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W O N D E R S  O F  T U R KE Y

Eid Al Adha Package

8 Nights & 9 Days


Travel Dates : 12-20 October 2013



Departure with Pegasus Airlines from Dubai Airport (Check in time will be 3 Hours prior to the departure of the flight) and arrival to Istanbul. Panoramic city tour (Half Day); Tour of "Sultan Ahmet Center", the heart of the "Old City". Blue Mosque, facing Hagia Sophia , Obelisk , Hippodrome. Check in and Overnight at your hotel .



After breakfast , Departure from Istanbul to Cappadocia. On the way Lunch in a Restaurant . Afternoon arrive to Cappadocia.. Overnight stay at the hotel in Cappadocia.



After breakfast, visit Devrent Valley where various types of fairy chimneys are abundant. We will walk through this amazing valley. Thereafter visit Pasabagi (Monk's Valley) with multiple stems and caps, peculiar to this area. After visiting Pasabagi, drive to Avanos which is known for the pottery, a craft dating back to the Hittite period. The red clay which is worked by local craftsmen comes from the residue in the Kizilirmak river, the longest river of Turkey. Further to the time for lunch proceed to Goreme Open Air Museum to visit the churches, chapels and monasteries carved into the fairy chimneys from the 10th to the 13th centuries with frescos painted on the walls. Thereafter time to take photos in the neighboring valleys before going back to the hotels. Overnight stay at the hotel in Cappadocia.



After breakfast, transfer to Pamukkale, Today’s ride will be fairly long and tiring due to the long distance between Cappadocia and Pamukkale and lack of convenient lodging location. Drive to Konya to visit to the Mausoleum of Mevlana, the world-wide famous mystic figure. Then continue on to Pamukkale. Overnight stay at the hotel in Pamukkale. (Lunch will be provided in Konya )



After breakfast , Tour the ruins of Hierapolis including the magnificently preserved cemetery "Necropolis", the Main Street and Gates, the Thermal Baths, the Roman Theatre and the Museum. In the afternoon tour Aphrodisias, the city of Aphrodite; visit the Museum, the Temple of Aphrodite, the Theatre, the Stadium, the Agora, the Hadrian Baths, the Odeon, and the Bishop's Palace. Proceed to the hotel in Kusadasi for overnight. Overnight stay at the hotel in Kusadasi. (Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant).



After breakfast, Morning tour to Ephesus area with Artemis Temple, Ephesus Antique City (Hillside Houses are excluded; entrance requires additional admission fee), one of the most popular ancient sites of Turkey with many acres of carefully excavated ruins; Virgin Mary’s House, where St. Mary is supposed to spend her last years together with St. John. Selcuk Ephesus Museum. Time for shopping. Overnight stay at the hotel in Kusadasi.



After breakfast, transfer back to Istanbul , Today’s ride will be fairly long and tiring due to the long distance between Kusadas? and Istanbul . Lunch in Local restaurant in Bursa .Overnight stay at the hotel in Istanbul.



After a buffet breakfast , free time or you can take an optional tour. Overnight stay at the hotel.



After breakfast check out from hotel . Free Time till afternoon. Transfer to airport. Departure with Pegasus Airlines from Istanbul Airport , Arrive in Dubai Airport.




1) Bursa Full Day Tour: (Includes Lunch) : 390 Aed / 85 Euro / 110 Usd

2) Princess Island : ( Includes Lunch ): 275 Aed / 60 Euro / 75 Usd

3) Turkish Night : (Incl. Dinner with Limited Local drinks): 255 Aed / 55 Euro / 70 Usd

4) Bosphorus+Topkapi Palace Tour : ( Includes Lunch ): 300 Aed / 65 Euro / 85 Usd







1 Night

3* Ephesus Hotel OR Similar


2 Nights

4* Dinler Hotel OR Similar


1 Night

4* Richmond Hotel OR Similar


2 Nights

3* Villa Konak Hotel OR Similar


2 Nights

3* Ephesus Hotel OR Similar


3154 Aed


4504 Aed

3RD PERSON (Adult/Child)

2804 Aed



  • Return airfare ticket for Dubai - Istanbul - Dubai by Pegasus Airlines Charter
  • 8 night’s accommodation with breakfast.
  • Return airport / hotel / airport transfers in Istanbul.
  • Bus Transfers for Istanbul-Cappadocia-Pamukkale-Kusadasi-Istanbul
  • Sightseeing tours.
  • Professional guidance services.
  • All hotel taxes.


  • AED 595 - Airport Taxes & Handling Fee
  • Visa (If needed depending on the nationality being hold).
  • All personal expenses and hotel extras.
  • Guide and driver tips.
* Package Rates Are Subject To Availability.
* All rates are UAE Dirham.



Postal address:
World Trade Center Building 
8th Floor P.O.Box:9221 
Telephone:+971 4 331 47 88
Fax:+971 4 331 73 17

Working Hours:
Sunday - Thursday
08.30 -14.30

Ordinary Passport Holders from the following countries require a visa to enter Turkey:
Afghanistan*, Algeria, Angola, Antigua-Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh**, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Greek Cypriot Administration, Haiti, Hungary, India*, Indonesia***, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Northern Mariana Islands, Norway**, Oman, Pakistan**, Palau Republic, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar*, Russian Federation, Rwanda, St Christopher Nevis, St Lucia, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia**, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surinam, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Western Samoa, Yemen, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
* Diplomatic passport holders are exempt from visa for their travels up to 90 days.
** Official passport holders are exempted from visa for their travels to Turkey for up to 90 days.
*** Official passport holders are exempt from visa for their travels to Turkey for up to 60 days.

