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Istanbul (Turkey)
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Istanbul business and financial district 2.jpg
Levent business and banking district in the Beşiktaş district
Basic data
Province (il) : Istanbul
Coordinates : 41 ° 1 '  N , 28 ° 58'  E Coordinates: 41 ° 0 '36 "  N , 28 ° 57' 37"  E
Height : 40  m
Surface: 5,220 km²
Residents : 15,519,267 (2019)
Population density : 2,973 inhabitants per km²
Telephone code : (+90) 212 (European part)
(+90) 216 (Asian part)
Postal code : 34 xxx
License plate : 34
Structure and administration (as of 2019)
Structure : 39 İlçe
Büyükşehir Belediye Başkanı (Mayor of the City Commune) : Ekrem Imamoglu ( CHP )
Template: Infobox Location in Turkey / Maintenance / District Without Inhabitants Or Area
Istanbul is separated into a European and an Asian part by the Bosporus (photo taken from the Galata Tower )
Aerial view of the Golden Horn
View of Istanbul at night

Istanbul ( Turkish İstanbul [isˈtanbuɫ], from Greek εἰς τὴν πόλιν eis tḕn pólin , "to the city": see below ), formerly Byzantium (Byzantium) and Constantinople , is the most populous city in Turkey and its center for culture, trade and finance and media. With around 15.5 million inhabitants, the metropolitan region ranked 15th among the largest metropolitan regions in the world in 2019 . With over 14 million tourists from abroad every year, Istanbul is also the city with the eighth largest number of visitors in the world. The city is located on the north bank of the Marmara Sea on both sides of the Bosphorus , i.e. both in European Thrace and in Asian Anatolia . Due to its globally unique transit location between two continents and two seas, the Black and the Mediterranean , it has significant shipping traffic and has three large airports as well as two central terminus and numerous long-distance bus stations. The Marmaray project , a railway tunnel under the Bosporus, connects the two continents. Istanbul is therefore one of the most important hubs for transport and logistics on an international and national level.

In 660 BC Founded under the name Byzantion , the city can look back on 2600 years of history . For almost 1,600 years it served successively as the capital of the Roman , Byzantine and Ottoman empires . As the seat of the ecumenical patriarch and - until 1924 - of the Ottoman caliphate , Istanbul was also an important center of Orthodox Christianity and Sunni Islam for centuries .

The cityscape is characterized by buildings from Greco-Roman antiquity , medieval Byzantium and modern and modern Turkey. Palaces are just as much a part of it as numerous mosques , cemevleri , churches and synagogues . Because of their uniqueness were parts of the historic city of UNESCO for World Heritage declared. In 2010 Istanbul was the European Capital of Culture .


The Galata Quarter and UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Peninsula (aerial view)

Istanbul is located in western Turkey and surrounds the Bosporus . The Golden Horn , a Bosphorus bay running to the west, separates the European part into a southern and northern area. The southern part is a peninsula between the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Golden Horn with the historical core of the city. To the north are the districts adjoining the historic Galata and Pera . Both to the west and to the north and east, the metropolis is growing far beyond the historic districts. In the southeast are the Prince Islands belonging to Istanbul .

The urban area extends around 50 km in north-south direction and around 100 km in east-west direction. The administrative area of ​​the metropolitan region is identical to the province of Istanbul and has an area of ​​5,343.02 km², of which only 1,830.92 (34.2%) belong to the city proper. The remainder with 3,512.1 km² (65.8%) in 2009 consisted of suburbs and areas with a rural settlement structure.


The Hagia Sophia ; to the left the Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Istanbul is located north of the North Anatolian Fault , which extends from Karlıova in Eastern Anatolia to the Marmara Sea and the Aegean Sea . The Anatolian Plate moves westward past the Eurasian Plate to the north. Along the resulting transform fault, 66 major earthquakes occurred between 1711 and 1894 alone.

The quake of 447, in which 57 towers of the land wall collapsed, and that of 559, in which parts of the dome of Hagia Sophia fell into the church a few years after completion, is known. One of the most severe quakes, combined with a gigantic tidal wave that broke over the city's sea walls, occurred in 1509 . An estimated 5,000 to 13,000 people were killed and 109 mosques and 1,070 houses destroyed. In addition, the fleet in Istanbul was destroyed. The next strong quake followed in 1557. In 1690 and 1719 tremors caused considerable damage to the land and sea walls. Memorial inscriptions on the city gates after the restoration by Sultan Ahmed III. were attached announce it. On May 22, 1766 , the prayer house of the Fatih Mosque was largely destroyed. In 1894, large parts of the Covered Bazaar collapsed in a quake , the widest street of which was only created after this disaster. Most of the mosaics in Hagia Sophia also fell victim to this quake.

On August 17, 1999, Istanbul was hit by a severe earthquake . 1200 people died on the main street in the suburb of Avcilar alone, and with it most of the Istanbul earthquake victims.

Geologists believe it is likely that an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 or greater will occur near Istanbul in the near future.

City structure

Districts of Istanbul
Karakoy district with the Galata Tower
Sultan Ahmed Mosque with a park area
Excavation pit and historical building fabric near Taksim Square in the western old town

The administrative area of ​​the metropolitan commune ( Büyükşehir Belediyesi ) Istanbul is divided into 39 urban districts ( İlçe ). Of these, 25 are in the European part and 14 in the Asian part.

The old city center of the former Constantinople , located in the south of the European side, with the districts of Eminönü and Fatih is separated from the younger districts to the north by the Golden Horn and bordered to the west by the Theodosian Land Wall. To the west of the wall lies the Eyüp district and behind and along the Marmara Sea there are new residential and commercial areas, which now even extend far to the west beyond the airport.

Old Istanbul in the Fatih district is mainly characterized by the large mosques and a former church. To emphasize Roman continuity, the idea arose in the 10th century that Constantinople, like Rome, rests on seven hills. Although this idea is a construct from later times and topographically hardly tenable (the "hills" are between 40 and 70 m high, for comparison: the Valens aqueduct measures 61 m in height), the seven-hill division is found in the Literature again. On the first hill of the city is the Hagia Sophia and just behind it the Sultan Ahmed Mosque , on the second the Nuruosmaniye Mosque , on the third the Suleymaniye Mosque , on the fourth the Fatih Mosque of Sultan Mehmed II , on the fifth the Sultan Selim Mosque , on the sixth the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque and on the seventh, not visible from the Golden Horn, the Haseki Hürrem Sultan Mosque . The townscape of Fatih also includes the wooden houses built in the Ottoman tradition.

North of the Golden Horn are the European districts of Beyoğlu and Beşiktaş , where the last sultan's palace, the Çırağan Palace , is located, followed by a chain of former villages such as Ortaköy, Bebek and Sarıyer on the banks of the Bosporus . Up until the beginning of the 20th century, wealthy Istanbul residents built luxurious wooden villas called Yalı here , which served as summer residences.

The districts of Kadıköy and Üsküdar on the Asian side were originally independent cities. Today they are mainly residential and business districts, where around a third of Istanbul's population lives. Subsequently, villages and city districts were expanded and redeveloped on a large scale along the Bosphorus and the Sea of ​​Marmara as well as into the Asian hinterland. In Beykoz , as on the opposite bank of the Bosphorus, there are many Ottoman Yalıs.

Due to the strong population growth, the largest part of the urban area today is made up of the urban districts such as Bağcılar , Bahçelievler , Küçükçekmece , Sultangazi in the European part, Maltepe , Pendik and Sultanbeyli in the Asian part. Some of them were built as gecekondulars ('built overnight') and only after years or decades were they connected to the urban infrastructure. One third of the newly arrived Istanbul residents live in such informal settlements or slums. Since the 1980s, some of the gecekondus have been demolished from the city with enormous public sympathy. The much larger part, on the other hand, has developed into fully-fledged urban districts. Istanbul is the only metropolis in an emerging country that does not have extensive slums. Upscale office and residential areas are being built in the north at the level of the second Bosphorus bridge above Bebek in the Levent , Etiler and Maslak districts . But there are also upscale office and residential areas in the west in Bakırköy and Başakşehir and in the east on the Asian side.


The city has a mild, humid maritime climate due to its location between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea . The average annual temperature is 13.9 ° C. The warmest months are July and August with an average of around 23 ° C, the coldest January and February with under 6 ° C. Summer temperatures can reach over 35 ° C in the shade during the hot spells, which often last several days and occur from June to August. Winter is cool to cold and, like the other seasons, changeable. There are spring-like sunny days, but also rain and cold snaps and frequent snowfalls. The average annual rainfall is 850 millimeters. Most precipitation falls in the months of October to December with an average of 102, 110 and 125 mm, the lowest precipitation is recorded for the months of May, June and July with an average of 32, 41 and 40 mm. Heavy rainfall and flooding occur in all seasons. In Istanbul, the northeast wind Poyraz is most frequently observed, which is associated with higher speeds especially in summer and brings cool sea air, cold sea air in winter. The south- westerly wind is also frequent, Lodos , which brings humid, misty and warm air masses.

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: State Meteorological Office of the Turkish Republic, normal period 1981-2010 ; (water temperature, humidity)
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Istanbul
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 8.5 8.7 11.0 15.5 20.1 25.0 26.9 27.2 23.8 19.2 14.2 10.4 O 17.6
Min. Temperature (° C) 3.5 2.9 4.4 7.8 12.2 16.7 19.7 20.4 16.8 13.2 8.5 5.5 O 11
Temperature (° C) 5.8 5.5 7.3 11.2 15.7 20.5 22.9 23.4 19.9 15.8 11.0 7.8 O 13.9
Precipitation ( mm ) 99.5 82.1 69.2 43.1 31.5 40.6 39.6 41.9 64.4 102.3 110.3 125.1 Σ 849.6
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 2.2 3.2 4.6 6.0 8.0 9.6 10.3 9.3 7.8 5.1 3.1 2.0 O 5.9
Rainy days ( d ) 16.9 15.2 13.2 10.0 7.4 7.0 4.7 5.1 8.1 12.3 13.9 17.5 Σ 131.3
Water temperature (° C) 8th 8th 8th 11 15th 20th 22nd 23 21st 19th 15th 11 O 15.1
Humidity ( % ) 80 79 76 73 74 71 70 70 74 78 80 80 O 75.4
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Flora and fauna

In Istanbul there are plants that give the city's flora a predominantly Central European and at the same time Mediterranean character, especially on the Prince Islands . For example, on Çamlıca or Sarıyer in the north there are pedunculate oaks , beeches and chestnuts , on the Prince Islands in the south small pine forests and Kermes oaks . You can find cedar juniper , pistachio , cypress , Cretan rockrose , blackthorn and butcher's broom there and in the southern parts of the city . The large forests that surround the city in the European and Asian parts in the north have a Central European character. In the Belgrade Forest (Belgrade Ormanı) there are different types of oak, including the sessile oak and the Hungarian oak , as well as hornbeam , silver birch and bog birch , turkish lilies , forest ragwort , great witch's weed and two-leaved squill .

