Historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople is the largest city in Turkey and 2nd largest city proper in the world with a population of 13 million, also making it the largest metropolitan city proper in Europe and the second largest metropolitan area in Europe by population. Istanbul is also a megacity, as well as the cultural, economic, and financial centre of Turkey. The city covers 39 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European and on the Asian sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. Istanbul is a designated alpha world city. During its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). When the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed on 29 October 1923, Ankara, which had previously served as the headquarters of the Turkish national movement during the Turkish War of Independence, was chosen as the new Turkish State's capital. Istanbul was chosen as a joint European Capital of Culture for 2010 and the European Capital of Sports for 2012. The historic areas of the city were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
Istanbul is located in northwestern Turkey within the Marmara Region on a total area of 5,343 square kilometers. The Bosphorus, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, divides the city into a European side, comprising the historic and economic centers, and an Asian, Anatolian side; as such, Istanbul is one of the two bi-continental cities in Turkey among with Canakkale. The city is further divided by the Golden Horn, a natural harbor bounding the peninsula where the former Byzantium and Constantinople were founded. In the late-19th century, a wharf was constructed in Galata at the mouth of the Golden Horn, replacing a sandy beach that once formed part of the inlet's coastline. The confluence of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn at the heart of present-day Istanbul has deterred attacking forces for thousands of years and still remains a prominent feature of the city's landscape.
The historic peninsula is said to be built on seven hills, each topped by an imperial mosque, surrounded by 22 kilometers of city walls; the largest of these hills is the site of Topkap? Palace on the Sarayburnu. Rising from the opposite side of the Golden Horn is another, conical hill, where the modern Beyoglu district is situated. Because of the topography, buildings were once constructed with the help of terraced retaining walls (some of which are still visible in older parts of the city), and roads in Beyoglu were laid out in the form of steps. Uskudar on the Asian side exhibits similarly hilly characteristics, with the terrain gradually extending down to the Bosphorus coast, but the landscape in Semsipasa and Ayazma is more abrupt, akin to a promontory. The highest point in Istanbul is Caml?ca Hill (also on the Asian side), with an altitude of 288 meters.
Istanbul has a Mediterranean climate according to the Koppen climate classification system, although its climate becomes more oceanic toward the north.
In summer the weather in Istanbul is hot and humid, with the temperature in July and August averaging 23 °C (73 °F). Summers are relatively dry, but rainfall is significant during that season. Extreme heat, however, is uncommon, as temperatures rise above 32 °C (90 °F) on only five days per year on average. During winter it is cold, wet and often snowy, with the temperature in January and February averaging 4 °C (39 °F). Snowfalls tend to be heavy, but the snow cover and temperatures below the freezing point rarely last more than a few days. Spring and autumn are mild, but are unpredictable and often wet, and can range from chilly to warm, however the nights are chilly.
Istanbul has a persistently high humidity, which can exacerbate the moderate summer heat. The humidity is especially salient during the morning hours, when humidity generally reaches eighty percent and fog is very common. The city receives fog an average of 228 days each year, with the highest concentration of foggy days being in the winter months, although it usually dissipates by noontime. Thunderstorms are uncommon, occurring just 23 days each year, but they occur most frequently in the summer and early autumn months. Istanbul has an annual average of 124 days with significant precipitation, which together generate around 844 mm (33 in) of rain. The highest recorded temperature was 40.5 °C (105 °F) on 12 July 2000, and the lowest recorded temperature was ?16.1 °C (3 °F) on 9 February 1927. Istanbul also tends to be a windy city, having an average wind speed of 18 km/h (11 mph). Due to the city's huge size, topography and maritime influences, Istanbul exhibits a multitude of distinct microclimates.
Istanbul has thirty-nine districts administered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (MMI). The district of Fatih, which includes the neighborhood and former district of Eminonu, is among the most central of these, residing on the historic peninsula south of the Golden Horn. The district corresponds to what was until the Ottoman conquest the whole of the city, across from which stood the Genoese citadel of Galata in the late Byzantine era. Those Genoese fortifications were largely demolished in the 19th century, leaving only the Galata Tower, to make way for northward expansion of the city. Galata is now a part of the Beyoglu district, which forms Istanbul's commercial and entertainment center and includes Istiklal Avenue and Taksim Square.
Dolmabahce Palace, the seat of government during the late Ottoman period, is located in Besiktas, just north of Beyoglu, across from BJK Inonu Stadium, home to Turkey's oldest football club. The former village of Ortakoy is situated within Besiktas and provides its name to the Ortakoy Mosque, along the Bosphorus near the First Bosphorus Bridge. Lining the shores of the Bosphorus north of there are yal?s, luxurious chalet mansions originally built by 19th-century aristocrats and elites as summer homes. Today, some are homes within the city's most exclusive neighborhoods, including Bebek. Further inland, between the Bosphorus Bridge and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Second Bosphorus) Bridge, are Levent, Maslak, and Mecidiyekoy, Istanbul's primary economic centers. Officially part of the Besiktas and Sisli districts, they contain Istanbul's tallest buildings and the headquarters of Turkey's largest companies.