Ordinary Passport Holders from the following Countries are exempt from visa for their travels up to 90 days:
* Ordinary and official “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC ( SAR ) Passport” holders are exempt from visa for their travels up to 90 days. Hong Kong citizens who have “British National Overseas. Passport” are subject to visa and they can obtain three month-multiple entry visas at the Turkish border gates. Holders of “Certificate of Identity-Hong Kong ( C.I. )” and “Document of Identity for Visa Purposes-Hong Kong( D.I. )” must get their visas from the Turkish representations abroad.

Ordinary Passport Holders from the following Countries are exempt from visa for their travels up to 60 days:
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia

Ordinary Passport Holders from the following Countries are exempt from visa for their travels up to 30 days:
Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia*, Macao Special Administration, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,
Ordinary and official passport holders from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are exempt from visa.
* Diplomatic and service passport holders are exempt from visa requirement for their travels up to 90 (ninety) days.

Note: The above information is for tourists. If you are going to study or work in Turkey, you must obtain appropriate visa from Turkish diplomatic/consular missions, prior to proceeding to Turkey.

What documents will be required?
The applicant is required to submit the following documents while applying in person:
– Valid travel document (passport) (It should be valid at least three months longer than the expiry date of the requested visa),
– Completed visa application form, 
– One passport size photograph of the applicant (It should be affixed on the top left side of the visa application form),
– Documents supporting the purpose and the conditions of the planned visit (e.g. letter of invitation, travel itinerary, round trip ticket, hotel reservation with payment guarantee etc.),
– Guarantees regarding means of subsistence,
– Non-refundable visa processing fee (the amount differs depending on the nationality and visa type),
– If the person applies from a country other than his/her homeland, then he/she should also submit his/her valid residence permit or any document that proves he/she legally stays in that country.
– If the person applies for a business visa, an invitation letter from the counterpart company is also required in addition to the above mentioned documents.
Note: Please be informed that the requested documents may vary according to the local conditions where the Turkish Embassy/Consulate is based.
Note: If the relevant Turkish Embassy/Consulate exceptionally receives the visa applications by mail or by courier service, the applicant must send the above mentioned documents and also a pre-paid or self-stamped return envelope (DHL, Fed Ex, Express, UPS, or some sort of insured/certified mail is highly recommended, since the original passport will be returned inside that envelope). Please contact with the nearest Turkish Embassy/Consulate to learn whether they receive the applications by mail or not.
If the person prefers to obtain the entry visa at a Turkish border gate, then he/she will be required to have the following documents:
– Valid travel document (passport) (It should be valid at least three months longer than the expiry date of the visa requested.)
– Non-refundable visa processing fee (the amount differs depending on the nationality and visa type)
Only holders of passports from the following countries can apply for entry visa at a Turkish border gate:
USA, Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Armenia, Estonia, Greek Cypriot Adm., Netherlands, Hong Kong (BNO), United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Lithuania, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Fed., Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Jordan, Malta, Oman, UAE (*), Qatar (*), Kuwait (*), Saudi Arabia (*), Antigua – Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Maldives, St. Christopher Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Mauritius, Kosovo.

Time required to issue a visa:
Dependent on nationality of applicant. Minimum of 3 working days but some applications may be referred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara which may take much longer.

How do I apply?
Passport holders from the following countries can apply for tourist visas at the Turkish border gate: 
USA, Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Armenia, Estonia, Greek Cypriot Adm., Netherlands, Hong Kong (BNO), United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Lithuania, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Fed., Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Jordan, Malta, Oman, UAE (*), Qatar (*), Kuwait (*), Saudi Arabia (*), Antigua – Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Maldives, St. Christopher Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Mauritius, Kosovo.
Alternatively you can apply to your nearest Consulate of Consular section at Embassy; see Contact Addresses section.

What is the cost of a visa?
Tourist/Work Single-entry visa; Tourist/Work Multiple-entry visa; Education, ResidenceStudy and Long Term Multiple-entry visa; and Transitvisa. Prices vary according to nationality. Some visas must be obtained in advance. Contact the Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy) for the up to date prices (see the link below for embassy contact info);

How long is the visa valid for?
There are two types of visas in the Turkish practice:
1) Entry visa (single entry, multiple entry and entry with special annotations)
2) Transit visa (single and double transit)
– Single entry visa is valid for one year and allows its holder, depending on the nationality and passport type, to stay in Turkey up to three months and to visit the country only one time. 
– Multiple entry visa is valid for up to five years and allows its holder to make multiple visits and, depending on the nationality and passport type he/she can stay one to three months each time he/she enters into Turkey. 
– Transit visa is valid for up to three months and allows the person to travel to another country through transiting the Turkish territory.
If the connecting flight to the third country does not require an overnight stay in Turkey, then no visa is necessary. In other words, Turkey does not issue Airport Transit Visa (ATV).
The passengers of cruise ships are allowed to enter and stay overnight in the port cities of Turkey upon the permission given by local border police authorities. These passengers are not required to obtain an entry visa to Turkey.