With around 2,500 different naturally occurring plant species, the province and city of Istanbul, whose total area is only 5,343.02 km², dwarf entire European countries such as the United Kingdom. Istanbul alone is home to around a quarter of more than ten thousand documented plant species found in Turkey. Some of these plants are endemic .

According to the General Directorate of Forestry ("Orman Genel Müdürlüğü"), 44% of Istanbul Province is covered by forests. For a big city, there is a rich animal world here . The more salty water of the Marmara Sea mixes with the less salt of the Black Sea at the southern exit of the Bosphorus, which results in a relative abundance of fish. The anchovy is characteristic here , but dolphins can also be observed occasionally, since the water quality of the Bosphorus and Marmara Sea has increased due to the construction of sewage treatment plants. The forests are home to over 71 species of birds and 18 species of mammals. There is a ban on hunting. Wild boars , wolves , golden jackals , foxes , red deer , fallow deer and roe deer are therefore common in the forests .

The city is a destination for bird lovers from all over the world who want to observe the annual bird migration . Around 500,000 white storks, and thus the majority of the European population, fly over the Bosporus in two waves from late July to mid-September. The highlight of the black stork migration is at the end of September. The migration of birds of prey can also be observed on favorable days with up to a thousand birds a day. These include honey buzzard , spotted eagle , greater spotted eagle , sparrow hawks and other Buzzard species . Can be rare Egyptian vulture , imperial eagle , booted eagle , serpent eagles and harriers watch, though turned by the latter all European species.

Seagulls on a roof; in the background two large Ottoman mosques

As in many other large cities, the bird world is mainly represented by the city ​​pigeon , the palm pigeon , which was probably introduced from Algeria or Tunisia in the 19th century, and by seagulls . Large populations live in some inner city squares, for example in front of the Beyazıt Mosque or in front of the Yeni Mosque. Other pigeon species as well as house sparrows , gray herons and the black kite are less common . On the other hand, alpine swifts , girlitz , velvet warbler , cormorant and Mediterranean shearwater are more common .

Stray cats are omnipresent in the cityscape. Sometimes they live individually, sometimes together in large groups. They feed on waste, but are also often fed by humans. Semi-wild dogs are also to be found to a lesser extent .

environmental issues

The growth of the city, the high density of industry and traffic lead to significant environmental problems . Successes have been achieved against air pollution through the use of natural gas, and the same applies to the waste problem. Nevertheless, the numerous factories, automobiles and private households continue to pollute the air and water. Particular environmental problems also arise from traffic noise and the often direct vicinity of poorer residential areas and industrial plants.

Floods repeatedly bring rubbish into the sewer system, blocking them and increasing the risk of infectious diseases. The cause of numerous problems lies in the infrastructure, which has not been able to keep up with the enormous population growth since the 1980s.

According to the World Bank's world development indicators for 2012, Istanbul is the seventh worst city in the world for sulfur dioxide air pollution.


Development of the name

Various names of Istanbul on Ottoman postmarks (1880-1925)

The original Greek name of the city Byzantion ( Greek Βυζάντιον , Latin Byzantium ) goes back to the legendary founder of the city, Byzas , who came from Megara in central Greece. He had followed an oracle from the Pythia . In honor of the Roman emperor Constantinus , who expanded Byzantion into the capital, the city was renamed Constantinopolis (Greek Κωνσταντινούπολις Kōnstantinoúpolis "City of Constantine") in 324 . In Constantinopolis go the German form Konstantin Opel and numerous forms of names back into other languages. So Konstantin Opel was on Arabic al-Qustantīniyya  /القسطنطينيةcalled, in Armenian Gostantnubolis and in Hebrew Kushta ( קושטא). In many Slavic languages, however , the city was called Cari (n) grad ("City of the Emperor ").

From the Ottoman conquest to 1930 there was no permanent and unambiguous official name form. In Ottoman documents, inscriptions, etc., the city was usually referred to as Kostantiniyye  /قسطنطينيهdesignated. But you can also find şehir-i azima ("the great city"), the Frenchized forms Constantinople and Stamboul and, from the 19th century, the name Dersaâdet  /در سعادت / Der-i Saʿādet  / 'Gate of Bliss'. Other names were darü's-saltanat-ı aliyye , asitane-i aliyye and darü'l-hilafetü 'l aliye and pâyitaht /پایتخت / 'Honorable throne' in the sense of 'residence'.

The name Islambol  /إسلامبولon a coin of H. 1203 (1788/89 in the Gregorian calendar)
From the campaign diary of Suleyman I (1521): "[...] and left for the city of Istanbul [...]" (modern emphasis)

In the Turkish dialect of the city, the name form Istanbul, Astanbul  /استانبول(also Istambul , Stambul ), which was already in use in Seljuk times and is later documented by Ottoman and Western European records for the 16th century. Islambol appeared based on Istanbul  /إسلامبول / ' Filled with Islam', which was also struck on coins in the 18th century as the name of the mint at Tavşan taşı . While Constantinople usually meant the entire city, including some parts of the city north of the Golden Horn and beyond the Bosphorus, the name Istanbul rather characterized the old city on the peninsula between the Sea of ​​Marmara, the Bosporus and the Golden Horn, which was closed off to the west by the land wall. In 1876 the name of the capital as Istanbul was incorporated into the new constitution , where Article 2 read:

« Devlet-i Osmaniyenin payitahtı Istanbul şehridir  /دولت عثمانیه نك پای تختی استانبول شهریدر / 'The capital of the Ottoman state is the city of Istanbul' »

In Istanbul it is probably the Turkish variation of the ancient Greek εἰς τὴν πόλιν , rather but εἰς τὰν πόλιν what is in ( "in the city") medium Greek about phonetics istimbólin or istambólin was pronounced. This interpretation seems conclusive, because anyone who colloquially said "the city" in late antiquity and in the early Middle Ages in the Eastern Roman Empire usually meant Constantinople, which with its five hundred thousand inhabitants and its mighty walls could not be compared with any other city in the wide area. Like ancient Rome, it was a prime example of a city, it was the economic, cultural and political center. Like Rome before, Constantinople was the center of the world. The empire itself, like its capital, therefore actually did not need a name, since they were unique (the emperor did not see himself as emperor of Byzantium or Constantinople, but as emperor " urbis et orbis "). Even today, in Greek, ἡ Πόλη , ī Pólī “the city” and its famous cuisine as the πολίτικη κουζίνα polítikī kouzína , or “urban kitchen”, is spoken of (cf. the original title of the film cinnamon and coriander ).

On March 28, 1930, in the early days of the republic, İstanbul became the official name of the entire city. Since the city has long been called that in the Ottoman script and in the Turkish vernacular in the narrower sense, this was actually not a new name, but an adjustment to a language that has been in use for a long time. In most European countries (except for example Greece and Armenia ) the name Istanbul gradually replaced the name Constantinople or its variants from the linguistic usage. However, the ancient Greek-Roman naming is still used in specialist literature - mostly with reference to the historical, pre-Ottoman Constantinople.


Around 660 BC Chr. Founded Doric Greeks from Megara , Argos and Corinth Byzantium , a colony on the European shore of the Bosphorus. The favorable geographical position soon enabled the settlement to become an important trading center. At the end of the 6th century she got into the clashes between the Persian Empire and the Greek Poleis , then into the internal Greek conflicts.

513 BC The Persian King Darius I conquered the city, and in 478 it was occupied by Sparta for two years . Then Byzantion chose democracy as its form of government and, under pressure from Athens, joined the Attic-Delian League (until 356). 340/339 the city resisted the siege by the Macedonian king Philip II. After the collapse of the Macedonian empire , the city increasingly sided with the expanding Roman empire and became 196 BC. Roman ally. Byzantion only lost this special status under Emperor Vespasian . In 196, Septimius Severus had the city destroyed as a punishment for supporting his opponent Pescennius Niger , but it was rebuilt. In 258 it was sacked by the Goths .

In 324 Constantine I achieved sole rule over the Roman Empire and on May 11, 330 he baptized the new capital with the name Nova Roma (New Rome). However, it became better known under the name of Constantinople . Their area increased fivefold within a few decades. To the west of the city wall built by Constantine, Theodosius II had a wall that is still preserved today built from 412, increasing the city area from six to twelve square kilometers. Aqueducts supplied what is now the largest city in the Mediterranean with water, and grain was distributed to large parts of the population.

Constantinople - Kostantiniyye - Istanbul

Depiction of Constantinople by Cristoforo Buondelmonti , 1422

Eastern Roman Empire

Again under Emperor Justinian I (527-565) Constantinople was magnificently expanded ( Hagia Sophia ). The city was by far the richest and largest city in Europe and the Mediterranean and successfully withstood the two sieges by Arabs in the years 674–678 and 717/18 . Under the pressure of the Seljuks , who conquered Asia Minor from the middle of the 11th century , the city temporarily lost its eastern hinterland. In this situation the Italian cities, especially Venice and Genoa , received trade privileges and extensive residential areas on the south bank of the Golden Horn; the Genoese from 1267 in Pera on the north bank. In addition, in 1054 the ecclesiastical unity between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church was broken . In 1171, Emperor Manuel I had the Venetians arrested and their property confiscated. Venice used the Fourth Crusade for revenge, and in 1204 Crusaders conquered Constantinople. The city was ransacked, numerous residents were murdered and priceless works of art were lost. Reduced to around 100,000 inhabitants, the city was the capital of the Latin Empire from 1204 to 1261 . In 1261, Emperor Michael VIII succeeded in retaking Constantinople, but had to oppose renewed plans of conquest for another two decades. Since then, the city has been nothing more than the center of a regional power, whose hinterland was successively conquered by the Ottomans from 1354. Around 1400 the empire consisted only of Constantinople with its immediate surrounding area and small remaining areas in the north ( Thessaloniki ) and south ( Morea ) of Greece. Once again in 1422 the city withstood a siege by Murad II .

Ottoman Empire

The conquest of Constantinople according to a 15th century French chronicle

On April 5, 1453, the last siege by Ottoman forces under Sultan Mehmed II began. On the morning of May 29, the "long-ruined city" was occupied. Constantinople - now officially mostly Kostantiniyye , occasionally also called İstanbul - became the new Ottoman capital after Bursa and Adrianople ( Edirne ). The partially destroyed and depopulated city was systematically repopulated and rebuilt. The power of the empire reached its peak under Sultan Suleyman I (1520–1566), whose architect Sinan shaped the cityscape with numerous mosques, bridges, palaces and fountains. With the continuing decline of Ottoman influence in the region and the shrinking of the empire until the beginning of the 20th century, the cosmopolitan importance of Constantinople also suffered.