Like Beyoglu, the districts of Uskudar and Kad?koy on the Asian side were originally separate cities, Chrysopolis and Chalcedon, respectively. During the Ottoman period, they continued to remain outside the scope of urban Istanbul, serving as tranquil outposts with seaside yal?s and gardens. However, during the second half of the 20th century, the Asian side experienced massive urban growth, owning in part to the development of Bagdat Avenue into an upscale shopping hub similar to Istiklal Avenue on the European side. The fact that these areas were largely empty until the 1960s also provided the chance for developing better infrastructure and tidier urban planning when compared with most other residential areas in the city. While now officially parts of Istanbul, much of the Asian side of the Bosphorus, which accounts for one third of the city's population, functions as a suburb of the economic and commercial centers in European Istanbul.
As a result of Istanbul's exponential growth during the 20th century, a significant portion of the city's outskirts comprised gecekondus (a Turkish term meaning built overnight), referring to the illegally constructed squatter buildings run rampant outside the centers of the country's largest cities. At present, some gecekondu areas are being gradually demolished and replaced by modern mass-housing compounds.
Istanbul is primarily known for its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, but its buildings reflect the various peoples and empires that have ruled its predecessors. Genoese, Roman, and even Greek forms of architecture remain visible in Istanbul alongside their Ottoman counterparts. Similarly, while the Hagia Sophia and imperial mosques dominate much of the city's skyline, the city is also home to a number of historic churches and synagogues.
More than two thousand years following the departure of the Greeks, few examples of Istanbul's Greek architecture have survived. Perhaps the most prominent relic of the Greek era is Maiden's (Leander's) Tower. Residing on an islet in the Bosphorus just off the coast of Uskudar, Maiden's Tower was first built by the Greeks in 411 BC to guide ships within the strait. Since then, however, the tower has undergone a number of enlargements and restorations, rendering its connection to the Greeks tenuous, and today merely serves as an observation point.
Examples of Roman architecture have proved themselves to be more durable. Obelisks from the Hippodrome of Constantinople, modeled after the Circus Maximus in Rome, are still visible in Sultanahmet Square. A section of the Valens Aqueduct, constructed in the late 4th century to carry water to the city, stands relatively intact over 970 meters (3,200 ft) in the west of the Fatih district. Similarly, the Walls of Constantinople, which were erected in stages well into the Byzantine period, are still visible along much of their original 4-mile (6.4 km) course from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn. Finally, the Column of Constantine, erected in 330 AD to mark the new Roman capital, still stands not far from the Hippodrome.
Early Byzantine architecture followed the classical Roman model of domes and arches, but further improved these architectural concepts, as in the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus. The oldest surviving Byzantine church in Istanbul (albeit partially in ruins) is the Stoudios (Imrahor) Monastery, which was built in 454. Other extant structures from the early Byzantine period include the Hagia Irene, initially the first church in the new capital, and the Prison of Anemas, which was incorporated into the city walls. After the recapture of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantines constructed two of their most important churches, Chora Church and Pammakaristos Church. Across the Golden Horn, the Genoese contributed Galata Tower, then the highest point in the citadel of Galata. Still, the pinnacle of Byzantine architecture, and one of Istanbul's most iconic structures, is the Hagia Sophia. Topped by a dome 31 meters (102 ft) in diameter, the Hagia Sofia stood as the largest cathedral for more than a thousand years, before being converted into a mosque and, now, a museum.
Among the oldest extant examples of Ottoman architecture in Istanbul are the Anadoluhisar? and Rumelihisar? fortresses, which helped block sea traffic aimed at assisting the Byzantines during the Turkish siege of the city. Over the next four centuries, the Ottomans continued to make an indelible impression on the skyline of Istanbul, building towering mosques and ornate palaces. These grand imperial mosques include Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the Blue Mosque), Suleymaniye Mosque, and Yeni Mosque, all of which were built at the peak of the Ottoman Empire, in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In the following centuries, and especially after the Tanzimat reforms, Ottoman architecture was supplanted by European styles. In contrast to the traditional elements of Topkap? Palace and the mosques on the historic peninsula, Dolmabahce Palace, Y?ld?z Palace, and Ortakoy Mosque in Besiktas, and Beylerbeyi Palace across the Bosphorus in Uskudar are clearly of Neo-Baroque style. At the same time, the areas around Istiklal Avenue were filled with grandiose European embassies and rows of buildings in European (mostly Neoclassical and, later, Art Nouveau) style started to appear along the avenue. Istanbul was one of the major centers of the Art Nouveau movement in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, with famous architects of this style building palaces and mansions in the city.
The population of the metropolis more than tripled during the 25 years between 1980 and 2005. Roughly 70% of all Istanbulites live in the European section and around 30% in the Asian section. Due to high unemployment in the southeast of Turkey, many people from that region migrated to Istanbul, where they established themselves in the outskirts of the city. Migrants, predominantly from eastern Anatolia arrive in Istanbul expecting improved living conditions and employment, which usually end with little success. This results each year with new gecekondus at the outskirts of the city, which are later developed into neighbourhoods and integrated into the greater metropolis.