Eid Al Adha Offers
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Company Profile

In joining the endeavors of Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) to promote Dubai as a Holiday / Leisure hub, FLY EXPRESS TOURISM was established in the year 2004 and has since flourished as one of the fastest growing Destination Management Company (DMC) in Dubai providing a quality service by our Professional staff that are committed and dedicated to serve the valued clients from all over the world.

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The Dubai Office is being managed under the very dynamic management and their team who assist their valuable passengers to discover the fantastic region.

Since Dubai and the United Arab Emirates is a magical region with white beaches, big shopping malls, iconic architecture and strategic meeting point for business and leisure and we as Fly Express Dubai specializes in MICE Business (Meetings-Incentives-Conferencing-Exhibitions) and organizes many events for world wide well known companies.

Hotel Reservations including all ranks of hotels all over UAE such as Burj Al Arab, Atlantis The Palm, Rixos The Palm, Zabeel Palace etc, Exciting Excursions / Tours such as;

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  • Ferarri The Word Tour
  • Desert Safari Tour
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  • Musandam / Dibba Full Day Tour
  • Hot Air Ballooning Tour
  • Helicopter Rides
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Amsterdam, NL - Hotels
Sleep and dine at the first ‘one to five star’ hotel in the world. Well situated in a revamped 1920s building, it is truly a showcase of Dutch design from facade to interior. Located in the heart of the trendy eastern docklands with views over the water and a huge south-facing terrace. Away from the noise of the city, but still only 5 minutes by tram from Central Station. All 117 rooms rating from 1 to 5 star differ in sizes and interiors, but the high-quality service is the same for everybody: ultra comfortable beds with feather quilts, a well-appointed restaurant with excellent local cuisines, an extensive library of art books and free WIFI.

In addition to the amenities, the hotel’s Cultural Embassy offers various services in communal spaces. Situated above the restaurant, the Cultural Embassy informs guests and interested parties on topics such as art, culture and cultural projects. In conjunction with the Lloyd Hotel the Cultural Embassy, its members organise projects and cultural activities: performances, small exhibitions and presentations. Admission is always free for everybody.
Hotel Corner House Amsterdam is situated in the city centre, a short stroll from Amsterdam Central Station, Dam Square and the Royal Palace. Within less than a 5-minute walk, reach an extensive selection of shops, bars and restaurants, as well as several tram and bus stops. Hotel Corner House Amsterdam is the perfect starting point for the exploration of the city, as well as a good base to come back to. The hotel has both a cafe and a restaurant that is used by locals, hotel guests or just passers-by. Open 7 days a week and 365 days a year, the restaurant offers both dinner and breakfast and its specialties are hutspot, goulash and pancakes.
Famous for John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 'bed-in for peace', Hilton Amsterdam is a short walk from the old city center, Vondelpark, the Concert Hall, Amsterdam's world-famous Van Gogh Museum and the renowned Rijks museum. Hilton Amsterdam, with its waterside garden, is located in the striking center of 'Zuid'. Indulge in a sleek, Dutch-style 33m?/355sq.ft suite with seating and working areas and an access to the Executive Lounge with free breakfast and refreshments. Keep in touch with WIFI access then stretch out on the chaise longue or sofa in a fluffy bathrobe or just relax in the luxurious bathroom.
This 4-star deluxe contemporary hotel is situated in the historic heart of Amsterdam, around the corner from Amsterdam Central Station with a range of public transportation options on its doorstep. The hotel is fully non-smoking and amongst its facilities is a modern restaurant serving international food from breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel offers free use of the fitness area with sauna and access of the hotel's business centre with complimentary use of the internet terminals.
Die Port van Cleve Hotel Amsterdam is ideally situated behind the Nieuwe Kerk church and close to Dam Square and the Royal Palace. In the near vicinity of the hotel are a wide variety of bars, restaurants, shops and several tourist attractions. Furthermore, several nearby tram and bus stops and the public transport connections from Amsterdam Central Station allow for a quick and easy transport across the entire city.
Sofitel Legend Grand Amsterdam offers 5-star luxury in the unique ambiance of historical Amsterdam. From 1578 the building was frequently visited by legendary persons like the French Queen Maria de' Medici, Princess Royal Maria Stuart of England and William of Orange, ancestor of the present Dutch Royal family. The hotel, furnished with French elegance and grandeur, still welcomes a variety of prominent visitors, from the trendy Amsterdam elite to royal brides and famous international movie stars. In each of the rooms, the restaurant, the lobby and the beautiful inner garden, heritage and luxury captivates and seduces into visiting. The Grand is the archetype of a location where traveling and sojourning will always be fashionable. In 2010 The Grand became the second Sofitel Legend address in the world and the first Legend hotel in Europe.
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Istanbul, Turkey
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.[126] 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.
Light Rail
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.[130] 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
Fine arts
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. Turkish baths

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.[146][147] 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.
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Amsterdam, NL

The capital and largest city of the Netherlands, with an urban population of 767,457 and a metropolitan population of 2,158,592. The city is in the province of North Holland in the west of the country. It comprises the northern part of the Randstad, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe, with a population of approximately 8.1 million according to larger estimates.