View of Istanbul around 1910

The weakness of the empire after the Balkan War of 1912/1913 made the European powers and Russia aware of the danger of a power vacuum in the strategically important straits and raised the oriental question of control over the straits and the division of the empire into spheres of interest. The Sultan and the Young Turks sought the support of the German Empire.

A British warship with a view of the Golden Horn. Allied occupation of Istanbul in 1918

The access of the Entente on Konstantin Opel was the Ottoman Empire in World War I on the side of the Central Powers in the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli prevent. Still the war was lost. French and British troops occupied the metropolis on November 13, 1918. In the peace treaty of Sèvres of August 10, 1920, the Ottoman Empire was divided up among the victorious Allied powers and, in addition, suffered enormous losses of territory. Constantinople with the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits remained occupied by the Allies for five years. In memory of Byzantium, which was claimed to be Greek, Greece demanded the "return" of Constantinople, which it wanted to make its capital.

Under Mustafa Kemal , known as Ataturk , the Turkish Liberation War began in 1919 , at the end of which the last units of the Allied troops left the city on September 23, 1923. Constantinople lost its status as the seat of government to Ankara that year , with which the new republic wanted to differentiate itself from the tradition of the Ottomans.

Turkish Republic

Order of the Interior Ministry under Talât Pasha on April 24, 1915

The first of the two large Christian minorities, the Armenians, began to be expelled during the First World War . Non-Muslims made up the majority of the population until around 1890, from this point in time steady immigration to the city began, the number of which a few years later exceeded the million mark. Since the 17th century, Armenians had increasingly moved here, so that by 1850 over 220,000 were living in Constantinople. They made up perhaps a quarter to a third of the population. The Allies sought their support during the First World War. On April 24, 1915, two months after the beginning of the Battle of Gallipoli (fighting for the Dardanelles), which took place between February 19, 1915 and January 9, 1916, the government deported Armenian civilians from Constantinople for the first time. Officially there were 235, probably more than 400 of the 77,835 Armenians who lived in the capital at the time. The genocide of the Armenians took place mainly in Anatolia; the Armenians of Istanbul were largely spared until 1923. In Istanbul the persecutions were aimed at the deportation of the Armenian elite . During the deportation, from April 24, 1915, by order of Interior Minister Mehmet Talât Bey, leading persons of the Armenian community in Istanbul and later in other villages were arrested and taken to concentration camps near Ankara . After the adoption of the Deportation Act of May 29, 1915 , they were forcibly relocated, tortured , expropriated and many were murdered. Therefore, April 24th is celebrated as Genocide Remembrance Day in Armenia . On the night of April 25, 235 to 270 Armenian community leaders from Istanbul (mainly clergy, doctors, publishers, journalists, lawyers, teachers, politicians) were arrested in a first wave based on the decision of the Interior Ministry. According to research, a second wave of arrests in Istanbul affected up to 600 people.

The exact population of the city can hardly be determined. Around 1920 it was between 800,000 and 1.5 million. It is only clear that after four decades of strong population growth, the number of inhabitants virtually collapsed. In 1927 there were only 691,000 inhabitants; while the non-Muslim population had been around 450,000 in 1914, it was only 240,000 in 1927. At that time, however, it still made up almost a third of the population.

At that time, 84% of the population lived in cities with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, which, with the slow onset of rural exodus, had enormous potential for immigration to Istanbul, which began to unfold from the 1950s. While the Greeks, probably around 1.2 million, had to leave Anatolia, all Greeks who had lived in the capital on October 30, 1918 were allowed to stay there. But despite this special agreement from 1926, other Greeks left the city; there was an extreme shortage of craftsmen. In 1942, non-Muslims were asked to pay a special wealth tax ( Varlık Vergisi ), and in 1955 almost the entire Orthodox population was expelled from the city during the Istanbul pogrom . Of the 110,000 or so Greeks, around 2,500 stayed in Istanbul. Today around 60,000 Armenians and 2,500 Greeks live in the city.

Istanbul grew rapidly from the 1950s, it attracted and continues to attract numerous people from Anatolia to this day. Numerous Eastern Europeans have been coming to the metropolis since the 1990s. Large-scale construction projects arose; they could barely keep up with the rapid population growth . In addition, they paid little attention to existing structures. Istanbul extended far into the surrounding area; numerous villages and towns in the surrounding area are now part of the metropolis. Accordingly, Istanbul was elevated to a metropolitan municipality in 1984 .

In 1994, the current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became mayor as a candidate for the Islamist Refah Partisi (RP) ( Welfare Party ). The future mayor Mevlüt Uysal is a member of the Islamic conservative Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP). In November 2003, the city was rocked by a series of serious attacks . The attack in an Internet café on February 9, 2006 killed one person and four days later injured six people in an attack in a supermarket.

On May 28, 2013, demonstrations began in Taksim Square . They began as protests against a planned shopping center or the deforestation of Gezi Park; After a brutal police operation on May 31, 2013, they turned into protests against the Erdogan government and Erdogan's style of government (→ Protests in Turkey 2013 ).


Consequences of a fire in the old town of Istanbul

The large fires that occurred frequently triggered social and economic crises and had a major impact on the development of the city. Triggers were, for example, the regularly occurring earthquakes, the trade in explosives , carelessness in households and workshops, and arson. Between 1883 and 1906 there were 229 fires with the destruction of 36,000 houses. The fire in the Grand Bazaar in 1690 destroyed goods worth an estimated 3 million kurus (about 2 million pieces of gold). The largest fires in the city's history occurred in 1569, 1633, 1660, 1693, 1718, 1782, 1826, 1833, 1865 and most recently in 1918 with 7,500 houses destroyed. The traveler Salomon Schweigger wrote around 1580:

“There have been quite a few boobs in town. The fire would have seized a prison in one of them, on the city wall by the canal or sea port. The prisoners in the upper part of the turn directed themselves with force at the door, opened it and got away; the others had to perish in it, of whom there were seventy. A large square, like a large village, had blown away, but you don't notice it in the city. When a fire is compensated, no one runs to the desired to extinguish, except for the janissaries, who are ordered not to extinguish, but to break the flames by breaking and tearing down the next houses "

- Salomon Schweigger: To the court of the Turkish sultan. Leipzig 1986 (reprint), p. 94

Some reasons for the devastating effect of the fires lay in the dense building of the city, which until well into the 20th century mainly consisted of wooden houses, the frequent winds and the settlement structure, which often consisted of largely self-contained quarters (Mahalle) with dead ends and made it difficult to fight the fire quickly. After major fires, decrees were issued that houses near social, economic and public buildings should also be made of stone or brick. However, these orders were not always obeyed. In Ottoman times, the water carrier guild and the janissaries were responsible for fighting fires, from 1718 fire trucks with water pumps and newly established fire brigades were used.


Population development

Population development over the past 100 years

The population rose from 680,000 in 1927 to 1.3 million in 1955, 2.5 million in 1975, 9.8 million in 2005, to 13.1 million in 2010 and 14.7 million in 2015. Of the 13,120,596 inhabitants in 2010 lived around 65% in the European part of Istanbul and around 35% on the Asian side.

The following overview shows the population figures according to the respective territorial status. Up to 1914 these are mostly estimates with great uncertainties. The noticeable decline in population between 1900 and 1927 is an expression of the displacement of the Greek population. The numbers from 1927 to 2000 are results of censuses . The figures for 2005 and 2006 are based on extrapolations; those from 2007 onwards are results of censuses. The doubling of the population between 1980 and 1985 is due to immigration, natural population growth and also to expansion of the city limits. The population figures in the following table refer to the city within its political boundaries, without independent suburbs.

Ethnic minorities

Kurds celebrate Newroz in Istanbul

Kurds and Zaza together form the largest group of ethnic minorities in Istanbul. The largest of the Christian population groups traditionally still living there are Armenians . The government puts the number of Armenians in Istanbul at 45,000, which corresponds to around 0.36 percent of the population. About 17,000 Arameans make up the second largest Christian ethnic group. The 22,000 Jews make up the second largest religious minority. Some of the approximately 25,000 Bosporus Germans come from families who have often lived permanently in Constantinople or Istanbul since the first half of the 19th century. Some of the 1,650 Greeks have been originally residents for many generations. According to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung , the number of Russians is estimated at around 100,000, and that of the Chinese is said to be even higher. Istanbul was also a haven for Russians due to the October communist revolution .

Other population groups are Lasen , Arabs , Circassians and Roma . A small Polish community exists in Polonezköy ( German  "Polendorf" , Polish Adampol ), which has a little over 400 inhabitants.


Mevlevi -Derwish in Istanbul

Today the vast majority of the population professes Islam . At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the majority of the population was non-Muslim, such as the Greek Orthodox Christians , the Syrian Orthodox Arameans , the Armenian Christians and the Sephardic Jews . They now form only small minorities. In addition to Islamic sacred buildings, there are also Christian churches of different denominations and synagogues in prominent locations, such as St. Stefan (former seat of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church ) on the Golden Horn or the Agia Triada on Taksim Square. In some parts of the city, for example in the Kuzguncuk district, the institutions of different religions are close together.

The city is the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople , to whom most of the Orthodox churches in today's Turkey are subordinate and who also enjoys priority over all Orthodox churches . An Armenian archbishop and the Turkish chief rabbi also reside here .


Muslims of different faiths make up the largest religious group. Most of them are Sunnis , 15 to 30 percent are Alevis . There are a total of 2,562 mosques , 215 small mosques (Turkish Mescit ) and 119 Türben .

On September 2, 1925, the numerous dervish orders ( Tarīqas ) were banned under Kemal Ataturk . Most of the followers of Sufism , Islamic mysticism , acted in secret or went abroad (e.g. to Albania ). Some of them have a large following today. In order to evade the ban, however, they usually appear as “cultural associations”. The İsmail Ağa community in Fatih is known throughout the country.


The Catholic Basilica of St. Anthony in Beyoğlu (formerly Pera )

The city is the seat of the ecumenical patriarch , who acts as primus inter pares as the highest representative of the Orthodox churches. The Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, based in Fener, has been Bartholomew I since 1991. He is the 270th successor to the Apostle Andrew and thus the de facto (honorary) head of around 300 million Orthodox Christians. The seats of the Armenian Patriarch , the Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox ( Aramaic ) Congregation and an Apostolic Vicar of the Roman Catholic Church in Turkey are also located in Istanbul.

With almost 85,000 Christians, around 85 percent of all Christians in Turkey are resident in Istanbul , the number of which is around 100,000 nationwide. The number of Armenians is around 45,000 (35 churches), the Aramaeans 12,000, the Bosporus Germans 10,000 and the Greeks 1,650 (5 churches). Some Orthodox churches are subordinate to other patriarchates such as the Bulgarian Orthodox Church of St. Stephen . In addition to the Levantines and other non-Orthodox communities, there is also a German Protestant and Catholic parish as well as an Austrian Catholic parish around the St. Georgs Kolleg .