The city has a population of 11,372,613 residents according to the latest count as of 2007, and is one of the largest cities in the world today. The rate of population growth in the city is currently at 3.45% a year on average, mainly due to the influx of people from the surrounding rural areas. Istanbul's population density of 2,742 people per square mile far exceeds Turkey's 130 people per square mile.
During the early Middle Ages, Istanbul was the largest city in the world, and has been one of the world's largest and most important cities during much of its history (excepting the period of collapse of the Byzantine Empire, before the Ottomans). Its geopolitical significance since ancient times brought representatives of ethnic groups from all over Europe, Asia, and Africa, many of whom became assimilated with the local Greek and later Turkish populations. Population tallies up to 1914 are estimated with variations of up to 50% depending upon researcher. The numbers from 1927 to 2000 are results of censuses. The numbers of 2005 and 2006 are based on computer simulation forecasts. The doubling of the population of Istanbul between 1980 and 1985 is due to a natural increase in population as well as the expansion of municipal limits.
The urban landscape of Istanbul is shaped by many communities. The religion with the largest community of followers is Islam. Religious minorities include Greek Orthodox Christians, Armenian Christians, Catholic Levantines and Sephardic Jews. According to the 2000 census, there were 2,691 active mosques, 123 active churches and 26 active synagogues in Istanbul; as well as 109 Muslim cemeteries and 57 non-Muslim cemeteries. Some districts used to have sizeable populations of these ethnic groups, such as the Kumkap? district, which had a sizeable Armenian population; the Balat district, which had a sizeable Jewish population; the Fener district, which had a sizeable Greek population; and some neighbourhoods in the Nisantas? and Beyoglu districts that had sizeable Levantine populations. Very few remain in these districts, as they either emigrated or moved to other districts. In some quarters, such as Kuzguncuk, an Armenian church sits next to a synagogue, and on the other side of the road a Greek Orthodox church is found beside a mosque.
The seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church and first patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox communion, is located in the Fener (Phanar) district. Also based in Istanbul are the archbishop of the Turkish-Orthodox community, an Armenian archbishop, and the Turkish Grand-Rabbi. A number of places reflect past movements of different communities into Istanbul, most notably Arnavutkoy (Albanian village), Polonezkoy (Polish village) and Yenibosna (New Bosnia).
The Muslims are by far the largest religious group in Istanbul. Among them, the Sunnis form the most populous sect, while a number of the local Muslims are Alevis. In 2007 there were 2,944 active mosques in Istanbul.
Istanbul was the final seat of the Islamic Caliphate, between 1517 and 1924, when the Caliphate was dissolved and its powers were handed over to the Turkish Parliament. On 2 September 1925, the tekkes and tarikats were banned, as their activities were deemed incompatible with the characteristics of the secular democratic Republic of Turkey; particularly with the secular education system and the laicist state's control over religious affairs through the Religious Affairs Directorate. Most followers of Sufism and other forms of Islamic mysticism practiced clandestinely afterwards, and some of these sects still boast numerous followers. To avoid the still active prohibition, these organisations represent themselves as "cultural associations."
The city has been the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the 4th century AD, and continues to serve as the seat of some other Orthodox churches, such as the Turkish Orthodox Church and the Armenian Patriarchate. The city was formerly also the seat of the Bulgarian Exarchate, before its autocephaly was recognised by other Orthodox churches.
The everyday life of the Christians, particularly the Greeks and Armenians living in Istanbul changed significantly following the bitter conflicts between these ethnic groups and the Turks during the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which began in the 1820s and continued for a century. The conflicts reached their culmination in the decade between 1912 and 1922; during the Balkan Wars, the First World War and the Turkish War of Independence. The Christian population declined from 450,000 to 240,000 between 1914 and 1927. Today, most of Turkey's remaining Greek and Armenian minorities live in or near Istanbul. The number of the local Turkish Armenians in Istanbul today amount to approximately 45,000 (not including the nearly 40,000 Armenian workers in Turkey who came from Armenia after 1991 and mostly live and work in Istanbul); while the Greek community, which amounted to 150,000 citizens in 1924, currently amounts to approximately 4,000 citizens. There are also 60,000 Istanbulite Greeks who currently live in Greece but continue to retain their Turkish citizenship. The Sephardic Jews have lived in the city for over 500 years. They fled the Iberian Peninsula during the Spanish Inquisition of 1492, when they were forced to convert to Christianity after the fall of the Moorish Kingdom of Andalucia. The Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II (1481–1512) sent a sizable fleet to Spain under the command of Kemal Reis to save the Sephardic Jews. At that point in the Caliphate's history it was a beacon of tolerance compared to most of Christendom. More than 200,000 Jews fled first to Tangier, Algiers, Genova, and Marseille, later to Salonica, and finally to Istanbul. The Sultan granted over 93,000 of these Spanish Jews to take refuge in the Ottoman Empire. Another large group of Sephardic Jews came from southern Italy, which was under Spanish control. The Italyan Sinagogu (Italian Synagogue) in Galata is mostly frequented by the descendants of these Italian Jews in Istanbul, where more than 20,000 Sephardic Jews still remain today. There are about 20 synagogues, the most important of them being the Neve Shalom Synagogue inaugurated in 1951, in the Beyoglu quarter.