Its name is derived from Amstelredamme, indicative of the city's origin: a dam in the river Amstel. Settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age, a result of its innovative developments in trade. During that time, the city was the leading centre for finance and diamonds. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city expanded, and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were formed. The 17th-century canals of Amsterdam (in Dutch: 'Grachtengordel'), located in the heart of Amsterdam, were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2010.

The city is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city. In 2010, Amsterdam was ranked 13th globally on quality of living by Mercer, and previously ranked 3rd in innovation by 2thinknow in the Innovation Cities Index 2009.

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world, is located in the city centre. Amsterdam's main attractions, including its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, its red-light district, and its many coffee shops draw more than 3.66 million international visitors annually.



Amsterdam is part of the province of North-Holland and is located in the west of the Netherlands next to the provinces of Utrecht and Flevoland. The river Amstel terminates in the city centre and connects to a large number of canals that eventually terminate in the IJ. Amsterdam is situated 2 metres above sea level. The surrounding land is flat as it is formed of large polders. To the southwest of the city lies a man-made forest called het Amsterdamse Bos. Amsterdam is connected to the North Sea through the long North Sea Canal.

Amsterdam is intensely urbanized, as is the Amsterdam metropolitan area surrounding the city. Comprising 219.4 square kilometres of land, the city proper has 4,457 inhabitants per km2 and 2,275 houses per km2. Parks and nature reserves make up 12% of Amsterdam's land area.



Amsterdam has a derp oceanic climate (Koppen climate classification Cfb), strongly influenced by its proximity to the North Sea to the west, with prevailing north-western winds and gales. Winter temperatures are cool to mild. Amsterdam, as well as most of the North-Holland province, lies in USDA Hardiness zone 9, the northernmost such occurrence in continental Europe. Frosts mainly occur during spells of easterly or northeasterly winds from the inner European continent, from Scandinavia, Russia, or even Siberia. Even then, because Amsterdam is surrounded on three sides by large bodies of water, as well as enjoying a significant heat-island effect, nights rarely fall below ?5 °C (23 °F), while it could easily be ?12 °C (10 °F) in Hilversum, 25 kilometres southeast. Summers are moderately warm but rarely hot. The average daily high in August is 21.8 °C (71.2 °F), and 30 °C (86 °F) or higher is only measured on average on 3 days, placing Amsterdam in AHS Heat Zone 2. Days with measurable precipitation are common, on average 186 days per year. Amsterdam's average annual precipitation is 833 millimetres (32.8 in). Most of this precipitation is in the form of protracted drizzle or light rain, making cloudy and damp days common during the cooler months of October through March. Only the occasional European windstorm brings significant rain in a short period of time, requiring it to be pumped out to higher ground or to the seas around the city.



Amsterdam fans out south from the Amsterdam Centraal railway station. The Damrak is the main street and leads into the street Rokin. The oldest area of the town is known as de Wallen (the quays). It lies to the east of Damrak and contains the city's famous red light district. To the south of de Wallen is the old Jewish quarter of Waterlooplein. The 17th century canals of Amsterdam, known as the Grachtengordel, embraces the heart of the city where homes have interesting gables. Beyond the Grachtengordel are the former working class areas of Jordaan and de Pijp. The Museumplein with the city's major museums, the Vondelpark, a 19th century park named after the Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel, and the Plantage neighbourhood, with the zoo, are also located outside the Grachtengordel.

Several parts of the city and the surrounding urban area are polders. This can be recognized by the suffix -meer which means lake, as in Aalsmeer, Bijlmermeer, Haarlemmermeer, and Watergraafsmeer.



The Amsterdam canal system is the result of conscious city planning. In the early 17th century, when immigration was at a peak, a comprehensive plan was developed that was based on four concentric half-circles of canals with their ends emerging at the IJ bay. Known as the Grachtengordel, three of the canals were mostly for residential development: the Herengracht (Gentlemen's or more accurately Patricians' Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal), and Prinsengracht (Prince's Canal). The fourth and outermost canal is the Singelgracht, which is often not mentioned on maps, because it is an collective name for all canals in the outer ring. The Singelgracht should not be confused with the oldest and most inner canal Singel. The canals served the purposes of defense and water management. The defenses took the form of a moat and earthen dikes, with gates at transit points, but otherwise no masonry superstructures. The original plans have been lost, so historians, such as Ed Taverne, need to speculate on the original intentions: it is thought that the considerations of the layout were purely practical and defensive rather than ornamental.

Construction started in 1613 and proceeded from west to east, across the breadth of the layout, like a gigantic windshield wiper as the historian Geert Mak calls it – and not from the centre outwards, as a popular myth has it. The canal construction in the southern sector was completed by 1656. Subsequently, the construction of residential buildings proceeded slowly. The eastern part of the concentric canal plan, covering the area between the Amstel river and the IJ bay, has never been implemented. In the following centuries, the land was used for parks, senior citizens' homes, theaters, other public facilities, and waterways without much planning. Over the years, several canals have been filled in, becoming streets or squares, such as the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Spui.