The Sephardic Turkish Jews have lived in the city for over 500 years. They fled the Iberian Peninsula in 1492 to avoid being baptized as a result of the Alhambra Edict . Sultan Beyazit II (1481–1512) sent a fleet to Spain to save the Sephardic Jews. More than 200,000 of them fled first to Tangier , Algiers , Genoa and Marseille , and later to Saloniki and Istanbul. The Sultan granted refuge to over 50,000 of these Spanish Jews.

In 2016 there were only about 17,000 Jews living in Istanbul; before 2010 it was 22,000 and they make up less than 0.2 percent of the population. A total of 16 synagogues can be found in the city, the most important of which is the Neve Shalom Synagogue in the Beyoğlu district , which was inaugurated in 1951 and on which three terrorist attacks were carried out (on September 6, 1986, March 1, 1992 and November 15, 2003 ). Istanbul is the seat of the Hahambaşı , the Turkish chief rabbi . The only Jewish museum in Turkey, the 500th Yıl Vakfı Türk Musevileri Müzesi , is located in Beyoğlu. The museum was completed on November 25, 2001 and the current curator is Naim Güleryüz.

Development of the living situation

Residential building in Maltepe
The Gecekondu district of Seyrantepe

The districts of Bakırköy and Beylikdüzü in the European part, which together have around 400,000 inhabitants, and Maltepe in the Asian part, which has a similar population, have grown rapidly since the 1980s and consist mainly of high-rise buildings. Etiler in the Beşiktaş district in particular has developed into one of the most affluent neighborhoods since the 1990s.

After most of the vacant lots in the inner and inner city areas have been closed, there are hardly any opportunities to relax, apart from the frequently frequented Gülhane and Yıldız Park .

The immense immigration resulted in illegal settlements (gecekondus) emerging on the periphery , most of which Istanbul has in Turkey. Almost a quarter of Istanbul residents live in the 750,000 or so residential buildings in such settlements. Over 50 percent of its residents are unemployed or uninsured. Crime is higher than in other districts, socially marginalized population groups and a low presence of state organizations also characterize these districts.

The largest Gecekondu districts are on the European side. In Fatih, such as in Balat , the quarter once inhabited by Jews, which was under a restoration program until 2007, and Sulukule , where mainly Roma live, who are resisting the resettlement of 3,500 inhabitants, there are strong tensions. Gazi Mahallesi and Habipler in the Sultangazi district, which is home to around 450,000 people, as well as Seyrantepe in the Şişli district and Tarlabaşı in the Beyoğlu district (245,000). On the Asian side, these are Gülsuyu in the Maltepe district (420,000). Individual Gecekondus can be found predominantly in the districts of Bağcılar , Bahçelievler , which had around 800 inhabitants in 1950 but almost 600,000 in 2007, Küçükçekmece (670,000), Pendik (540,000) and Sultanbeyli (280,000).

Michael Thumann reports on the gentrification in Tarlabaşı, where old owners are expropriated with the approval of the AKP government in order to build new buildings.


The crime rate in Istanbul fell by 25 percent from 76,285 registered crimes in 2006 to 57,123 registered crimes in 2007. Istanbul's metropolitan government has decided to install 800 to 900  security cameras.


Istanbul City Hall in the
Fatih district

City administration

The city administration has a two-tier structure and consists of the government of the metropolitan municipality and the government of the city districts.


Acting Mayor of Istanbul is Ekrem İmamoğlu . He was determined as the winner in the election on March 31, 2019 and received the office on April 17, 2019, which was handed over to him by his predecessor Mevlüt Uysal . In May 2019, the election result was canceled by the election commission at the request of the AKP , but he also won the re-election on June 23, this time with a clear lead over the AKP candidate.

City council

The city has a city parliament with 300 elected members, including the 39 mayors of the individual city districts.

Party / list Election 2019 Distribution of seats
128 4th 176 4th 

Share of votes Seats
Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) 45.58% 176 seats
Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP) 38.54% 128 seats
Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP) 4.01% 0 seats
İYİ Parti (İYİ) 3.47% 4 seats
Saadet Partisi (SAADET) 2.63% 0 seats
Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (MHP) 2.16% 4 seats

Town twinning

Istanbul maintains the following city ​​partnerships (Turkish: Kardeş Şehirler ):

KazakhstanKazakhstan Almaty , Kazakhstan (1998)

JordanJordan Amman , Jordan (1997)

AzerbaijanAzerbaijan Baku , Azerbaijan (1985)

ThailandThailand Bangkok , Thailand (2009)

SpainSpain Barcelona , Spain (1997)

LebanonLebanon Beirut , Lebanon (2010)

LibyaLibya Benghazi , Libya (2013)

GermanyGermany Berlin , Germany (1989)

Korea SouthSouth Korea Busan , South Korea (2008)

RomaniaRomania Constanța , Romania (2001)

SyriaSyria Damascus , Syria (2006)

Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Jeddah , Saudi Arabia (1984)

United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates Dubai , United Arab Emirates (1997)

AlbaniaAlbania Durrës , Albania (1998)

China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China Guangzhou , People's Republic of China (2012)

United StatesUnited States Houston , United States (1988)

IndonesiaIndonesia Jakarta , Indonesia (2007)

MalaysiaMalaysia Johor Bahru , Malaysia (1983)

EgyptEgypt Cairo , Egypt (1988)

Tatarstan RepublicRepublic of Tatarstan Kazan , Tatarstan (2002)

SudanSudan Khartoum , Sudan (2001)

GermanyGermany Cologne , Germany (1997)

PakistanPakistan Lahore , Pakistan (1975)

TurkmenistanTurkmenistan Mary , Turkmenistan (1994)

MexicoMexico Mexico City , Mexico (2010)

UkraineUkraine Odessa , Ukraine (1997)

KyrgyzstanKyrgyzstan Osh , Kyrgyzstan (1998)

BulgariaBulgaria Plovdiv , Bulgaria (2001)

MoroccoMorocco Rabat , Morocco (1991)

BrazilBrazil Rio de Janeiro , Brazil (1965)

RussiaRussia Saint Petersburg , Russia (1990)

Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo , Bosnia and Herzegovina (1997)

China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China Shanghai , People's Republic of China (1997)

JapanJapan Shimonoseki , Japan (1972)

North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia Skopje , North Macedonia (2003)

IranIran Tabriz , Iran (2010)

TunisiaTunisia Tunis , Tunisia (2010)

ItalyItaly Venice , Italy (2007)

Former town twinning

NetherlandsNetherlands Rotterdam , Netherlands (2005 - March 15, 2017) unilaterally terminated by the Istanbul city council.

Culture and sights

European Capital of Culture 2010

On April 11, 2006, the city was chosen by an EU jury as the European Capital of Culture 2010 alongside Essen and Pécs . Istanbul is also one of the Islamic cultural centers .

Music and theater

Istanbul has numerous theaters, opera houses and concert halls. One of the best known is the Türker İnanoğlu Maslak Show Center in Maslak, which opened in November 2005 and is operated by the MEGA Company . Large events take place here, which are noticed all over Turkey. The center is open every day. Every year around 450,000 visitors come to the house's own events alone. The large theater has 1810 seats, the small 380.

In Kadıköy you will find the 1924-1927 built and renovated 2005-2007 Süreyya Opera House and one after the writer Haldun Taner called theater.

One of the most famous orchestras is the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra (BIFO), which was founded in 1993. His first concert took place on May 13, 1999 in the Yıldız Palace . Since 2008 the BIFO has been under the direction of the Austrian Sascha Goetzel . After a one-year selection process in the 2007/2008 season, in which guest conductors from four nations took part, he became music director of the symphony orchestra. The State Opera (Devlet Operası) with its famous ballet and the State Symphony Orchestra, the İstanbul Devlet Senfoni Orkestrası , play in the house on Taksim Square .


The most famous museums are the Topkapı Palace , the Archaeological Museum , the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art , the Museum İstanbul Modern and the Dolmabahçe Palace , also a former sultan's palace, which was built in the neo-baroque style in the 19th century .

2014 was Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk as European Museum of the Year Award.

Many of the mosque outbuildings have now been turned into museums that provide insights into the Ottoman era. There are also other art museums. The most valuable paintings and miniatures of Turkey can be found in the museums of Istanbul.

The Hagia Sophia was made accessible to Islamic worship again in 2020 and functions as a mosque again. Similar efforts concern the Kariye Camii (mostly known as Chora Church ), which lost its status as a museum after a court ruling in 2019.


Ancient, Byzantine and Christian Constantinople

Basilica Cistern

The ancient origins can still be discovered in the cityscape of the old town. These include the Column of Constantine and remains of the Theodosius Forum . Due to the numerous earthquakes, city fires and the economic situation at the end of the Byzantine Empire, most of the buildings had fallen into disrepair by the 15th century. Some places and buildings have been preserved in the complex or as ruins to this day. These include the mighty Theodosian Land Wall and the Sea Walls, the Studios Monastery (İmrahor Camii) , the Hippodrome with a capacity of up to 100,000 spectators, near the German Fountain , the Constantine Forum with the Constantine Column, the Imperial Palaces and the Porphyrogennetos Palace (Tekfur Sarayı) . Most of the buildings have been converted and heavily changed. The Valens aqueduct , which ensured the water supply even after 1453, the late antique cistern Cisterna Basilica from the 6th century or various columns of honor, for example the 20 m high obelisk Thutmose III, has hardly been changed . made of rose granite , which was brought from the Egyptian village of Karnak to Constantinople and placed on the spine of the hippodrome in 390 AD .

Maiden's Tower in the Bosphorus

One of the military buildings is Yedikule ("Castle of the Seven Towers") at the southern end of the Theodosian Wall , which was built in the 5th century by Theodosius II . The Maiden's Tower , which stands on a Bosporus island in front of Üsküdar, is located at a point where Alkibiades was in the 5th century BC. A fortification built. One end of the large chain is said to have been attached to Maiden's Tower, which was stretched across the Bosporus during attacks on Byzantium. Almost unscathed, some churches have survived first as mosques, then as museums, such as the Hagia Sophia ( Ayasofya Camii , Church of Holy Wisdom), which was consecrated in 537, the Pammakaristos Church (Fethiye Camii) , which was probably founded in the 11th century , the late Byzantine Chora Church (Kariye Camii) , which was built in its current form in the 14th century and shows valuable frescoes , and the Hagia Eirene , which was converted into an arsenal . Also significant evidence of Byzantine art are today's mosques Küçük Aya Sofya Mosque (Sergios and Bacchos Church), which may have served as a model for Hagia Sophia, the Zeyrek Mosque (Pantokrator monastery church) with its Opus sectile -Boden and the Kalenderhane Mosque (Maria Kyriotissa Monastery). The latter dates from the 12th century in its current form. The oldest pre-iconoclastic mosaics in Istanbul were found in it. The frescoes of Francis of Assisi , created there from 1227, are now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum . The former St. Andrew's Church is now the Koca Mustafa Pascha Mosque .

