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The Istanbul Portal

Istanbul and the Bosphorus today

Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul (IPA: [isˈtanbul] or colloquial [ɨsˈtanbul]); historically Byzantium and later Constantinople; see the other names of Istanbul) is the largest city of Turkey, the largest city proper (and second largest metropolitan area) in Europe, and the third largest city proper in the world. The city covers 27 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the Europe (Thrace) and on the Asia (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents.

The Hagia Sophia: Originally a church, later a mosque, now a museum, was the largest ever cathedral building in the world for a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in Spain

In its long history, Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Byzantine Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

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Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Ayasofya, from the Greek: Αγία Σοφία, "Holy Wisdom"; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia) is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral ever built in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between A.D. 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site (the previous two had both been destroyed by riots). It was designed by two architects, Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. The Church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 50 foot (15 m) silver iconostasis. It was the patriarchal church of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly 1000 years.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque.[1]. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features — such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside — were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey.

Selected picture

Haydarpaşa railway station in Istanbul
Credit: Fragwürdig

Haydarpaşa railway station is a terminus main station of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) in Haydarpaşa close to Kadıköy at the Anatolian part of Istanbul, Turkey. International, domestic and regional trains running to east and southbound destinations depart from this major terminal which was built as the terminus of the Istanbul–Baghdad and Istanbul–Damascus–Medina railways during the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

January selected anniversaries

Selected biography

Ajda Pekkan (born February 12, 1946 in Istanbul) is a Turkish pop music singer and actress. Through a career spanning five decades thus far, Ajda has released more than 20 albums and with Sezen Aksu, is the most commercially successful female Turkish music artist with the sales of over 30 million copies worldwide. She is nicknamed the "Superstar" of Turkish pop music. Although famed for her music, Ajda started her career as an actress with appearances in almost 50 films.

During her music career, Ajda has recorded songs in 9 languages. Apart from Turkish, she is also fluent in English and French. She also knows Azerbaijani and Italian.

The success of her songs resulted in a series of Turkish-language concerts with Enrico Macias at the Paris Olympia in 1976. In acknowledgement of her nickname, Ajda released an album called Superstar in 1977. The same year, she participated in the Yamaha Music Festival in Tokyo to great success. She released German and French records in the early 1970s, and her Pour Lui, became very successful in France. At this pinnacle, she released her second album Süperstar II in 1979.

Ajda represented Turkey with the entry "Pet'r Oil" at the Eurovision Song Contest 1980 in Den Haag, the Netherlands. She then decided to take a break and temporarily moved to the USA. After returning to Turkey, she recorded two failed albums, Sen Mutlu Ol (You be happy) and Sevdim Seni (I Loved You) in the then current trend of Turkish music, but returned to her original type of Western pop and gave concerts in 1983 with enormous success. That same year, she released Süperstar III which she followed with Süperstar IV (1987). The album was a huge success; coincidentally, it is her only album that is not available on CD.

In the news

In the news

Did you know?

