: Kadikoy–Haydarpasa–Karakoy , Eminonu–Uskudar , Eminonu–Kadikoy , Bridge–Yenikoy, Beykoz–Kavaklar , Sirkeci-Bostanci , Bridge–Prince’s Islands , Bridge – Yalova , Kabatas–Cinarcik , Bostanci-Cinarcik.
Boats operate from Istanbul to the following Black Sea towns: Zonguldak, Sinop, Samsun, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, as well as Izmir. Marmara Lines run to Marmara Island, Bandirma and Mudanya.
By Air : Ataturk International Airport is 20 km east from the city centre at the European part of the city. There are direct flights to every European capital, and many to Asia, USA and the Middle East. The domestic terminal has flights to every domestic airport in the country, with several a day to major cities like Ankara and Izmir.
Sabiha Gokcen Airport is at the Asian side of the city and many flights to other cities in Turkey.

DONT LEAVE WITHOUT
- Seeing two of the master pieces of religious art of Istanbul, Süleymaniye Mosque and Sultanahmet Mosque,
- Visiting Hagia Sophia and Museum,
- Visiting Topkapı Palace, Dolmabahçe Palace and Rumeli Hisarı,
- Having a ship voyage at Bosporus and Islands,
- Watching Istanbul panorama from Galata Tower and Pierre Loti,
- Following art and cultural activities,
- Being curious and seeing entertainment life,
- Visiting Ortaköy bazaar,
- Having a tour via phaeton in Büyükada,
- Eating fish in Bosporus, Kumkapı and çiçek bazaar, yogurt in Kanlıca, and profiterole in Beyoğlu,
- Buying carpet, jewelry, leather clothes in Kapalıçarşı, and Turkish delight, baklava, pastırma and deserts in Mısır Bazaar,
- Shopping in Beyoğlu and all mega shopping centers

GOLDEN HORN
This horn-shaped estuary divides European İstanbul. One of the best natural harbours in the world, it was once the centre for the Byzantine and Ottoman navies and commercial shipping interests. Today, attractive parks and promenades line the shores, a picturesque scene especially as the sun goes down over the water. At Fener and Balat, neighbourhoods midway up the Golden Horn, there are entire streets filled with old wooden houses, churches, and synagogues dating from Byzantine and Ottoman times. The Orthodox Patriarchy resides at Fener and a little further up the Golden Horn at Eyup, are some wonderful examples of Ottoman architecture. Muslim pilgrims from all over the world visit Eyup Mosgue and Tomb of Eyup, the Prophet Mohammed’s standard bearer, and it is one of the holiest places in Islam. The area is a still a popular burial place, and the hills above the mosque are dotted with modern gravestones interspersed with ornate Ottoman stones. The Pierre Loti Cafe, at the top of hill overlooking the shrine and the Golden Horn, is a wonderful place to enjoy the tranquility of the view.

SULTANAHMET
Many places of tourist interest are concentrated in Sultanahmet, in heart of the Imperial Centre of the Ottoman Empire. The most important places in this area, all of which are described in detail in the “Places of Interest” section, are Topkapı Palace, Aya Sofya, Sultanahmet Mosgue (the Blue Mosque), the Hippodrome, Kapalı Carşı (Covered Market), Yerebatan Sarnıcı and the Museum of Islamic Art.
In addition to this wonderful selection of historical and architectural sites, Sultanahmet also has a large concentration of carpet and souvenir shops, hotels and guesthouses, cafes, bars and restaurants, and travel agents.

HAYDARPAŞA
To the north of Kadikoy is Haydarpasa, and the train station built in 1908 with Prussian-style architecture which was the first stop along the Baghdad railway. Now it is the main station going to eastbound destinations both within Turkey, and international. There are tombs and monuments dedicated to the English and French soldiers who lost their lives during the Crimean War (1854-56), near the military hospital. The north-west wing of the 19th Century Selimiye Barracks once housed the hospital, used by Florence Nightingale to care for soldiers, and remains to honour her memory.

POLONEZKÖY
Polonezköy, although still within the city, is 25 km. away from the centre and not easy to reach by public transport. Translated as “village of the Poles”, the village has a fascinating history: It was established in 1848 by Prince Czartorisky, leader of the Polish nationals who was granted exile in the Ottoman Empire to escape oppression in the Balkans. During his exile, he succeeded in establishing a community of Balkans, which still survives, on the plot of land sold to him by a local monastery.
Since the 1970s the village has become a popular place with local İstanbulites, who buy their pig meat there (pig being forbidden under Islamic law and therefore difficult to get elsewhere). All the Poles have since left the village, and the place is inhabited now by wealthy city people, living in the few remaining Central European style wooden houses with pretty balconies.
What attracts most visitors to Polonezkoy is its vast green expanse, which was designated İstanbul’s first national park, and the walks though forests with streams and wooden bridges. Because of its popularity, it gets crowded at weekends and the hotels are usually full.