The Galata Tower , which was the northern end and the main bastion of the Genoese settlement Galata , is one of the most striking buildings in Istanbul today.

Muslims lived within the city as early as pre-Ottoman times. The first mosque in Constantinople and thus the first mosque in Southeast Europe is said to have been built as early as 718.

Ottoman Constantinople

The Rumeli Hisarı fortress in Sarıyer

The Ottoman architecture is particularly evident in the palaces and residences, the mosques and the associated foundation buildings ( Külliyen ), the large, multi-storey trading houses, hostels and warehouses , the bazaars and the decorative and functional buildings such as the large Rumeli fortifications on the Bosporus Hisarı and Anadolu Hisarı . Bourgeois residential buildings, on the other hand, have long been considered less worthy of protection.

Interior of the Suleymaniye Mosque

The Ottoman sultans and their highest officials sought immediately after the conquest of Constantinople then, do the requirements of their faith rite sufficiently and to demonstrate their power their claim and its sophistication. For this purpose, churches and monasteries were converted into mosques and new mosques were built. As before the conquest of Constantinople, numerous Byzantine craftsmen and builders were involved. For example, around 50 percent Christian craftsmen worked on the construction of the Suleymaniye Mosque in the 16th century. The scheme of the dome structure of Hagia Sophia, consisting of two semi-domes and two shield walls that support the main dome, was adopted from two sultan's mosques: the Beyazıt Mosque and the Suleymaniye Mosque. However, this remained the only major loan from the Hagia Sophia, because the Ottoman prayer room was intended to have a completely different effect on those praying than the Byzantine room should. Instead of a mystical atmosphere, the structures of which were clad behind golden mosaics and which emphasized the length of the apse , the structures in the mosques were emphasized, which showed the viewer the statics and basic elements of the room. The transversely rectangular prayer room is often emphasized in accordance with the prayer rite and a congruence between external and internal effects is sought, among other things through the completely different lighting.

By the middle of the 16th century, influences of early Ottoman architecture, Byzantine, Seljuk , Iranian and occasionally Italian Renaissance architecture developed into the classic Ottoman architectural style with the domed cascades that appear so typical in the cityscape. This phase lasted until the 17th century. The greatest architect of the Ottomans was significantly involved: Mimar Sinan . He not only worked architecturally, but also urban planning with its social building complexes ( Külliye ). Since large areas of the once magnificent metropolis were lying fallow before the conquest, some of which had been more like gardens and agglomerations of villages for centuries, the typical Islamic residential quarters closed by dead ends could arise. Such a Külliye often acted as the nucleus of a settlement. In other parts of the city, however, the buildings continued to align themselves with the right-angled ( Hippodamian ) street network, with mosques breaking out of this pattern, as they had to point towards Mecca. This sometimes results in attractive architectural solutions for the buildings around them. While stone was used in the construction of Külliyen, the houses and also numerous palaces and summer villas were mostly made of wood.

In the 17th century the period of the Ottoman grand mosques ended, although the Yeni mosque was completed here after construction was interrupted. The delay was due to economic difficulties, but palace intrigue and unrest such as the Celali uprising also played a role.

The Beyazıtt Tower (left) and the Suleymaniye Mosque (right)

From the 18th century, the architecture came more and more under the influence of Western European styles, such as the Baroque of the Nuruosmaniye Mosque , the Beyazıt Tower or the Baroque Laleli Mosque . However, in the search for adequate forms of expression, the builders did not give themselves entirely to modern art styles. Mosques and universities ( medrese ) were built according to the classical model, enriched with western architectural elements.

This was followed by Sultan Mahmud II. Buildings in a kind of Empire style , for example his Türbe . At the same time, baroque buildings continued to be erected, such as the Nusretiye Mosque, whose architectural decorations are in a late Louis XV style. Architects soon began to use neo-Gothic elements, often in an eclectic , historicist mix of styles that still characterized the First National Architectural Movement. In the 19th century, Ottoman architecture was practiced almost exclusively by the Armenian family of architects Balyan . In the simultaneous borrowing from a wide variety of western architectural styles, the desire to create a synthesis that should embody the imperial idea is recognizable.

A specialty of Istanbul are streets with mostly multi-story Ottoman wooden houses. You can still find them mainly in Fatih and Üsküdar. Summer villas made of wood (Yalı) on both banks of the Bosporus, which have recently been partially renovated, are also characteristic. The Amcazade-Hüseyin-Pascha-Yalısı in the Beykoz district, built in 1699 as the residence of a grand vizier, is the oldest Yalı in Istanbul. In the 19th century, based on European models, apartment buildings with shops and craft workshops were built in the basement.

Beylerbeyi Palace

The Topkapı Palace was the residence of the sultan's family ( harem ) and the seat of the ruler until 1856 . This multi-parted sultan's palace, which has been expanded and redesigned again and again, is exposed at the tip of the peninsula between the Golden Horn , the Bosporus and the Sea of ​​Marmara . It is of great importance not only because of its buildings, but also because of its extensive collections, one of the great treasure houses in the world.

The Ibrahim Pasha Palace is located on the old hippodrome across from the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. It was built in the time of Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512). After repairs between 1966 and 1983, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art is now housed there.

The Aynalıkavak Palace was built by Sultan Ahmed I as a summer residence at the beginning of the 17th century . The Dolmabahçe Palace from 1856 on the European side of the Bosporus shows that the sultans in the 19th century also strove externally to adapt to the European west. The Beylerbeyi Palace was built by Sultan Abdülaziz between 1861 and 1865 . In 1935 the first World Women's Conference, organized by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk , took place here. Other palaces are the last sultan's palace, the Çırağan palace as well as the Küçüksu palace and the Yıldız palace .

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

The large mosques were mostly donated by the sultans , their family members, the viziers and other dignitaries. Most mosques follow the Hagia Sophia building idea .

The domed prayer room also includes a delimited forecourt (avlu) and mostly a Külliye with medresen , for example used as a primary school (mektep) , theological school or medical school, with student living quarters (hücre) , hospital (dar-üş-şifa) , hospice (tabhane) , soup kitchen ( imaret ) , library (kütüphane) , caravanserai (kervansaray) , bath ( hammam ) and grave buildings ( Türbe ) , sometimes with an observatory for time and calendar calculations (muvakkithane) . They play a big role in the religious year, which is based on the lunar year.

Mosques from the early Ottoman period are the Mahmut Pascha Mosque, the oldest surviving grand mosque from 1462, and the Beyazıt Mosque , the oldest surviving sultan's mosque. Examples of at least 22 of the former 49 Istanbul Friday mosques designed by the architect Mimar Sinan are the İskele Mosque in Üsküdar, the first mosque created by Sinan, the Prince 's Mosque , the Suleymaniye Mosque , the Rüstem Pascha Mosque and the Piyale Pasha Mosque . Mosque.

Other well-known mosques are the New Mosque , which is located on the Golden Horn, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque , also known as the “Blue Mosque”, the Fatih Mosque (Conqueror Mosque ), which was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1766, and the Eyup Sultan -Mosque named after Muhammad's standard-bearer Abū Ayyūb al-Ansārī and is a major spiritual sanctuary in Islam . Mosques that arose in the Ottoman Baroque are the Nuruosmaniye Mosque , whose dome was originally made of white marble and which has a semicircular forecourt, the Tulip Mosque, which was completed in 1763 and renewed after the earthquake of 1783, the Nusretiye Mosque, the Dolmabahçe -Mosque, which is right on the banks of the Bosphorus , and the Ortaköy Mosque . In 2019, Turkey's largest mosque, the Çamlıca Mosque, was opened on the Asian side of the city.

Alevi Tekken and houses of prayer (Cemevi)
Şahkulu Sultan Dergahi Cemevi, a house of prayer (Kadiköy)

Some of the most famous Alevi Tekken with their tombs and cemevi include the Karaca Ahmet Sultan Dergahi (Tekke) in the Üsküdar district , the Şahkulu Sultan Dergahi (Tekke) in the Kadıköy district , the Erikli Baba Dergahi (Tekke) in the Zeytinedeu district and the Garipinedeu district Küçükçekmece district . The Tekken are usually several centuries old and have a museum. They are still very important places of worship and prayer for the Alevis , Bektaschites and Alevi clergymen. There are also many other tombs of Alevi clergymen in or around these tekken. Today these are mainly visited by Alevis and tourists . The Tekken are active associations and libraries etc. Alevi prayers as well as cems or other events are held here regularly. One of the largest Cemevis is the Kartal Cemevi in ​​the Kartal district . In total there are around 65 Cemevis in Istanbul.

Modern Istanbul in the 20th and 21st centuries

Until the end of the 1920s, the architecture of the republic was still completely under the spell of a phase that had already begun after the First World War and was called the “First National Architectural Movement”. During this phase, architects such as Kemalettin Bey continued historicism, which in the late 19th century was based on Seljuk and Ottoman models, especially with the ornamental exterior design of buildings. These include the Beşiktaş İskelesi (ship landing stage), which was built in 1913, the Haydarpaşa İskelesi (1915), the Vakıf Hanı in Eminönü (1912-1926) and the Hotel Merit Antique in Lâleli (1912-1922)

From around 1930 onwards, foreign architects were increasingly hired to plan public buildings. They largely removed the "Turkish" ornaments from the facades and maintained an international, functional style. As teachers, they passed their views on to Turkish architects.

Bruno Taut (1880–1938) is considered the developer of the “Second National Architectural Movement”. As head of the architecture department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul and head of the building department in the Ministry of Education in Ankara, he demanded a detailed analysis of the architectural style of the Ottoman period and the earlier eras. On this basis, modernism was to be overcome and a unique Turkish architectural style found.

TV tower Endem

The architecture of Istanbul in the last few decades has been characterized by a heterogeneous mixture of styles, which offers a wide variety of aspects, from the Sinan modeled mosque to high-rise buildings with an international look, from historic hotels to faceless residential areas.

The buildings by the architect Sedad Hakkı Eldem, which were built in the "Turkish" style, include Sosyal Sigortalar Külliyesi (1970), Ataturk Kütüphanesi (1976), Koç Holding AS Nakkaştepe Tesisleri (1986), the Hotel InterContinental in Beyoğlu (1968), Barbaros Plaza (1987), Yapı ve Kredi Bankası (1995), İşBank Tower 1 (2000), Sapphire of Istanbul (2009) and Diamond of Istanbul (2010), all of which are in Levent and are the tallest buildings with heights of over 100 m form in Istanbul.