Apart from being the largest city and former political capital of the country, Istanbul has always been the centre of Turkey's economic life because of its location as a junction of international land and sea trade routes. Istanbul is also Turkey's largest industrial centre. It employs approximately 20% of Turkey's industrial labour and contributes 38% of Turkey's industrial workspace. Istanbul and its surrounding province produce cotton, fruit, olive oil, silk, and tobacco. Food processing, textile production, oil products, rubber, metal ware, leather, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, glass, machinery, automotive, transport vehicles, paper and paper products, and alcoholic drinks are among the city's major industrial products. According to Forbes magazine, Istanbul had a total of 35 billionaires as of March 2008, ranking fourth in the world.
Originally established as the Ottoman Stock Exchange in 1866, and reorganised to its current structure at the beginning of 1986, the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) is the sole securities market of Turkey. During the 19th century and early 20th century, Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street) in Galata was the financial centre of the Ottoman Empire, where the headquarters of the Ottoman Central Bank and the Ottoman Stock Exchange (1866) were located. Bankalar Caddesi continued to be Istanbul's main financial district until the 1990s, when most Turkish banks began moving their headquarters to the modern central business districts of Levent and Maslak. In 1995, the Istanbul Stock Exchange moved to its current building in the Istinye quarter.
Today, the city generates 55% of Turkey's trade and 45% of the country's wholesale trade, and generates 21.2% of Turkey's gross national product. Istanbul contributes 40% of all taxes collected in Turkey and produces 27.5% of Turkey's national product. In 2005 the City of Istanbul had a GDP of $133 billion. In 2005 companies based in Istanbul made exports worth $41,397,000,000 and imports worth $69,883,000,000; which corresponded to 56.6% and 60.2% of Turkey's exports and imports, respectively, in that year. Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots of Turkey. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist oriented industries in the city, catering to both vacationers and visiting professionals. In 2006 a total of 23,148,669 tourists visited Turkey, most of whom entered the country through the airports and seaports of Istanbul and Antalya. The total number of tourists who entered Turkey through Ataturk International Airport and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Istanbul reached 5,346,658, rising from 4,849,353 in 2005. Istanbul is also one of the world's major conference destinations and is an increasingly popular choice for the world's leading international associations.
Istanbul has two international airports: The larger one is the Ataturk International Airport located in the Yesilkoy district on the European side, about 24 kilometres west from the city centre. When it was first built, the airport was situated at the western edge of the metropolitan area but now lies within the city bounds. The smaller one is the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport located in the Kurtkoy district on the Asian side, close to the Istanbul Park GP Racing Circuit. It is situated approximately 20 kilometres east of the Asian side and 45 kilometres east of the European city centre.
Sea transport is vital for Istanbul, as the city is practically surrounded by sea on all sides: the Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. Many Istanbulites live on the Asian side of the city but work on the European side (or vice-versa) and the city's famous commuter ferries form the backbone of the daily transition between the two parts of the city – even more so than the two suspension bridges that span the Bosphorus. The commuter ferries, along with the high speed catamaran Seabus (Deniz Otobusu), also form the main connection between the city and the Princes' Islands.
The first steam ferries appeared on the Bosphorus in 1837 and were operated by private sector companies. On 1 January 1851, the Sirket-i Hayriye (literally the Goodwill Company, as the Istanbul Ferry Company was originally called) was established by the Ottoman state. The Sirket-i Hayriye continued to operate the city's landmark commuter ferries until the early years of the Republican period, when they went under the direction of Turkiye Denizcilik Isletmeleri (Turkish State Maritime Lines). Since March 2006, Istanbul's traditional commuter ferries are operated by Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri (Istanbul Sea Buses), which also operates the high speed catamaran Seabus.
IDO (Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri – Istanbul Sea Buses) was established in 1987 and operates the high speed catamaran Seabuses that run between the European and Asian parts of Istanbul—and also connect the city with the Princes' Islands and other destinations in the Sea of Marmara. The Yenikap? High Speed Car Ferry Port on the European side, and the Pendik High Speed Car Ferry Port on the Asian side, are where the high speed catamaran "car ferries" are based. The car ferries that operate between Yenikap? (on the European side of Istanbul) and Band?rma reduce the driving time between Istanbul and Izmir and other major destinations on Turkey's Aegean coast by several hours; while those that operate between Yenikap? or Pendik (on the Asian side of Istanbul) and Yalova significantly reduce the driving time between Istanbul and Bursa or Antalya. The port of Istanbul is the most important one in the country. The old port on the Golden Horn serves primarily for personal navigation, while Karakoy port in Galata is used by the large cruise liners. Regular services as well as cruises from both Karakoy and Eminonu exist to several port cities in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Istanbul's main cargo port is located in the Harem district on the Asian side of the city. Istanbul also has several marinas of varying size for personal navigation, the largest of which are the Atakoy Marina on the European side and Kalam?s Marina on the Asian side.