  1. ... that although banned in 1943, the Baklahorani carnival, in Istanbul, revived after nearly 70 years? (January 19, 2012)
  2. ... that in the 16th century the Church of St. Mary of Constantinople
    Odalar1920 1.jpg
    (pictured) in Istanbul was the center of a quarter mainly inhabited by Italians deported from the city of Caffa in Crimea? (December 4, 2011)
  3. ... that the Florya Atatürk Marine Mansion
    (pictured), built in 1935 as a summer residence for Turkish president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, is on the sea about 70 m (230 ft) offshore? (November 14, 2011)
  4. ... that the early Christian Martyrion of Saints Carpus and Papylus, which is part of the Church of Saint Menas complex in Istanbul, currently houses two shops, an iron workshop and a car wash? (October 28, 2011)
  5. ... that the Church of St. George of Samatya in Istanbul may have been given to the Armenian community because of the intercession of a favorite of Sultan Ibrahim? (October 22, 2011)
  6. ... that footballer Hasan Ahmet Sari left Istanbul with his family after living through the 1999 İzmit earthquake? (August 18, 2011)
  7. ... that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's state funeral took place twice, once immediately after his death in 1938 and then again in 1953? (May 1, 2011)
  8. ... that the Şeyh Süleyman Mosque in Istanbul was almost certainly an annex of Constantinople's Monastery of Pantokrator in the Byzantine Age? (December 8, 2010)
  9. ... that the Manastır Mosque
    Manastir Mosque 2010-10-09 02.jpg
    (pictured) in Istanbul is one of the few surviving Byzantine religious buildings of Constantinople whose dedication remains uncertain? (November 9, 2010)
  10. ... that even though Simeon I of Bulgaria burned the Church of St. Mary of the Spring near the Byzantine capital Constantinople, his son Peter married the daughter of Romanos I Lekapenos there three years later? (November 6, 2010)
  11. ... that the broken top of the Aviation Martyrs' Monument in Istanbul is to symbolize the incomplete status of the flight missions? (September 21, 2010)
  12. ... that the lighthouse Rumeli Feneri was built in 1855 in order to provide safe navigation for the French and British war ships entering the Istanbul Strait from Black Sea during the Crimean War? (June 14, 2010)
  13. ... that the sports hall of Europe's largest prison complex in Istanbul was converted into a courtroom because the existing one was not big enough to accommodate the hearings of the Ergenekon trial? (February 11, 2010)
  14. ... that in 1983, Yıldırım Aktuna, a neuropsychiatrist and later a politician, founded Turkey’s first alcohol and drug rehabilitation center at the country's largest psychiatric hospital in Istanbul? (December 31, 2009)
  15. ... that the 1976 crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 452, resulting in the death of 154 people, is the all-time worst aviation accident in Turkey? (October 8, 2009) Wikipedia:Recent additions 249
  16. ... that Fatma Aliye Topuz (1862-1936), whose portrait illustrates the reverse of the current 50 Turkish lira banknote, is credited as the first female Turkish and Muslim writer? (May 5, 2009) Wikipedia:Recent additions 244#5 May 2009
  17. ... that human rights activist Ayse Nur Zarakolu, an Amnesty International "prisoner of conscience", was arrested 30 times and jailed four for violating censorship laws in Turkey? (March 13, 2009) Wikipedia:Recent additions 242
  18. ... that Istanbul Hezarfen Airfield hosts around 30,000 music fans every September for the annual Rock'n Coke open air music festival? (January 20, 2009) Wikipedia:Recent additions 239
  19. ... that the crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 634 on 8 January 2003 was the worst crash involving a BAe 146? (January 4, 2009) Wikipedia:Recent additions 238
  20. ... that after being deposed by his brother Abdul Hamid II, Ottoman sultan Murad V was detained in the Malta Pavilion? (December 16, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 236
  21. ... that the Khedive Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, once a mansion for Ottoman governors, now serves as an upscale restaurant? (December 15, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 236
  22. ... that the Esma Sultana Mansion
    Esma Sultan Yalısı.JPG
    (pictured) , a multipurpose event venue in Istanbul, Turkey, looks ruined because only its interior was reconstructed after a 1975 fire? (December 1, 2008)
  23. ... that Süreyya Opera House in Istanbul, built in 1927 as a musical theater but used all the time as a cinema, gained its intended status only in 2007 after redevelopment? (October 30, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 234
  24. ... that the Sultan Bayezid II Mosque is the oldest surviving Ottoman imperial mosque complex in Istanbul, Turkey? (August 13, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 226
  25. ... that the relics housed within the chapel near the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae in Istanbul were credited by the Byzantines for victories against the Avars, Arabs, and Rus? (July 15, 2008)
  26. ... that the Montreux Convention of 1936 is an international treaty regulating the Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits? (July 8, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 221
  27. ...that Sultanahmet Jail in Istanbul, Turkey, which served mostly as a prison reserved for intellectual dissidents, is today a five-star hotel? (March 6, 2008)Wikipedia:Recent additions 210
  28. ...that restaurant Beyti in Istanbul, famous for its Beyti kebab, once catered U.S. president Richard Nixon's Air Force One? (March 1, 2008)Wikipedia:Recent additions 209
  29. ...that Hagia Sophia (pictured) in Turkey has runic inscriptions left by Vikings? (February 29, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 209
  30. ...that the Milion
    Milion 2007.jpg
    (pictured) of Constantinople was the origin of all the roads into the European cities of the Byzantine Empire? (February 27, 2008)
  31. ...that the award-winning Turkish restaurant Changa in Istanbul is being supervised by the Kiwi chef Peter Gordon? (February 23, 2008)
  32. ...that the Valens Aqueduct was the major water-providing system of medieval Constantinople and Ottoman Istanbul? (February 16, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 206
  33. ...that the church of Hagia Thekla in Constantinople, now a mosque, was rebuilt by Emperor Isaac I Komnenos as thanks for surviving a hunting accident? (January 15, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 200
  34. ...that the Koca Mustafa Pasha Mosque (pictured) in Istanbul features a cypress tree with a chain that was swung between two people who gave contradictory statements to determine which one was telling the truth? (January 14, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 200
  35. ...that the ticket lottery site for the December 2007 Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert featuring Led Zeppelin, crashed due to over a billion page views of fans seeking to purchase the 20,000 tickets on sale? (January 8, 2008) Wikipedia:Recent additions 198
  36. ...that after the Fall of Constantinople, the Ottomans demolished the Column of Justinian to symbolize their capture of the city? (December 10, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 190
  37. ...that the Galatasaray S.K. has origins from the Ottoman Empire era? (December 4, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 190
  38. ...that the Mosque of the Rose in Istanbul is so named because on the day of the Fall of Constantinople the building was adorned with garlands of roses? (November 27, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 190
  39. ...that SantralIstanbul, a modern art museum in Istanbul, Turkey, is located in what was the first power station of the Ottoman Empire? (November 22, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 189
  40. ...that the mosque of Hirami Ahmet Pasha
    HiramiAmhetPasaMosque20071010 01.jpg
    (pictured) in Istanbul is the smallest Byzantine church of Constantinople still extant? (November 18, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 187
  41. ...that the Romanian crude oil tanker M/T Independenţa burnt for weeks in 1979 after colliding with a freighter? (August 10, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 161
  42. ...that Wilhelm von Pressel designed the first railroad in Turkey? (July 25, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 155
  43. ...that the Mosque of Kefeli in Istanbul was used jointly as a church by Roman Catholic and Armenian believers before becoming a mosque? (July 20, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 155
  44. ...that the Vefa Kilise Mosque
    VefaKiliseCamii20070531 01.jpg
    (pictured) in Istanbul is one of the first examples of byzantine churches of Constantinople which were converted into mosques by the Ottomans? (July 13, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 154
  45. ...that despite being a key building of middle byzantine Architecture, the mosque of Eski Imaret
    EskiImaretCamii20070531 03.jpg
    (pictured) is still one among the least studied monuments of Istanbul? (June 28, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 150
  46. ...that the mosque of Kalenderhane
    KalenderhaneMosqueInIstanbul20070407 01.jpg
    (pictured) in Istanbul contained the most ancient cycle of frescoes portraying Saint Francis of Assisi still extant? (May 27, 2007)
  47. ...that modern nursing was founded by Florence Nightingale at the Selimiye Barracks in Istanbul, Turkey during the Crimean War (1854-1856)? (May 22, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 142
  48. ...that the land of Haydarpaşa Cemetery, a burial ground in Istanbul, Turkey for British Commonwealth soldiers from three wars, belonged to Suleiman the Magnificent? (May 16, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 141
  49. ...that the Monument of Liberty in Istanbul, the gathering place for the second rally of the Republic Protests, is a memorial for the 31 March Incident that took place in 1909? (May 4, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 139
  50. ...that the Fenari Isa Mosque
    FeneriIsaCamiiInIstanbul20070102 1.jpg
    (pictured) in Istanbul represents one of the first examples of edifices with a quincuncial plan in Byzantine architecture? (March 17, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 128
  51. ...that Karaköy, part of ancient Galata, and an important commercial and transport center at the Golden Horn, was the birthplace of André Chénier, a French poet beheaded during the French Revolution? (March 16, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 127
  52. ...that Matild Manukyan, a wealthy Turkish businesswoman of Armenian origin, made her fortune as a brothel owner? (March 14, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 127
  53. ...that the Ottoman Bank, established as a private bank in 1856, became a central bank in 1863 and issued banknotes in the Ottoman Empire and then Turkey until 1931? (March 8, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 125
  54. ...that Baghdad Street in Istanbul was named by Murad IV to commemorate his conquest of Mesopotamia? (January 12, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 116
  55. ...that Trdat the Architect reconstructed the dome of the Hagia Sophia in 989 and built the Cathedral of Ani? (January 6, 2007) Wikipedia:Recent additions 115
  56. ...that the prosecution of writer and poet Perihan Magden for urging defiance of mandatory military service has complicated Turkey's negotiations for membership in the European Union? (June 11, 2006) Wikipedia:Recent additions 71
  57. ...that as many as 150 people a year attempt to commit suicide by jumping from either the Bosporus Bridge or Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in Turkey? (September 6, 2004) Wikipedia:Recent additions 14



