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Istanbul, a masterpiece of Cultural and Archaeological Treasures: Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi, Bosphorus and other unique historical inheritances….. Explore Byzantine wonders, Binge on Shopping, spin with the Whirling Dervishes….

  1. Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Asia and Europe. The historic center is located in the European side of the city (3% of Turkey). 77% of the country is on the Asian side. The Bosphorus divides the city and links the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Cross the 2 continents through the Galata bridge.
  2. Istanbul is home to 3113 mosques.
  3. Istanbul, being the ancient capital of many empires (from Rome to the Ottoman era), is not the modern capital. Ankara is. Ankara declared the republic’s capital by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923.
  4. Istanbul, named as Constantinople by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, is built on seven hills like Rome.
  5. Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city with more than 13 million people – 99% are Muslim.
  6. Recent evidence suggests that people have lived here for 8500 years.
  7. Turkey’s gift to the world: Tulips. Tulips, the symbol of Holland, originated in Istanbul and were sent from Istanbul to Netherlands. The first tulips bulbs were sent from the Ottoman Empire to Vienna in 1554; later sent to Augsburg and Amsterdam. It was the Dutch ambassador, at the times of Süleyman’s court, who returned to Amsterdam with a clutch of tulip bulbs. In April there is a week-long festival in Istanbul to honour the national flower; concerts, arts events…
  8. The Grand Bazaar is the biggest old covered bazaar in the world, with over 3.000 shops, covering 61 streets.
  9. British author Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel “Murder on the Orient Express” at Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul.
  10. Originally named the Tower of Christ, the Galata Tower was built in 1348 at the apex of fortified walls and was used to house prisoners of war. Later it became an observatory that offers a 360-degree view of the city
  11. Istanbul was the inspiration of several authors, like Paul Theroux, Ernest Hemingway, other.
  12. The 4 bronze horses of the San Marco Cathedral in Venice, were taken by the crusaders from Constantinople in the 13th century.
  13. Istanbul has the 3rd oldest subway in the world, built in 1875. 573-meter long and located in Beyoglu district. There is a tunnel under the Bosphorous connecting Marmaray rail system between Asia and Europe.
  14. Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world. It lost its status for about 900 years until the Seville Cathedral was built in 1520. Hagia Sophia collapsed and was rebuilt three times since the 4th century AD.
  15. The Whirling Dervishes is thought to be a path to reunion with God.Leonardo da Vinci envisioned a bridge over the Bosphorus, 471 years before the first one was built.
  16. A 19th century French poet and traveller, Alphonse de Lamartine once said, “If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul”.
  17. The first ever Christian church was located in Antioch, Turkey. St Peter’s Grotto, located outside Antioch, known now as Antakya, is believed to have been created by Jesus’ disciple Simon Peter. This makes it the oldest place of Christian worship in the world. If you’re looking for more churches in Turkey, head to the southeast of the country. Diyarbakır and its surrounding area are peppered with some fine religious monuments such as St. Mary Church.
  18. Santa Claus was born in Patara, Turkey. St Nicholas – the historical figure behind the man we know as Santa Claus – was born in Patara, Turkey in around 300 AD. People believe he performed miracles, saving sailors from sinking ships, a Holy man. Not only did tales of his generosity become the basis for Santa Claus, but St Nicholas also became one of the patron saints of sailors.
  19. Topkapi Palace in Istanbul is home to Ottoman sultans and their court til the middle of the 19th century.
  • Turkey is the birthplace of Aesop, Herodotus and St. Paul the Apostle. Paul the Apostle (known as Saul) was born in Tarsus. Aesop, the famed Greek storyteller grew up in Thrace on the Black Sea (now Nesebar). The Greek historian Herodotus, was born in what is now Bodrum.

Turkey is responsible for 75% of the world’s hazelnut exports.

  • There are over 30 languages spoken in Turkey including Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish), Mesopotamian Arabic and Zazaki.
  • It’s officially illegal to wear a Fez in Turkey.
  • Turkey’s Black Sea coastline stretches for 1,175 km. (equivalent to the driving distance between London and Venice). Trabzon, a romantic city with medieval landmarks is a Must-visit. Sinop is one the most beautiful parts of the Black Sea coastline.