The State Road D.100 and the European route E80, the Trans European Motorway (TEM) O-3are the two main motorway connections between Europe and Turkey. The motorway network around Istanbul is well developed and is constantly being extended. Motorways lead east to Ankara and west to Edirne. There are also two express highways circling the city. The older one, the O-1, is mostly used for inner city traffic; while the more recent one, the O-2, is mostly used by intercity or intercontinental traffic.
The Bosphorus Bridge on the O-1 and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge on the O-2 establish the motorway connection between the European and the Asian sides of the Bosphorus. The southern and northern shores of the Golden Horn, an inlet of the Bosphorus on the European side of the city, are connected through the Galata Bridge, the Ataturk Bridge and the Halic Bridge; the latter also being a part of the O-1 motorway network.
The Bosphorus Bridge, one of the busiest bridges in the world. Buyukdere Avenue is the main artery that runs through the central business districts of Levent and Maslak on the European side, and is also accessible through a number of subway stations. At the point where the O-1 motorway junctions and tunnels between the quarters of Gayrettepe and Zincirlikuyu come together, Buyukdere Avenue connects with Barbaros Boulevard, which descends towards the ferry port of Besiktas. There it connects with the coastal highway that runs along the European shore of the Bosphorus, from Eminonu in the south to Sar?yer in the north.
In 1883, a Belgian entrepreneur, Georges Nagelmackers, began a rail service between Paris and Istanbul, using a steamship to ferry passengers from Varna to Constantinople. In 1889, a rail line was completed going directly from Istanbul to Bucharest, making the whole journey via land possible. The route was known as the Orient Express, made even more famous by the works of Agatha Christie and Graham Greene.
Today, the Sirkeci Terminal of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), which was originally opened in 1890 as the terminus of the Orient Express, is the terminus of all the lines on the European side and the main connection node of the Turkish railway network with the rest of Europe.
Currently, international connections are provided by the line running between Istanbul and Thessaloniki, Greece, and the Bosphorus Express serving daily between Sirkeci and Bucharest, Romania. Lines to Sofia, Belgrade, Budapest are established over the Bosphorus Express connection to Bucharest.
Beyond the Bosphorus, the Haydarpasa Terminal on the Asian side serves lines running several times daily to Ankara, and less frequently to other destinations in Anatolia.
The railway networks on the European and Asian sides are currently connected by the train ferry across the Bosphorus, which will be replaced by an underwater tunnel connection with the completion of the Marmaray project, scheduled for 2012. Marmaray (Bosphorus Rail Tunnel) will also connect the metro lines on the European and Asian parts of the city. Inaugurated in 1908, the Haydarpasa Terminal was originally opened as the terminus of the Istanbul-Konya-Baghdad and Istanbul-Damascus-Medina railways.
A suburban railway line runs between the main train station of the European part, the Sirkeci Terminal, and the Halkal? district towards the west of the city centre, with 18 stations along its 30 km length. A single trip takes 48 minutes. Another suburban line runs on the Anatolian part from the main train station, the Haydarpasa Terminal, to Gebze at the eastern end of the city. The 44 km long line has 28 stations and the trip takes 65 minutes. 720,000 passengers use the urban rail lines on the European side of the city every day.
Trams first entered service in Istanbul on 3 September 1869, at the Tophane – Ortakoy line. In 1871 the Azapkap? – Galata; Aksaray – Yedikule; Aksaray – Topkap?; and Eminonu – Aksaray lines entered service. Other lines that entered service in the late 19th century included the Voyvoda Caddesi – Kabristan Sokag? – Tepebas? – Taksim – Pangalt? – Sisli line; the Bayezid – Sehzadebas? line; the Fatih – Edirnekap? – Galatasaray – Tunel line; and the Eminonu – Bahcekap? line. Since 1939 the trams of the city are operated by the IETT. On 12 August 1961, the historic red trams of Istanbul were removed from the city's European side; and on 14 November 1966, they were removed from the city's Asian side. Towards the end of 1990, replicas of these historic red trams were put in service along the Istiklal Avenue between Taksim and Tunel, which is a single 1.6 km-long (1640 m) line. On 1 November 2003, another nostalgic tram line (T3) was reopened on the Anatolian part of Istanbul between Kad?koy and Moda. It has 10 stations on a 2.6 km long route. The trip takes 21 minutes.
A fast tram (T1) was put in service in 1992 on standard gauge track with modern cars, connecting Sirkeci with Topkap?. The line was extended on one end from Topkap? to Zeytinburnu in March 1994, and on the other end from Sirkeci to Eminonu in April 1996. On 30 January 2005 it was extended from Eminonu to F?nd?kl?, crossing the Golden Horn through the Galata Bridge for the first time after 44 years. A final extension to Kabatas was opened in June 2006. The line has 24 stations on a length of 14 km. Service was initially operated with 22 LRT vehicles built by ABB, now reassigned to other lines; while stations were provided with temporary high platforms. These vehicles were replaced by 55 low-floor Bombardier Flexity Swift trams in 2003. An entire trip takes 42 minutes. The daily transport capacity is 155,000 passengers. The amount of investment totaled US$110 million. In September 2006, a second tram line (T2) was added, running west from Zeytinburnu to Bagc?lar. Service on this line is operated with 14 ABB LRT cars. Stations have high platforms at the level of the car floor.