Amsterdam has a rich architectural history. The oldest building in Amsterdam is the Oude Kerk (Old Church), at the heart of the Wallen, consecrated in 1306. The oldest wooden building is het Houten Huys at the Begijnhof. It was constructed around 1425 and is one of only two existing wooden buildings. It is also one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Amsterdam. In the 16th century, wooden buildings were razed and replaced with brick ones. During this period, many buildings were constructed in the architectural style of the Renaissance. Buildings of this period are very recognizable, since they have a facade which ends at the top in the shape of a stairway. This is, however, the common Dutch Renaissance style. Amsterdam quickly developed its own Renaissance architecture. These buildings were built according to the principles of the architect Hendrick de Keyser. One of the most striking buildings designed by Hendrick de Keyer is the Westerkerk. In the 17th century baroque architecture became very popular, as it was elsewhere in Europe. This roughly coincided with Amsterdam’s Golden Age. The leading architects of this style in Amsterdam were Jacob van Campen, Philip Vingboons and Daniel Stalpaert.

Philip Vingboons designed splendid merchants' houses throughout the city. A famous building in baroque style in Amsterdam is the Royal Palace on Dam Square. Throughout the 18th century, Amsterdam was heavily influenced by French culture. This is reflected in the architecture of that period. Around 1815, architects broke with the baroque style and started building in different neo-styles. Most Gothic style buildings date from that era and are therefore said to be built in a neo-gothic style. At the end of the 19th century, the Jugendstil or Art Nouveau style became popular and many new buildings were constructed in this architectural style. Since Amsterdam expanded rapidly during this period, new buildings adjacent to the city centre were also built in this style. The houses in the vicinity of the Museum Square in Amsterdam Oud-Zuid are an example of Jugendstil. The last style that was popular in Amsterdam before the modern era was Art Deco. Amsterdam had its own version of the style, which was called the Amsterdamse School. Whole districts were built this style, such as the Rivierenbuurt. A notable feature of the facades of buildings designed in Amsterdamse School is that they are highly decorated and ornate, with oddly shaped windows and doors.

The old city centre is the focal point of all the architectural styles before the end of the 19th century. Jugendstil and Art Deco are mostly found outside the city’s centre in the neighbourhoods built in the early 20th century, although there are also some striking examples of these styles in the city centre. Most historic buildings in the city centre and nearby are houses, such as the famous merchants' houses lining the canals.



Amsterdam is the financial and business capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is currently one of the best European cities in which to locate an International Business. It is ranked fifth in this category and is only surpassed by London, Paris, Frankfurt and Barcelona. Many large corporations and banks have their headquarters in Amsterdam, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Akzo Nobel, Heineken International, ING Group, Ahold, TomTom, Delta Lloyd Group and Philips. KPMG International's global headquarters is located in nearby Amstelveen, where many non-Dutch companies have settled as well due to the fact that surrounding communities allow full land ownership, contrary to Amsterdam's land-lease system.

Though many small offices are still located on the old canals, companies are increasingly relocating outside the city centre. The Zuidas (English: South Axis) has become the new financial and legal hub. The five largest law firms of the Netherlands, a number of Dutch subsidiaries of large consulting firms like Boston Consulting Group and Accenture, and the World Trade Center Amsterdam are also located in Zuidas. There are three other smaller financial districts in Amsterdam. The first is the area surrounding Amsterdam Sloterdijk railway station, where several newspapers like De Telegraaf have their offices. Also, the municipal public transport company (Gemeentelijk Vervoersbedrijf) and the Dutch tax offices (Belastingdienst) are located there. The second Financial District is the area surrounding Amsterdam Arena. The third is the area surrounding Amsterdam Amstel railway station. The tallest building in Amsterdam, the Rembrandt Tower, is situated there, as is the headquarters of Philips.

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange (AEX), nowadays part of Euronext, is the world's oldest stock exchange and is one of Europe's largest bourses. It is situated near Dam Square in the city's centre.



Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.63 million international visitors annually. The number of visitors has been growing steadily over the past decade. This can be attributed to an increasing number of European visitors. Two thirds of the hotels are located in the city's centre. Hotels with 4 or 5 stars contribute 42% of the total beds available and 41% of the overnight stays in Amsterdam. The room occupation rate was 78% in 2006, up from 70% in 2005. The majority of tourists (74%) originate from Europe. The largest group of non-European visitors come from the United States, accounting for 14% of the total. Certain years have a theme in Amsterdam to attract extra tourists. For example, the year 2006 was designated "Rembrandt 400", to celebrate the 400th birthday of Rembrandt van Rijn. Some hotels offer special arrangements or activities during these years. The average number of guests per year staying at the four campsites around the city range from 12,000 to 65,000.


Red light district

De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt, is Amsterdam's largest and most well known red-light district. This neighborhood has become a famous tourist attraction. It consists of a network of roads and alleys containing several hundred small, one-room apartments.



Shops in Amsterdam range from large department stores such as De Bijenkorf founded in 1870 and Maison de Bonneterie a Parisian style store founded in 1889, to small specialty shops. Amsterdam's high-end shops are found in the streets Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat and Cornelis Schuytstraat, which are located in the vicinity of the Vondelpark. One of Amsterdam's busiest high streets is the narrow, medieval Kalverstraat in the heart of the city. Another shopping area is the Negen Straatjes: nine narrow streets within the Grachtengordel, the concentric canal system of Amsterdam. The Negen Straatjes differ from other shopping districts with the presence of a large diversity of privately owned shops.

The city also features a large number of open-air markets such as the Albert Cuypmarkt, Westerstraat-markt, Ten Katemarkt, and Dappermarkt. Some of these markets are held on a daily basis, like the Albert Cuypmarkt and the Dappermarkt. Others, like the Westerstraat-markt, are held on a weekly basis.