The television towers in Istanbul that were built after the 1960s include the 166 meter high Çamlıca television tower in the Çamlıca district of the same name in the Üsküdar district and the 236 meter high Endem television tower in the Büyükçekmece district. The 365-meter-high Küçük Çamlıca television tower has been under construction since 2016 and should be completed by the end of 2019.


The European districts are connected via the Golden Horn by the Galata Bridge (new construction from 1992), the Ataturk Bridge and the Haliç Bridge (Fatih Bridge), over which a bypass highway runs. In the Büyükçekmece district, an arched bridge, the Kanuni-Sultan-Süleyman Bridge , completed in 1567 , is only used by pedestrians.

There are three suspension bridges over the Bosporus for motor traffic. The Bosphorus Bridge with a length of 1074 m was opened in 1973 and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge with a length of 1,090 m was opened to traffic in 1988. The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge was completed on March 6, 2016 and officially opened to traffic on August 26, 2016.

Streets and squares

Taksim place

The Taksim Square in Beyoğlu is the busiest square in Istanbul. From here streets lead in all directions, including Tarlabaşı Bulvarı to Fatih, Cumhuriyet Caddesi to the northern district of Şişli, İnönü Caddesi towards Beşiktaş and İstiklal Caddesi down to Tünel Square. Taksim Square is a regular venue for demonstrations. Probably the bloodiest event in recent history occurred on May 1, 1977, when participants in a union rally were shot at by strangers from nearby houses. At least 34 people died and hundreds were injured and 453 arrested.

The Republic Monument , commemorating the founding of the Republic in 1923, is located on Taksim Square . İstiklal Caddesi is the most famous street. It leads from Tünel Square via Galatasaray Square to Taksim Square. On Galatasaray Square is a former imperial school, the Galatasaray High School . The Bankalar Caddesi is also located in Beyoğlu. In the Ottoman Empire, many financial institutions and businesses had their headquarters on this “bank street”, including the Ottoman Bank .

Monument protection

The first systematic monument protection project in Istanbul was initiated by the city ​​administration towards the end of the First World War , after fires and looting led to the destruction of important monuments during the chaos of war. The project was directed from 1917–1918 by the German art historian and journalist Friedrich Schrader , among others .

Since the sixties Çelik Gülersoy has made a special contribution to the protection of historical monuments in Istanbul. He had numerous art-historically significant buildings in the city secured and, with the “Istanbul Library”, he had an important collection of literature on the history of Istanbul's monuments. Parts of the old town of Istanbul have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 .


Main entrance to Yıldız Park

The Yıldız Park ("Star Park") extends behind the Çırağan Palace on the slopes of the European shore of the Bosphorus. There are sultan's villas in the park, including the Yıldız Palace . There is also an opera house, a mosque and a factory . At the end of the 19th century, the Ottoman tradition of using loosely grouped smaller buildings in a park landscape as residential and functional buildings was continued. The approximately 160 hectare park was originally designed by the French landscape architect G. Le Roy. He planted rare and exotic trees, bushes and flowers. The park was illuminated with the new technology of electric light and kept dry by drainage . Carefully laid out paths provided access to lookout points. The park was renovated by the Turkish Touring and Automobile Club (TTOK) in the 1980s.

The miniaturk in Beyoğlu is one of the largest miniature parks in the world with an area of ​​6 hectares . There are more than 105 miniature models on a path that represent the building eras of the Ottoman Empire, including 45 miniature models of Istanbul alone. They include the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapı Palace , but also the two wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus . Miniature models of some sights outside of Turkey such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem were also created.

Gülhane Park

The Gülhane Park ("Rose House Park") is located within the outer walls of the Topkapı Palace and occupies the western part of the Serailspitze. It was once part of the outer garden of the Topkapı Palace. Part of the outer garden was opened to the public in 1912. In the past it was a place for knightly games and archery competitions, today it is a wooded public park with concerts, tea gardens and other offers. Geologically, the park is on the slope of Eminönü. The Gülhane Park has been restored in recent years, the hiking routes reorganized and the large pool renovated in a modern style. The natural landscape of the 1950s has been replaced by trees dating from around 1800.

The Büyük Çamlıca Park marks the highest point in Istanbul at 267 m . Three coffeehouses in the style of the 18th century crown the park, which is lined with pine, oak and cypress trees. The Çamlıca TV tower is nearby . By the end of the 1970s, the facilities on Çamlıca Hill fell into disrepair; it was disfigured by illegal buildings and converted into a parking lot until the city administration opened up the hill for tourism in the 1980s. On the instructions of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan , the construction of one of the largest mosques in the world is planned on the site of the remaining park.

Despite the upgrading of the green spaces, Istanbul has hardly any green spaces and not a single large city park, according to the Istanbul CHP City Councilor Mehmet Berke Merter . According to him, each citizen has less than one square meter of usable parking space. The Directorate for Parks and Gardens of the Greater Istanbul Municipality, on the other hand, only gives the sum of all green areas per capita at 6.05 m².

Kerem Ateş, general secretary of the environmental organization TÜRÇEK, added that the disappearing green spaces are the reason for heat waves and lack of oxygen in the city and that they would turn the city into a “concrete desert”. The time , according to the situation will worsen, as are planned on the forest areas around Istanbul major projects, including a new airport, a third bridge over the Bosphorus and other highways. It is also said that the lack of green space has led the city government to designate even narrow green strips on motorways as “parks”.

The Gezi Park (“walking park”), which is located next to Taksim Square, is based on a design by the architect Henri Prost and is one of the last green spaces in the city center. Here, too, according to Akif Burak Atlardem, the secretary of the Istanbul City Planning Chamber, development is being planned on Erdoğan's instructions. The construction project involves the reconstruction of the Topçu barracks , demolished in 1940 , which is to be built as a shopping center with luxury apartments and a hotel.


The Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium, the venue for the 2008/09 UEFA Cup Final

As in the rest of Turkey, soccer is the most popular sport in Istanbul. The city is home to numerous football clubs, including five teams from the Süper Lig , Turkey's top division. They include the three most successful teams in the history of Turkish league football, the 19-time champion Fenerbahçe Istanbul , the 21-time champion, UEFA Cup and Supercup winner Galatasaray Istanbul , the 15-time champion Beşiktaş Istanbul , and Istanbul Başakşehir and Kasımpaşa Istanbul .

Fenerbahçe Istanbul plays its home games at the Fenerbahçe Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in Kadıköy. Galatasaray Istanbul plays in the Türk Telekom Arena in Seyrantepe with a capacity of 52,650 seats. The Ataturk Olympic Stadium is the home of the first division club Istanbul Başakşehir. It was awarded a five-star stadium in 2004. Beşiktaş Istanbul is the oldest sports club in Istanbul (football department since 1911) and has played its home games since the old İnönü Stadium in the Beşiktaş district was demolished and the stadium was also rebuilt in the Ataturk Olympic Stadium. Beşiktas istanbul has been playing its home games in the Vodafone Arena since 2016 .

Also basketball and volleyball are very popular. There are several professional clubs, including basketball ( Efes Pilsen Istanbul and Fenerbahçe Ülker ) and volleyball ( Eczacıbaşı Istanbul and Vakıfbank Güneş Sigorta İstanbul ), which train players in their own schools. Golf , sport shooting , horse riding and tennis are becoming more and more important, but are mostly run by foreigners and wealthy locals. Numerous fitness studios are available for aerobics , bodybuilding and gymnastics . Paintball is represented in two large clubs near Istanbul. Far Eastern sports such as Aikido and yoga have become more and more popular in recent years. There are several centers in town where they can be practiced.

From 2005 to 2011 the Turkish Grand Prix took place in Istanbul . The venue was the Istanbul Park Circuit in the Asian part in the Kurtköy district, which belongs to the Tuzla district. The main grandstand of the racetrack offers 26,250 covered seats. In addition to the main grandstand on the start and finish straight, there are nine further grandstands and five open areas on hills for a total of 125,000 spectators.

Istanbul hosted the 2000 Chess Olympiad and the 2012 Chess Olympiad . The city has applied to host the Summer Olympics a total of five times (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2020). None of these applications were successful.

freetime and recreation

Wooden house and horse-drawn carriage: typical attributes of Büyükada , the largest Prince Island , the resort for many Istanbul residents

Because of the pollution of the sea, traditional bathing resorts in the city gradually disappeared, but in the last few years some old places have been reopening due to the improved quality of bathing water. The most popular places within the city include Bakırköy, Küçükçekmece, Sarıyer and the Bosphorus, outside the city there are the Princes Islands , Silivri and Tuzla on the Marmara Sea and Kilyos , Riva and Şile on the Black Sea .

The Prince Islands are a group of islands in the Sea of ​​Marmara in front of the districts of Maltepe and Kartal. With their pine and pine forests, wooden, Art Nouveau-style summer villas from the turn of the 20th century, horse-drawn carriages (motor vehicles are not allowed) and fish restaurants, they are an important excursion destination. Four of the nine islands are inhabited.

Entrance of the Galatasaray Hamamı

Şile is a well-known Turkish seaside resort on the Black Sea, 50 kilometers from Istanbul. Since the 1980s, holiday resorts and hotels have been expanded. Outside of Şile you can find white sandy beaches.

Kilyos and Riva are small, quiet seaside resorts not far from the entrance of the Bosporus to the Black Sea. The steam baths in Istanbul's old town are also very popular for relaxation. The best-known and most visited steam baths are the Beyazıt Hamamı, the Çardaklı Hamamı, the Çemberlitaş Hamamı (built by Sinan in 1584) and the ceramic hammam in Fatih, other steam baths are the Galatasaray Hamamı in Beyoğlu and the Alter Hamamı in Üsküdar.

The Hıdiv forest is located directly on the Bosphorus in the Beykoz district on the Asian side. There is the residence of the Egyptian governor Abbas Hilmi Pascha . There are also some fountains and water basins, various cafes, restaurants and private leisure areas.

Another local recreation area is the Belgrade Forest (Belgrad Ormanı) in the north of the Eyüp district, around 20 kilometers from the old town. The approximately 5500 hectare forest offers leisure facilities, picnic areas, riding and hiking trails. He was in the 18th century by Sultan I. Abdulhamid created.

There is a dolphinarium in Eyup .

Regular events

Marathon runners cross the Bosporus on the Bosporus Bridge in the 30th Istanbul Marathon 2008

The Newroz Festival (Turkish: Nevruz Bayramı ) takes place on March 21st . For example, in Cankurtaran (Sultanahmet) there is a big open-air event every year.

At the end of April, the International Istanbul Film Festival will be held in Beyoğlu in several cinemas. This oldest and most important international film festival in Turkey took place for the first time in 1982.