Istanbul is served by two underground funicular railways, of very different ages and styles. The older of these lines is the Tunel (1875). Inaugurated on 17 January 1875, the Tunel is the second-oldest subterranean urban rail line in the world after the London Underground (1863) (arguably third in the world, if one counts Brooklyn, New York's abandoned Atlantic Avenue Tunnel) and the first subterranean urban rail line in continental Europe; though the first full subway line with multiple underground stations in continental Europe was the Line 1 of the Budapest Metro (1896). The Tunel is 573m long with an altitude difference of 60 m and no intermediate stations between Karakoy and Tunel Square. It has been continuously in service since 1875. Two trains run on a single rail every 3.5 minutes, and a trip takes 1.5 minutes. Making 64,800 trips, totaling 37,066 kilometres a year, the Tunel carries 15,000 passengers per day.
A second funicular line, the Kabatas-Taksim Funicular, entered service on 29 June 2006, connecting Kabatas and Taksim. This system connects the Seabus station and the tram stop in Kabatas to the metro station at Taksim Square. It is about 600 meters long and climbs approximately 60 meters in 110 seconds, carrying 9,000 passengers per day.
The Istanbul LRT is a light rail transit system consisting of 2 lines. The first line (M1) began service on 3 September 1989 between Aksaray and Kartaltepe. The line was further developed step-by-step and reached Ataturk Airport on 20 December 2002. The other line (T4) was opened in 2007 between Edirnekap? and Mescid-i Selam. There are 36 stations, including 12 underground and 3 viaduct stations, on the line's 32 km length. The lines are totally segregated from other traffic, without level crossings, and run underground for 10.4 km. Service is operated with LRT vehicles built by ABB in 1988.
Construction works of the Istanbul Metro (M2) began in 1992 and the first completed section between Taksim and 4. Levent entered service on 16 September 2000. This section of the line is 8.5 km long and has 6 stations. In 2000, there were 8 Alstom-built 4-car train sets in service, which ran every 5 minutes on average and transported 130,000 passengers daily. On 30 January 2009, the first train sets built by Eurotem entered service. Eurotem will build a total of 92 new wagons for the M2 line. As of 30 January 2009, a total of 34 train sets, each with 4 cars, were being used on the M2 line.
A northern extension from 4. Levent to Maslak was opened on 30 January 2009. The southern extension of the M2 line from Taksim to Yenikap?, across the Golden Horn on a bridge and underground through the historic peninsula, has thus far been completed up to the Sishane station in Beyoglu, which also entered service on 30 January 2009. At Yenikap? the M2 network will intersect with the extended light metro and suburban train lines, and with the Marmaray tunnel. At present, the M2 line has 10 stations in service on the European side of the city; while 6 new stations on the European side and 16 new stations on the Asian side are currently under construction. The trip between the Sishane station in Beyoglu and the Ataturk Oto Sanayi station in Maslak is 15.65 km (9.7 mi) long and takes 21 minutes. The total length of the European side of the M2 line will reach 18.36 km (11.4 mi) when all 16 stations from Hac?osman to Yenikap? will be completed; not including the 936 metres long Golden Horn metro bridge, the 0.6 km long Taksim-Kabatas tunnel connection with the Seabus port, the 0.6 km long Yenikap?-Aksaray tunnel connection with the LRT network, and the 13.6 km long Marmaray tunnel.
On the Asian side, construction of the 21.66 km long M2 line from Kad?koy to Kartal continues, which will have a total of 16 stations. The Marmaray tunnel (Bosporus undersea railway tunnel) will connect the metro lines of the Asian and European parts of the city. According to the scheduled construction timeline, the tunnel will enter service in 2013.
Culture and contemporary life
Istanbul is becoming increasingly colourful in terms of its rich social, cultural, and commercial activities. While world famous pop stars fill stadiums, activities like opera, ballet and theatre continue throughout the year. During seasonal festivals, world famous orchestras, chorale ensembles, concerts and jazz legends can be found often playing to a full house. The Istanbul International Film Festival is one of the most important film festivals in Europe, while the Istanbul Biennial is another major event of fine arts.
Annually Istanbul hosts music and opera festivals. These festival are an outgrowth of Turkey's government policy starting in the early 1930s to introduce and instutionalize the teaching and performing of polyphonic music and opera. The policy was implemented using highly acclaimed musicologists, performers, composers, etc. who were at risk in their native Germany. Among them were Paul Hindemith, Licco Amar, Carl Ebert, and Ernst Praetorius. They are part of a music and opera directorate bound to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Istanbul Modern frequently hosts the exhibitions of renowned Turkish and foreign artists. Pera Museum and Sak?p Sabanc? Museum have hosted the exhibitions of world famous artists and are among the most important private museums in the city. The Dogancay Museum – Turkey’s first contemporary art museum – is dedicated almost exclusively to the work of its founder Burhan Dogancay. The Rahmi M. Koc Museum on the Golden Horn is an industrial museum that exhibits historic industrial equipment such as cars and locomotives from the 19th century and early 20th century, as well as boats, submarines, aircraft, and other similar vintage machines from past epochs.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum, established in 1881, is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world. The museum contains more than 1,000,000 archaeological pieces from the Mediterranean basin, the Balkans, Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Istanbul Mosaic Museum contains the late Roman and early Byzantine floor mosaics and wall ornaments of the Great Palace of Constantinople. The nearby Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum displays a vast collection of items from various Islamic civilisations. Sadberk Han?m Museum contains a wide variety of artifacts, dating from the earliest Anatolian civilisations to the Ottomans.