Fashion brands like G-star, Gsus, BlueBlood, Iris van Herpen, 10 feet and Warmenhoven & Venderbos, and fashion designers like Mart Visser, Viktor & Rolf, Sheila de Vries, Marlies Dekkers and Frans Molenaar are based in Amsterdam. Modelling agencies Elite Models, Touche models and Tony Jones have opened branches in Amsterdam. Supermodels Yfke Sturm, Doutzen Kroes and Kim Noorda started their careers in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has its garment centre in the World Fashion Center. Buildings which formerly housed brothels in the red light district have been converted to ateliers for young fashion designers.



In the city centre, driving a car is discouraged. Parking fees are expensive, and many streets are closed to cars or are one-way. The local government sponsors carsharing and carpooling initiatives such as Autodelen and

Public transport in Amsterdam mainly consists of (night) bus and tram lines operated by Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf. Regional buses, and some suburban buses, are operated by Connexxion and Arriva. Currently, there are 16 different tramlines. There are currently four metro lines, with a fifth line, the North/South line, under construction. Three free ferries carry pedestrians and cyclists across the IJ to Amsterdam-Noord, and two fare-charging ferries run east and west along the harbour. There are also water taxis, a water bus, a boat sharing operation, electric rental boats (Boaty) and canal cruises, that transport people along Amsterdam's waterways. The A10 ringroad surrounding the city connects Amsterdam with the Dutch national network of freeways. Interchanges on the A10 allow cars to enter the city by transferring to one of the 18 city roads, numbered S101 through to S118. These city roads are regional roads without grade separation, and sometimes without a central reservation. Most are accessible by cyclists. The S100 Centrumring is a smaller ringroad circumnavigating the city's centre.

Amsterdam was intended in 1932 to be the hub, a kind of Kilometre Zero, of the highway system of the Netherlands,[83] with freeways numbered one through eight planned to originate from the city. The outbreak of the Second World War and shifting priorities led to the current situation, where only roads A1, A2, and A4 originate from Amsterdam according to the original plan. The A3 road to Rotterdam was cancelled in 1970 in order to conserve the Groene Hart. Road A8, leading north to Zaandam and the A10 Ringroad were opened between 1968 and 1974.[84] Besides the A1, A2, A4 and A8, several freeways, such as the A7 and A6, carry traffic mainly bound for Amsterdam. Amsterdam is served by ten stations of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways). Five are intercity stops: Sloterdijk, Zuid, Amstel, Bijlmer ArenA and Amsterdam Centraal. The stations for local services are: Lelylaan, RAI, Holendrecht, Muiderpoort and Science Park. Amsterdam Centraal is also an international train station. From the station there are regular services to destinations such as Austria, Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. Among these trains are international trains of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen and the Thalys(Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris-Cologne), CityNightLine, and InterCityExpress.

Eurolines has coaches from Amsterdam Amstel railway station to destinations all over Europe.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is less than 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Central Station. It is the biggest airport in the Netherlands, the fifth largest in Europe, and the twelfth largest in the world in terms of passengers. It handles about 46 million passengers per year and is the home base of four airlines, KLM,, Martinair and Arkefly. Schiphol was, in 2006, the third busiest airport in the world measured by international passengers.



Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world and is a centre of bicycle culture with good facilities for cyclists such as bike paths and bike racks, and several guarded bike storage garages (Fietsenstalling) which can be used for a nominal fee. In 2006, there were about 465,000 bicycles in Amsterdam. Theft is widespread – in 2005, about 54,000 bicycles were stolen in Amsterdam. Bicycles are used by all socio-economic groups because of their convenience, Amsterdam's small size, the 400 km of bike paths, the flat terrain, and the arguable inconvenience of driving an automobile.


Culture and entertainment

During the later part of the 16th century Amsterdam's Rederijkerskamer (Chamber of Rhetoric) organized contests between different Chambers in the reading of poetry and drama. In 1638, Amsterdam opened its first theatre. Ballet performances were given in this theatre as early as 1642. In the 18th century, French theatre became popular. While Amsterdam was under the influence of German music in the 19th century there were few national opera productions; the Hollandse Opera of Amsterdam was built in 1888 for the specific purpose of promoting Dutch opera. In the 19th century, popular culture was centred around the Nes area in Amsterdam (mainly vaudeville and music-hall).[citation needed] The metronome, one of the most important advances in European classical music, was invented here in 1812 by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel. At the end of this century, the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum were built.[citation needed] In 1888, the Concertgebouworkest was established. With the 20th century came cinema, radio and television.[citation needed] Though most studios are located in Hilversum and Aalsmeer, Amsterdam's influence on programming is very strong. Many people who work in the television industry live in Amsterdam. Also, the headquarters of SBS 6 is located in Amsterdam.