On April 23, the national sovereignty and child holiday is celebrated with a morning parade on İstiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu, where children show folklore and make music.

At the one-week International Ülker Puppet Festival Istanbul at the beginning of May, Karagöz performances are offered in various cultural centers in the city, as well as international performances. Also in May, companies and ensembles from all over the world present their pieces at the International Istanbul Theater Festival . This festival alternates annually with the International Istanbul Biennale .

Orthodox Easter often falls in May and is celebrated by the Greek Orthodox communities as their highest annual church festival.

The Istanbul International Music Festival in June is mainly devoted to ballet and opera performances as well as orchestral and chamber music, mostly in the former church of Hagia Irene and in the Ataturk cultural center on Taksim Square. On the longest days of the year, the Efes Pilsen One Love Festival has been offering a wide spectrum from pop and hip-hop to Latin and punk since 2001 . Up to 15,000 spectators come together for this two-day festival in the arts and culture center Santralİstanbul .

Parade on Liberation Day (Zafer Bayramı) in Istanbul

Every year in July, the National Olympic Committee of Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Milli Olimpiyat Komitesi ) organizes the Eurasian swimming competition in the Bosporus , in which the strait is crossed from the European to the Asian part of Istanbul. The two-week Istanbul International Jazz Festival offers international and local music from fields as diverse as conventional jazz , electronica , drum and bass , world music and rock , including in the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theater, İstanbul Modern , in the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall , the Istanbul Jazz Center and the Nardis Jazz Club. Another event is the largest open-air concert in Turkey: The Rock'n Coke rock festival , which has been taking place since 2003 with up to 50,000 visitors in mid-summer and has been held in the Istanbul Park Circuit since 2009 . The Turkish Grand Prix , a Formula 1 race , has also been held there since 2005 .

The Gay Pride Istanbul (Istanbul Onur Yürüyüsü) , which takes place in June or July, is the largest gay parade in all of Eastern Europe with 100,000 participants .

On three days in August, international DJs and electronica acts alternate on eight open-air stages at the Electronica Istanbul Festival . Their spectrum ranges from house to trance to mashup . The Liberation Day (Zafer Bayramı) takes place on August 30th, commemorating the victory of Başkomutanlık Meydan Savaşı in the Turkish War of Liberation .

The national holiday of the Republic (Cumhuriyet Bayramı) takes place on October 29th, commemorating the proclamation of the Republic by Ataturk in 1923. The Istanbul Marathon has been held in autumn since 1979 . The start is in Üsküdar on the Asian side of Istanbul and the finish in İnönü Stadı or in front of the Dolmabahçe Palace when the Beşiktaş Istanbul football club has a home game. During the marathon, the Bridge of the Martyrs of July 15 and the Galata Bridge are crossed. The Istanbul Biennale , organized by the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts , has also been taking place in autumn since 1987 .

Culinary specialties

Due to the strong migration from all parts of the country to Istanbul, the culinary offer mirrors the whole of Turkey, almost all regional specialties are also offered in Istanbul restaurants. There are also more and more restaurants that offer international cuisine. As a result of Istanbul's coastal location, seafood has traditionally been very popular in the city. Ottoman cuisine is mainly offered in restaurants in Üsküdar , Kadıköy and Beyoğlu . Kosher cuisine can be found in Beyoğlu and the old Stambul. The Istanbul food that has a special character or value is Lokum , a sweet confectionary made from sugar (originally honey), cornstarch (originally wheat flour), pistachios, almonds, nuts and other ingredients. Traditional companies produce up to 18 types of Turkish delight, for example enriched with extra pistachios (twice roasted pistachios), with a rose aroma, with mastic, with coffee, with cinnamon or with ginger. Another Istanbul specialty is boza , a slightly alcoholic cereal drink made from wheat or millet. Boza is mainly drunk in winter. Kokoreç are grilled or fried sheep entrails that are popular as street food all over Turkey. A distinction is made between two Kokoreç variants, between the Istanbul variant and the Izmir variant . The Istanbul variant is mixed with chopped tomatoes , onions and spices (mainly cumin and chilli powder) and grilled rolled up on a tray or on a skewer.

retail trade

Kapalı Çarşı

The Grand Bazaar ( Kapalı Çarşı ) is open on working days. It is fully covered and hosts many Hans , halls, streets and alleys, antiques, carpets, jewelry or ceramics are sold in the shops of various goods. Another big market is the Egyptian Bazaar ( Mısır Çarşısı ). It was built in 1660 on the instructions of the mother of Sultan Mehmed IV (1642–1693). Spices, fruit, vegetables and animals are traded there. In the triangle between the Grand Bazaar, the Egyptian Bazaar and the Suleymaniye Mosque you will find a large number of shopping streets and alleys with stalls, open shops, factories, and small department stores called Hans and Pasaj . As in the older cities of Europe, these streets still bear the names of the professions that used to manufacture and trade here. The Balık Pazarı in Beyoğlu is a large fish market, but fruit and vegetables as well as meze and rakı are also offered here. Street vendors are everywhere; so the sellers of drinks or sesame rings ( Simit ).

As in all larger cities in Turkey, numerous large business complexes, called AVM (Turkish Alışveriş Merkezleri for shopping centers), based on the American model, have also emerged in Istanbul in recent years. One of the most important shopping centers in Istanbul is the Forum AVM in Bayrampaşa , which with 495,000 square meters is probably the largest shopping center in Europe. In addition to various retailers, it also includes a branch of the Swedish furniture store IKEA , as well as an underwater zoo and an ice sculpture gallery. The second largest shopping center in Europe, the Şişli Kültür ve Ticaret Merkezi is also located in Istanbul, more precisely in the Şişli district . Further shopping centers in the European part are the Capacity and Carousel in Bakırköy with several department stores, boutiques and restaurants, the Akmerkez in Beşiktaş in the Etiler district with branches of all well-known brands, boutiques, an entertainment center with amusement arcades, cinemas, restaurants and fast-food chains, the shopping centers Metro City and Kanyon in Levent and in the Asian part the Capitol in Kadıköy with many shops, restaurants and cinemas.

Economy and Infrastructure


The Levent business district

40 to 50 percent of Turkish economic output is concentrated in the Marmara region. In its center, Istanbul, 31 percent of the gross domestic product is generated. The high diversification of the economy means that in 2005 almost half of all Turkish exports came from Istanbul. In addition, the city is the headquarters of the Turkish press and publishing industry. In 2017, the gross domestic product (GDP) generated was 970,189 million Turkish lira (approx. 235 billion euros ). The GDP per capita was 65,042 lira (15,786 euros) and, adjusted for domestic purchasing power, was above the EU average .

Istanbul's economy has seen a general upward trend, with downturns, since the markets were liberalized in the 1980s. This trend is confirmed by studies that rank Istanbul among the 50 fastest developing cities in the world. The Levent district in the Beşiktaş district and Maslak in the Şişli district are the two main financial and economic centers. The new Istanbul financial center is currently being built on an area of ​​3,200,000 square meters on the Asian side in Ataşehir . The gross domestic product has increased by an average of five percent per year since 1980. The Asian crisis between July 1997 and the beginning of 1998 and the crisis in Russia between August 1998 and mid-1999 were felt in all areas, especially in exports , and had negative effects on the economy.

When, despite this burden, a slow recovery of the Istanbul economy was observed around mid-1999, the earthquake of August 17, 1999, with its epicenter near Kocaeli east of the city, caused the second economic shock after the crisis in Russia . In addition to the capital losses and human losses caused by the disaster, there was a decline in GDP of around one to two percent. The economic life dominated by services is dominated by the stock exchange, wholesale, transport, banking, press and publishing sectors.

There are several bazaars as well as western-style shopping streets. The craft and industrial companies mainly produce textiles and food. Leather and artificial leather goods as well as ceramic products are also important. The construction of buses and tractors as well as diesel engines is also an important branch of the economy. New industrial plants have been built on the Bosporus and the Sea of ​​Marmara.

Tourism is an important branch of the economy. The range of hotels is suitable for the large number of visitors. In 2019, a total of 14,906,663 tourists came to Istanbul, including 1,192,533 tourists from Germany , 417,386 from the United States , 521,733 from the United Kingdom , 1,147,813 from Iran and 804,959 from Saudi Arabia.


Long-distance transport

With two airports, two bus stations, two train stations, the port and its motorway network, the city is an important hub in national and international long-distance passenger and freight transport.

Road traffic
Esenler bus station

From Istanbul, buses run to all major cities and regions in the country, as well as to some destinations in Europe and the Middle East. The Esenler bus station, with 15,000 bus movements daily in the European part of the city, is one of the largest bus stations in Europe and one of the most important transport hubs in the country and in Southeastern Europe. The 242,000 square meter area occupied by the bus station is located in the European part in the Bayrampaşa district, near the Esenler district that gives it its name.

Despite extensive expansion, the motorway network around Istanbul is often unable to cope with the sharp rise in traffic. In addition to the two ring motorways, O-1 with a total length of 87 kilometers and O-2 with a total length of 38 kilometers, motorways lead to Edirne ( O-3 ) and Ankara ( O-4 ). Three motorway bridges (including the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge , Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge ) and the Eurasia Tunnel cross and cross the Bosphorus and connect Europe with Asia.

According to TomTom , Istanbul has the second largest traffic density in the world.

Rail transport
Entrance building of the no longer used Haydarpaşa train station

Long-distance rail transport is extremely modest for a city of this size. There are two long-distance train stations with only a few trains per day. One reason for this is the dominant role of bus transport in Turkey.

The Sirkeci station , the historic end point of the Orient Express , is the final stop for all railway lines on the European side. In 2012 long-distance trains operated by the Turkish state railway company TCDD to Bucharest , Sofia and Belgrade as well as to the border station Uzunköprü .

From the Haydarpaşa train station on the Asian bank of the Bosporus, the starting point of the historic Baghdad Railway , TCDD trains run several times a day to Ankara, less often to other destinations in Anatolia, and once a week to Tehran and Aleppo .

Since there was no rail link between the European and Asian parts of Istanbul until 2013, the two stations were connected by the Eminönü - Haydarpaşa passenger ferry . There is still no railway line across the Bosporus, but a tunnel was built as part of the Marmaray project and opened on October 29, 2013. Railway ferries continue to operate for freight traffic , as the access routes to the tunnel have not yet been completed.

Maritime transport
A ship passes the strait

The Ambarlı Limanı is the port of Istanbul in the Avcılar district . It is the largest port in the country and took first place in 2006 in terms of the tonnage of bulk cargo handled. Around 38 percent of Turkey's imports and exports and 63 percent of the Marmara region are handled in the port . He is from the ALTAŞ Ambarlı Liman Tesisleri Tic. A.Ş. which was founded on September 9, 1992. The Haydarpaşa Limanı in Kadıköy is also an important port, which is the main port in the Asian part of Istanbul with an area of ​​55,000 square meters. There is a train connection from the port to the nearest terminus, Haydarpaşa .