Occasionally, in November, the Silahhane (Armory Hall) of Y?ld?z Palace hosts the Istanbul Antiques Fair, which brings together rare pieces of antiques from the Orient and Occident. The multi-storey Mecidiyekoy Antikac?lar Cars?s? (Mecidiyekoy Antiques Bazaar) in the Mecidiyekoy quarter of Sisli is the largest antiques market in the city, while the Cukurcuma neighbourhood of Beyoglu has rows of antiques shops in its streets. The Grand Bazaar, edificed between 1455–1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror also has numerous antiques shops, along with shops selling jewels, carpets and other items of art and artisanship. Historic and rare books are found in the Sahaflar Cars?s? near Beyaz?t Square, and it is one of the oldest book markets in the world, and has continuously been active in the same location since the late Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
Live shows and concerts are hosted at a number of locations including historical sites such as the Hagia Irene, Rumeli Fortress, Yedikule Castle, the courtyard of Topkap? Palace, and Gulhane Park; as well as the Ataturk Cultural Center, Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall and other open air and modern theatre halls.
A significant culture has been developed around what is known as a Hamam, the Turkish word for a Turkish Bath. It was a culture of leisure during the Ottoman period, one of the finest example being the Cemberlitas Hamam? (1584) in Istanbul, located on the Cemberlitas (Column of Constantine) Square. Another fine example from the 17th Century is the Galatasaray Hamam?, located on the Beyoglu district, known for the quality of service and its cleanliness. In the Ottoman Empire, many Hamams were also actually build adjacent to mosques, as part of the "kulliye" (complex). A very fine example to this is the Hamam of the K?l?c Ali Pasa Mosque built by Mimar Sinan.
Recently, old beaches have reopened in the city. The most popular places for swimming in the city are in Bak?rkoy, Kucukcekmece, Sar?yer and the Bosphorus. Outside the city are the Marmara Sea's Princes' Islands, Silivri and Tuzla; as well as Kilyos and Sile on the Black Sea.
The Princes' Islands (Adalar) are a group of islands where motor transportation is prohibited, located in the Marmara Sea, south of the Kartal and Pendik districts. Pine and stone-pine wooden neoclassical and art nouveau-style Ottoman era summer mansions from the 19th century and early 20th century, horse-drawn carriages and seafood restaurants make them a popular destination. They can be reached by commuter ferries or high-speed catamaran Seabus (Deniz otobusu) from Eminonu and Bostanc?. Of the nine islands, only five are settled.
Sile is a distant and well-known Turkish seaside resort on the Black Sea, 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Istanbul, where unspoiled white sand beaches can be found. Kilyos is a small calm seaside resort not far from the northern European entrance of the Bosphorus at the Black Sea. The place has good swimming possibilities and has become popular in the recent years among the inhabitants of Istanbul as a place for excursions. Kilyos offers a beach park with seafood restaurants and night clubs, being particularly active in the summer with many night parties and live concerts on the beach.
Istanbul has numerous historic shopping centers, such as the Grand Bazaar (1461), Mahmutpasa Bazaar (1462) and the Egyptian Bazaar (1660). The first modern shopping mall in Turkey was Galleria Atakoy (1987), which was followed by dozens of others in the later decades, such as Akmerkez (1993), which is the only mall to win both "Europe's Best" and "World's Best" awards by the ICSC; Metrocity (2003); Cevahir Mall (2005), which is the largest mall in Europe; and Kanyon Mall (2006), which won the 2006 Cityscape Architectural Review Award for its interesting design. Istinye Park (2007) and City's Nisantas? (2008) are two new malls that target high-end consumers and are almost exclusively dedicated to world-famous fashion brands.
Along with the traditional Turkish restaurants, many European and Far Eastern restaurants and numerous other cuisines are also thriving in the city. Most of the city's historic winehouses (meyhane in Turkish) and pubs are located in the areas around Istiklal Avenue in Beyoglu. The 19th century Cicek Pasaj? (literally Flower Passage in Turkish, or Cite de Pera in French) on Istiklal Avenue, which has many historic meyhanes, pubs and restaurants, was built by Hristaki Zografos Efendi at the former site of the Naum Theatre and was inaugurated in 1876. The famous Nevizade Street, which has rows of historic meyhanes next to each other, is also in this area.
Other historic pubs are found in the areas around Tunel Pasaj? and the nearby Asmal?mescit Sokag?. Some historic neighbourhoods around Istiklal Avenue have recently been recreated, with differing levels of success; such as Cezayir Sokag? near Galatasaray Lisesi, that has rows of pubs, cafes and restaurants playing live music.