The most important museums of Amsterdam are located on het Museumplein (Museum Square), located at the southern side of the Rijksmuseum. It was created in the last quarter of the 19th century on the grounds of the former World Exposition. The northern part of the square is bordered by the very large Rijksmuseum. In front of the Rijksmuseum on the square itself is a long, rectangular, pond. This is transformed into an ice rink in winter. The western part of the square is bordered by the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience and Coster Diamonds. The southern border of the Museum Square is the Van Baerlestraat, which is a major thoroughfare in this part of Amsterdam. The Concertgebouw is situated across this street from the square. To the east of the square are situated a number of large houses, one of which contains the American consulate. A parking garage can be found underneath the square, as well as a supermarket. Het Museumplein is covered almost entirely with a lawn, except for the northern part of the square which is covered with gravel. The current appearance of the square was realized in 1999, when the square was remodeled. The square itself is the most prominent site in Amsterdam for festivals and outdoor concerts, especially in the summer. Plans were made in 2008 to remodel the square again, because many inhabitants of Amsterdam are not happy with its current appearance.

The Rijksmuseum possesses the largest and most important collection of classical Dutch art. It opened in 1885. Its collection consists of nearly one million objects. The artist most associated with Amsterdam is Rembrandt, whose work, and the work of his pupils, is displayed in the Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt's masterpiece the Nightwatch is one of top pieces of art of the museum. It also houses paintings from artists like Van der Helst, Vermeer, Frans Hals, Ferdinand Bol, Albert Cuijp, Van Ruysdael and Paulus Potter. Aside from paintings, the collection consists of a large variety of decorative art. This ranges from Delftware to giant dollhouses from the 17th century. The architect of the gothic revival building was P.J.H. Cuypers. At present, the museum is being expanded, renovated, and a new main entrance for the museum created. Only one wing of the Rijksmuseum is currently open to the public, with a selection of master pieces on display. The full museum will re-open in 2012 or 2013.

Van Gogh lived in Amsterdam for a short while and there is a museum dedicated to his work. The museum is housed in one of the few modern buildings in this area of Amsterdam. The building was designed by Gerrit Rietveld. This building is where the permanent collection is displayed. A new building was added to the museum in 1999. This building, known as the performance wing, was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. Its purpose is to house temporary exhibitions of the museum. Some of Van Gogh's most famous paintings, like the Aardappeleters (The Potato Eaters) and Zonnenbloemen, are present in the collection. The Van Gogh museum is the most visited museum in Amsterdam.

Next to the Van Gogh museum stands the Stedelijk Museum. This is Amsterdam's largest museum concerning modern art. The museum opened its doors at around the same time the Museum Square was created. The permanent collection consists of works of art from artists like Piet Mondriaan, Karel Appel, and Kazimir Malevich. This museum is also currently being renovated and expanded. The main entrance will be relocated from the Paulus Potterstraat to the Museum Square itself. It will be open again to public in the end of 2011.

Amsterdam contains many other museums throughout the city. They range from small museums such as the Verzetsmuseum, the Anne Frank House, and the Rembrandthuis, to the very large, like the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdams Historisch Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam and Joods Historisch Museum.


Performing arts

Pop, rock, and jazz

The Heineken Music Hall is a concert hall located near the Amsterdam ArenA. Its main purpose is to serve as a podium for pop concerts for big audiences. Many famous international artists have performed there. Two other notable venues, Paradiso and the Melkweg are located near the Leidseplein. Both focus on broad programming, ranging from indie rock to hip hop, R&B, and other popular genres. Other more subculturally focused music venues are OCCII, OT301, De Nieuwe Anita, Winston Kingdom and Zaal 100. Jazz has a strong following in Amsterdam, with the Bimhuis being the premier venue.


Electronic Dance Music

The Heineken Music Hall is also host to many Electronic Dance Music festivals, alongside many other venues. Amsterdam is home to Scantraxx, which is one of the largest record labels that produces Hardstyle music, which is very popular in the Netherlands. Armin van Buuren and Tiesto, some of the worlds leading Trance DJ's hail from The Netherlands and perform frequently in Amsterdam. Each year in October, the city hosts the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) which is one of the leading electronic music conferences and one of the biggest club festivals for electronic music in the world. Another popular dance festival is 5daysoff, which takes place in the venues Paradiso and Melkweg. In summer time there are several big outdoor dance parties in or nearby Amsterdam, such as Awakenings, Dance Valley, Mystery Land, Loveland, A Day at the Park, Welcome to the Future, and Valtifest.


Classical music

Amsterdam has a world-class symphony orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Their home is the Concertgebouw, which is across the Van Baerlestraat from the Museum Square. It is considered by critics to be a concert hall with some of the best acoustics in the world. The building contains three halls, Grote Zaal, Kleine Zaal, and Spiegelzaal. Eight hundred concerts per year are performed there for approximately 850,000 patrons. The opera house of Amsterdam is situated adjacent to the city hall. Therefore, the two buildings combined are often called the Stopera. This word is derived from the Dutch words stadhuis (city hall) and opera. This huge modern complex, opened in 1986, lies in the former Jewish neighbourhood at Waterlooplein next to the river Amstel. The Stopera is the homebase of De Nederlandse Opera, Het Nationale Ballet and the Holland Symfonia. Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ is a concert hall, which is situated in the IJ near the central station. Its concerts perform mostly modern classical music. Located adjacent to it, is the Bimhuis, a concert hall for improvised and Jazz music.



The main theatre building of Amsterdam is the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam at the Leidseplein. It is the home base of the Toneelgroep Amsterdam. The current building dates from 1894. Most plays are performed in the Grote Zaal (Great Hall). The normal programme of events encompasses all sorts of theatrical forms. The Stadsschouwburg is currently being renovated and expanded. The third theater space, to be operated jointly with next door Melkweg, will open in late 2009 or early 2010. Other theatres are: Royal Theatre Carre, Bellevue theatres, the Stopera de kleine komedie and the re-opened DeLaMar.