Main project

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Alphonse de Lamartine
If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.

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Credit: Kara Sabahat

The Bosporus or Bosphorus (Greek: Βόσπορος), also known as the Istanbul Strait (Turkish: İstanbul Boğazı), is a strait that forms the boundary between the European part (Thrace) of Turkey and its Asian part (Anatolia). The world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, it connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara.

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Byzantine EmpireIstanbulSiege of Constantinople (717–18)Suleiman the Magnificent

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2004 Istanbul summitByzantine–Ottoman WarsByzantine–Seljuk WarsChalkeChurch of St. PolyeuctusSiege of Constantinople (674–78)Walls of ConstantinopleRobert College

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Sports: FenerbahçeGalatasarayBeşiktaşEfes PilsenFenerbahçe ÜlkerGalatasaray Café CrownBeşiktaş Cola TurkaTurkish Grand PrixRed Bull Air Race World Seriesİstanbul Cup

Municipalities: AdalarAvcılarBağcılarBahçelievlerBakırköyBayrampaşaBeşiktaşBeyoğluBeykozBüyükçekmeceÇatalcaEminönüEyüpEsenlerFatihGaziosmanpaşaGüngörenKadıköyKağıthaneKartalKüçükçekmeceMaltepePendikSarıyerSilivriSultanbeyliŞileŞişliTuzlaÜmraniyeÜsküdarZeytinburnu

Economy: Istanbul Stock ExchangeIstanbul Chamber of CommerceIstanbul Commerce UniversityLevent financial districtMaslak financial districtGrand BazaarAtatürk International AirportSabiha Gökçen International Airport

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