KİLYOS
Kilyos is the nearest beach resort to the city, on the Black Sea coast on the European side of the İstanbul strait. Once a Greek fishing village, it has quickly been developed as a holiday-home development, and gets very crowded in summer. Because of its ease to get there, 25km and plenty of public transport, it is good for a day trip, and is a popular weekend getaway with plenty of hotels, and a couple of campsites.

ŞİLE
A pleasant, small holiday town, Şile lies 50km from Üsküdar on the Black Sea coast and some people even live there and commute into İstanbul. The white sandy beaches are easily accessible from the main highway, lying on the west, as well as a series of small beaches at the east end. The town itself if perched on a clifftop over looking the bay tiny island. There is an interesting French-built black-and-white striped lighthouse, and 14th century Genoese castle on the nearby island. Apart from its popular beaches, the town is also famous for its craft; Şile bezi, a white muslin fabric a little like cheesecloth, which the local women embroider and sell their products on the street, as well as all over Turkey.
The town has plenty of accommodation available, hotels, guest houses and pensions, although can get very crowded at weekends and holidays as it is very popular with people from İstanbul for a getaway, especially in the summer. There are small restaurants and bars in the town.

PRINCE ISLANDS
Also known as İstanbul Islands, there are eight within one hour from the city, in the Marmara Sea. Boats ply the islands from Sirkeci, Kabataş and Bostancı, with more services during the summer. These islands, on which monasteries were established during the Byzantine period, was a popular summer retreat for palace officials. It is still a popular escape from the city, with wealthier owning summer houses.
Büyükada; The largest and most popular one in İstanbul is Büyükada (the Great Island). Large wooden mansions still remain from the 19th century when wealthy Greek and Armenian bankers built them as a holiday villas. The island has always been a place predominantly inhabited by minorities.
Buyukada has long had a history of people coming here in exile or retreat; its most famous guest being Leon Trotsky, who stayed for four years writing ‘The History of the Russian Revolution. The monastery of St George also played host to the granddaughter of Empress Irene, and the royal princess Zoe, in 1012.
The island consists of two hills, both surmounted by monasteries, with a valley between. Motor vehicles are banned, so getting around the island can be done by graceful horse and carriage, leaving from the main square off Isa Celebi Sokak. Bicycles can also be hired.
The southern hill, Yule Tepe, is the quieter of the two and also home of St George’s Monastery. It consists of a series of chapels on three levels, the site of which is a building dating back to the 12th century. In Byzantine times it was used as an asylum, with iron rings on the church floors used to restrain patients. On the northern hill is the monastery İsa Tepe, a 19th century house.
The entire island is lively and colourful, with many restaurants, hotels, tea houses and shops. There are very big well-kept houses, trim gardens, and pine groves, as well as plenty of beach and picnic areas.
Burgazada; It is a smaller and less infrastructured for tourists.The famous Turkish novelist, Sait Faik Abasıyanık lived there, and his house has been turned into a museum dedicated to his work, and retains a remarkable tranquil and hallowed atmosphere.
Heybeliada; "Island of the Saddlebag", because of its shape, is loved for its natural beauty and beaches. It also has a highly prestigious and fashionable watersports club in the northwest of the island. One of its best-known landmarks is the Greek Orthodox School of Theology, with an important collection of Byzantine manuscripts. The school sits loftily on the northern hill, but permission is needed to enter, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Fener. The Deniz Harp Okulu, the Naval High School, is on the east side of the waterfront near the jetty, which was originally the Naval War Academy set up in 1852, then a high school since 1985. Walking and cycling are popular here, plus isolated beaches as well as the public Yöruk Beach, set in a magnificent bay.
There are plenty of good local restaurants and tea houses, especially along Ayyıldız Caddesi, and the atmosphere is one of a close community.

MINIATURK
The construction of Miniaturk, the first miniature park in Istanbul, began in June 30, 2001. With great fanfare, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the park to visitors on May 2, 2003.
The park contains 105 models done in 1/25th scale. 45 of the structures are from Istanbul, 45 are from Anatolia, and 15 are from the Ottoman territories that today lie outside of Turkey. Additional space was reserved for potential future models. The infrastructure was built taking into consideration the needs of potential additions. Therefore, Miniaturk will continue growing, modeling, in a sense, planned urbanization.


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