Comedy and cabaret

The Netherlands has a tradition of cabaret or kleinkunst, which combines music, storytelling, commentary, theatre and comedy. Cabaret dates back to the 1930s and artists like Wim Kan, Wim Sonneveld and Toon Hermans were pioneers of this form of art in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam is the Kleinkunstacademie (English: Cabaret Academy).

Contemporary popular artists are Youp van 't Hek, Freek de Jonge, Herman Finkers, Hans Teeuwen, Theo Maassen, Herman van Veen, Najib Amhali, Raoul Heertje, Jorgen Raymann, De Vliegende Panters and Comedytrain. The English spoken comedy scene was established with the founding of Boom Chicago in 1993. They have their own theatre at Leidse Plein.



Amsterdam is famous for its vibrant and diverse nightlife. The two main nightlife areas are the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein. Amsterdam has many cafes. They range from large and modern to small and cozy. The typical Bruine Kroeg (brown cafe) breathe a more old fashioned atmosphere with dimmed lights, candles, and somewhat older clientele. Most cafes have terraces in summertime. A common sight on the Leidseplein during summer is a square full of terraces packed with people drinking beer or wine.

Many restaurants can be found in Amsterdam as well. Since Amsterdam is a multicultural city, a lot of different ethnic restaurants can be found. Restaurants range from being rather luxurious and expensive to being ordinary and affordable.

Amsterdam also possesses many discotheques. Most of these 'clubs' are situated near the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. The Paradiso, Melkweg and Sugar Factory are cultural centres, which turn into discotheques on some nights. Examples of discotheques near the Rembrandtplein are the Escape and Club Home. Also noteworthy are Panama, Hotel Arena (East), The Sand and The Powerzone.

The Reguliersdwarsstraat is the main street for the LGBT community and nightlife.


Movie theaters

Hollywood films are primarily featured at cinemas owned by Pathe. Tuschinski is a heritage art deco building with a beautiful lobby and six screens. Theater One is an architectural treasure with comfortable seats, two balconies and recently restored ceilings. Pathe De Munt is modern and is located at the Muntplein. Pathe Arena is located a metro ride from the centre and includes an IMAX auditorium. Pathe City is scheduled to reopen in 2010. Art films can be found at Tuschinski, and the independent The Movies, Cinecenter, Kriterion, Ketelhuis, Uitkijk, and the Filmmuseum.



In 2008, there were 140 festivals and events in Amsterdam. Famous festivals and events in Amsterdam include: Koninginnedag (Queen's Day); the Holland Festival for the performing arts; the yearly Prinsengrachtconcert (classical concerto on the Prinsen canal) in August; the 'Stille Omgang' (a silent Roman Catholic evening procession held every March); Amsterdam Gay Pride; The Cannabis Cup; and the Uitmarkt. On Koninginnedag—held each year on 30 April—hundreds of thousands of people travel to Amsterdam to celebrate with the city's residents. The entire city becomes overcrowded with people buying products from the freemarket, or visiting one of the many music concerts.

The yearly Holland Festival attracts international artists and visitors from all over Europe. Amsterdam Gay Pride is a yearly local LGBT parade of boats in Amsterdam's canals, held on the first Saturday in August. The Gay Pride event is a frequent source of both criticism and praise. The annual Uitmarkt is a three-day cultural event at the start of the cultural season in late August. It offers previews of many different artists, such as musicians and poets, who perform on podia.



Amsterdam is home of the Eredivisie football club Ajax Amsterdam. The stadium Amsterdam ArenA is the home of Ajax. It is located in the south-east of the city next to the new Amsterdam Bijlmer ArenA railway station. Before it moved to its current location in 1996, Ajax played their regular matches in De Meer Stadion. In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the Summer Olympics. The Olympic Stadium built for the occasion has been completely restored and is now used for cultural and sporting events, such as the Amsterdam Marathon. The city itself played host to the road cycling events for those games. Eight years earlier, Amsterdam assisted in hosting some of the sailing events for the Summer Olympics held in neighboring Antwerp, Belgium by hosting events at Buiten Y.

The ice hockey team Amstel Tijgers play in the Jaap Eden ice rink. The team competes in the Dutch ice hockey premier league. Speed skating championships have been held on the 400-metre (1,310 ft) lane of this ice rink.

Amsterdam holds two American Football franchises, the Amsterdam Crusaders, playing at Amsterdam Sloten, and the Amsterdam Panthers. The Amsterdam Pirates baseball team competes in the Dutch Major League. There are three field hockey teams, Amsterdam, Pinoke and Hurley, who play their matches around the Wagener Stadium in the nearby city of Amstelveen. The basketball team MyGuide Amsterdam competes in the Dutch premier division and play their games in the Sporthallen Zuid, near the Olympic Stadium.

Since 1999 the city of Amsterdam honours the best sportsmen and women at the Amsterdam Sports Awards. Boxer Raymond Joval and field hockey midfielder Carole Thate were the first to receive the awards in 1999.

Kick boxing, Muay Thai and other martial arts are very popular in the country and especially in the city of Amsterdam.

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