The old port on the Golden Horn is primarily used for passenger shipping. There are regular services to Haifa in Israel and Odessa in Ukraine. From Bostancı there are ferries to Bursa and Yalova .

air traffic

Istanbul has two international airports : the larger of the two is Istanbul Airport in the north of the city in the Arnavutköy district . The smaller one is Sabiha Gökçen Airport , 45 kilometers east of the city center in the Pendik district. The Ataturk airport on the edge of the European part of the city in the district of Bakırköy , 24 kilometers west of the city center, was closed in April 2019 scheduled flights and will be shut down in the next few years gradually.

City and local transport

Schematic network plan with metro, S-Bahn, tram and metro bus
Metro network (including S-Bahn, light rail and expansion projects)

The enormous inner-city traffic does not suit the Ottoman structure of the city and its self-contained quarters. The buildings of such a district ( Mahalle ) are grouped almost concentrically mostly around a Friday mosque. Few public driveways (Tarîk-i âmm) and narrow private roads (Tarîk-i hâss) , often dead ends, define the labyrinthine image. There are no thoroughfares. These quarters are only loosely connected to each other.

After the Second World War , wide streets and wide squares were created for automobile traffic in old Istanbul with international advice. A main axis was formed by a thoroughfare from Sultan Ahmet to beyond the land wall, which is still important today and which is based on the Constantinian road system. The situation was similar in the Asian districts. More open streets, on the other hand, have always been determined by the Genoese Pera or Galata in today's Beyoğlu.

In the meantime, inland and through roads as well as connecting roads to the districts on the periphery have been built throughout the city, with the old buildings being largely destroyed.

Tram and subway were gradually expanded; With the S-Bahn connection under the Bosphorus and the connection of the metro lines on the European side at Yenikapı and on the Asian side at Ayrılıkçeşme to the S-Bahn line, a coherent local rail network has now emerged that will be gradually expanded over the next few years becomes. Many lines are designed to bring commuters from the suburbs to the center. For a closed local transport system, the underground lines would have to be expanded to 505 km, which should be achieved by 2019.

Road traffic
Metro bus system in Istanbul

Buses, shared taxis ( Dolmuş ), taxis and private cars play an important role. The yellow taxis make up a significant proportion of the total traffic. Since there are only a few rail routes, the city buses carry the main burden of local public transport. There are bus stations at important junctions, such as in Taksim, Eminönü or Beyazıt. Taksim is also the main inner-city end point for Dolmuş lines.

Metrobuses ( Metrobüs ) have also been used by the city administration since September 17, 2007 . The metro buses and buses are operated by İETT . Currently (as of April 2015) there are eight lines, all of which contain the number 34 (34, 34A, 34AS, 34BZ, 34C, 34G, 34U, 34Z). The 34 is not a random line name, but a special number for Istanbul, as it is the district number of the city (which is used for license plates and postcodes).

Trucks are responsible for transporting goods. From time to time you can still see a porter (Hamal) , especially on the stairs of the shopping streets between the Grand Bazaar and the Galata Bridge.

Rail transport
Çağdaş Tramvay
Levent Station on the Istanbul Metro
The "Tünel" at the
Karaköy valley station

The S-Bahn main line (Banliyö tren) of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) connects Europe with Asia in a 13.6 km long tunnel in the Marmaray railway tunnel every four minutes. To the west and east of the tunnel, the lines are undergoing a modernization process that will be completed in 2015. Until 2013, the unlinked S-Bahn lines B1 and B2 ran on both sides of the Bosphorus along the Marmara Sea and connected the coastal towns there with the inner city train stations Sirkeci on the European (route length 30 km) and Haydarpaşa on the Asian side (route length 44 km ). On January 4, 1871, the first section of the İstanbul Sirkeci – Swilengrad railway from Küçükçekmece to Yedikule was opened on the European side . It was extended in 1872 from Küçükçekmece to Halkalı and from Yedikule to Sirkeci terminus. In 1874 the line was in operation all the way to Edirne . The Asian route went into operation on September 22, 1872 on the Pendik – Feneryolu section. In 1873 it was extended out of town to Gebze and inward to the Haydarpaşa terminus.

The Metro with the lines M1 to M4, the rail Hafif metro (line T4), the tram lines T1 and T3, as well as the funicular Kabataş-Taksim Funicular (F1) of the Istanbul ulaşım operated. However, the operator of the Nostaljik Tramvay and the Tünel is İETT .

Hafif Metro

The Tünel -Bahn between Karaköy and Tünel-Platz in the Beyoğlu district on the hill is a 574-meter-long underground funicular without a line name, which was opened on January 12, 1875. It is the third oldest subway in the world, if one calls it a subway.

The F1 funicular line goes from Kabataş on the Bosphorus up to Taksim Square . This underground funicular was opened on June 30, 2006 and connects the end points, which are about half a kilometer apart, in 110 seconds.


There are three tram lines in the greater Istanbul area. Two of them are operated by İstanbul Ulaşım.

The T1 tram line runs right through historic Istanbul (route length almost 20 kilometers). The opening took place on June 13, 1992 on the Beyazıt - Yusufpaşa section. The line was extended in several sections to the Zeytinburnu district (January 31, 1994). The extension from Sirkeci station to Eminönü (April 20, 1996) and then on to Kabataş also brought the connection via the new Galata Bridge to the districts north of the Golden Horn. Since February 4, 2011, line T1 has continued from Zeytinburnu to Bağcılar; thereby the former line T2 from Zeytinburnu to Bağcılar was dissolved.

Railcar 202 is a T57, ex Tw 102 from Jena

Tram line T3 is a museum tram between Kadıköy and Moda in the Asian part of the city. It opened on November 1, 2003. It is a one-way, 2.6 kilometer long ring route that follows an impressive course through the hilly and narrow streets of the district. The route is served by various Gotha ( T57 , T59 ) and Reko cars (TZ 70), almost all of which come from the Jena tram . The line designation 20 can be read on the vehicles (however, this is not a valid line designation).

The Nostaljik Tramvay is a 1.6 kilometer long, historic tram with no specific line name, which runs in the former Pera Street and today's İstiklal Caddesi in the Beyoğlu district between Tünel Square and Taksim Square. The line, which uses historic vehicles, was opened on April 12, 1990 and has been operated by İETT ever since .


There is a lot of shipping traffic between the European and Asian districts. Car ferries and passenger ships cross the Bosphorus at frequent intervals. The most important ferry terminals are in Bakırköy, Eminönü, Karaköy and Besiktaş on the European side and in Beykoz, Kadıköy, Kartal, Maltepe and Üsküdar on the Asian side. Ferries run daily between the three Prince Islands Büyükada , Heybeliada and Kınalıada and the Bostancı district in the Kadıköy district. The ferries are operated by İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri A.Ş. operated.


The headquarters of the national daily newspaper Hürriyet in Güneşli in the Bağcılar district

In Istanbul all 34 nationally oriented daily newspapers appear in the nationally centered press: In addition, 14 district newspapers are state-registered.

Istanbul is the seat of global television and radio networks such as the news channel NTV , the television channels Samanyolu TV and ATV and the radio TRT-Istanbul .

Over a thousand film and series productions, including the series Kurtlar Vadisi and the continuation of the series Kurtlar Vadisi Pusu , have so far been shot in the metropolis on the Bosphorus. Many entertainment programs and talk shows are recorded in the city.

Public facilities

Of the 190 hospitals in Istanbul, 52 belong to the fourth level of care . The German Hospital (Turkish Alman Hastanesi ) founded in 1852 in Hasanpaşa in the Kadıköy district is one of the oldest hospitals in Istanbul.

The Police Headquarters ( İstanbul Emniyet Müdürlüğü , short İEM) has existed since 1932. It is responsible for the entire province of Istanbul. The police headquarters are in the Fatih district. The Istanbul Police Headquarters employed around 26,800 officers in 2009. Police chief is Hüseyin Çapkın.

Education and Research

Istanbul Technical University

In 2009, Istanbul was home to 4,350 schools that attended 2,991,320 students. The most important universities are the Istanbul University, founded in 1933 , whose roots go back to 1453, the Istanbul Technical University founded in 1944 , which emerged from an engineering school founded in 1773, the English-speaking Bosphorus University , the Marmara University , the Technical University opened in 1911 Yıldız University and Fatih University, which opened in 1996.

Other colleges include Bahçeşehir University , Beykent University , Naval War School ( Deniz Harp Okulu ) , Doğuş University, Galatasaray University , Haliç University, Air Force Academy (Hava Harp Okulu) , Işık University , the Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul Kültür University, Istanbul Ticaret University, Kadir Has University, Koç University , Maltepe University , Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts , Okan University University, Sabancı University and Yeditepe University . There is the Turkish-German University in the Beykoz district .

General secondary schools are the state and private Turkish-speaking school, the Galatasaray grammar school in Beyoğlu, the foreign-language state grammar school, the İstanbul Lisesi in Fatih, other foreign-language private grammar schools such as the Austrian St. Georgs College and the Istanbul German School in Beyoğlu and the Anadolu Liseleri (Anatolia grammar schools ), which were originally set up for Turkish children who had returned from abroad, such as the Üsküdar Anadolu Lisesi with German as the first foreign language and specialist instruction in German.

Important Istanbul research institutes are the Marmara Research Center ( TÜBITAK Marmara Araştırma Merkezi - TÜBİTAK MAM) in Gebze , which with around 650 researchers is the largest non-university research center in Turkey. It includes the institutes for information technology, energy, food, chemical and environmental and materials research, as well as earth and marine sciences. A technology park is also connected to the research center.

sons and daughters of the town

Istanbul was the birthplace of numerous prominent personalities. The best known include the politician and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan , the politician Bülent Ecevit , the CEO of Daimler AG Dieter Zetsche , the journalist and editor-in-chief Abdi İpekçi , the football players Emre Belözoğlu and Nihat Kahveci , the writer Orhan Pamuk , the singers Serdar Ortaç and Mustafa Sandal , the actors Mehmet Ali Erbil and Cem Yılmaz and the founder of Galatasaray Istanbul, Ali Sami Yen .


Web links

Commons : Istanbul  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Istanbul  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: Istanbul  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

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  2. ^ New mayor in Istanbul: Opposition candidate Imamoglu declared the winner . In: Spiegel Online . April 17, 2019 ( [accessed April 17, 2019]).
  4. MasterCard 2016 Global Destination Cities Index. (PDF) Mastercard , September 2016, accessed on September 22, 2019 .
  5. The administrative area ( Memento of the original from February 28, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: . İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi [Istanbul City Council], accessed July 15, 2009. (English) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
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