Istanbul is also famous for its historic seafood restaurants, as an example, Kumkap? has a pedestrian-only area that is dedicated to fish restaurants. Some 30 fish restaurants are found there, many of them among the best of the City. Also, many of the most popular seafood restaurants are found along the shores of the Bosphorus and by the Marmara Sea shore towards the south of the city. The largest of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara (namely Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and K?nal?ada) and Anadolu Kavag? near the northern entrance of the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea (close to Yoros Castle, which was also known as the Genoese Castle due to Genoa's possession of it in the mid-15th century) also have many historic seafood restaurants.
There are many night clubs, pubs, restaurants and taverns with live music in the city. The night clubs, restaurants and bars increase in number and move to open air spaces in the summer. The areas around Istiklal Avenue, Nisantas?, Bebek and Kad?koy offer all sorts of cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs as well as art galleries, theaters and cinemas. Babylon and Nu Pera in Beyoglu are popular night clubs both in the summer and in the winter.
The most popular open air summer time seaside night clubs are found on the Bosphorus, such as Sortie, Reina and Anjelique in the Ortakoy district. Q Jazz Bar in Ortakoy offers live jazz music in a stylish environment.
Venues such as Istanbul Arena in Maslak and Kurucesme Arena on the Bosphorus frequently host the live concerts of famous singers and bands from all corners of the world. Parkorman in Maslak hosted the Isle of MTV Party in 2002 and is a popular venue for live concerts and rave parties in the summer.
The first Turkish newspaper, Takvim-i Vekayi, was printed on 1 August 1831 in the Bab?ali (Bab-? Ali, meaning The Sublime Porte) district. Bab?ali became the main centre for print media. Istanbul is also the printing capital of Turkey with a wide variety of domestic and foreign periodicals expressing diverse views, and domestic newspapers are extremely competitive. Most nationwide newspapers are based in Istanbul, with simultaneous Ankara and Izmir editions. Major newspapers with their headquarters in Istanbul include Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Turkiye, Aksam, Bugun, Star, Dunya, Tercuman, Gunes, Vatan, Posta, Takvim, Vakit, Yeni Safak, Fanatik and Turkish Daily News. There are also numerous local and national TV and radio stations located in Istanbul, such as CNBC-e, CNN Turk, MTV Turkiye, Fox Turkiye, Fox Sports Turkiye, NTV, Samanyolu TV, Kanal D, ATV, Show TV, Star TV, Cine5, SKY Turk, TGRT Haber, Kanal 7, Kanal Turk, Flash TV and many others. In the city of Istanbul, there are over a hundred FM-radio stations.
During the Roman and Byzantine periods, the most important sporting events were the quadriga chariot races that were held at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which had a capacity to accommodate more than 100,000 spectators. Today, sports like football, basketball and volleyball are very popular in the city. In addition to Besiktas, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, which field teams in multiple sports, several other clubs have also excelled in particular team sports; such as Efes Pilsen, Fenerbahce Ulker, Galatasaray Cafe Crown and Besiktas Cola Turka in basketball; or Eczac?bas?, Vak?fbank and Fenerbahce in volleyball.
The Ataturk Olympic Stadium, the largest multi-purpose stadium in Turkey, is a 5-star UEFA stadium and a first-class venue for track and field; having reached the highest required standards set by the International Olympic Committee and sports federations such as the IAAF, FIFA and UEFA. The stadium hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final. The Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, home of Fenerbahce, which is also a 5-star UEFA stadium, hosted the 2009 UEFA Cup Final that went down to history as the last Final of the UEFA Cup football tournament. The UEFA Cup will be replaced by the UEFA Europa League starting from the 2009-2010 season.
The Sinan Erdem Dome, the largest multi-purpose indoor arena in Turkey, hosted the Final of the 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championship, and will also be the venue for the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships and the 2012 FINA Short Course World Championships. The Abdi Ipekci Arena hosted the Final of EuroBasket 2001, and was also the venue for the 1992 Euroleague Final Four.
Istanbul hosts several annual motorsports events, such as the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix, the MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey, the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the GP2 and the Le Mans Series 1,000 km races at the Istanbul Park GP Racing Circuit. From time to time Istanbul also hosts the Turkish leg of the F1 Powerboat Racing on the Bosphorus. Several annual sailing and yacht races take place on the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. The Golden Horn is where the rowing races take place. Major clubs like Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas, and major universities such as the Bosphorus University have rowing teams. Air racing is new to the city. On 29 July 2006, Istanbul hosted the 5th leg of the spectacular Red Bull Air Race World Series, as well as the 4th leg on 2 June 2007, in both cases above the Golden Horn.
Personal sports like golf, horse riding and tennis are gaining popularity as the city hosts international tournaments such as the WTA Istanbul Cup. For aerobics and bodybuilding, numerous fitness clubs are available. The Paintball sport has recently gained popularity and is practiced by two large clubs in the proximity of Istanbul. Martial arts and other Eastern disciplines and practices such as Aikido and Yoga can be exercised in several centers across the city. Istanbul also hosts the annual MTB races in the nearby Belgrad Forest and Buyukada Island. Two of the most prominent cycling teams of Turkey, namely the Scott/Marintek MTB Team and the Kron/Sektor Bikes/Efor Bisiklet MTB Team, are from Istanbul.