Istanbul

Istanbul

İstanbul,by far the largest city in Turkey,is traditionally where Europe meets Asia,a fascinating melting-pot of cultures with a history that stretches back thousands of years.Its location,on the land bridge between the two continents,ensured its status for many centuries as the capital of the civilised world.It is today a city full of colour and mystery, with sightseeing opportunities to rival any destination in the world-this is after all the Byzantium and Constantinople of legend.

The Old  City where you’ll find most of the main sights,is to be found in the European half of Istanbul,on the western shores of the Bosphorous,the stretches of water that separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Marmara. The premier attraction is undoubtedly the Topkapi Palace and Museum,the residence of the ruling Sultans for almost three centuries-don’t miss a guided tour of the Harem!Close by is the church of St.Sophia(Aya Sofya), crowned by the soaring dome that is today one of the most famous images of Turkey:an architectural masterpiece whose stained glass,golden mosaics and sheer size will take your breath away.Contrast this with the elegant perfection of the Blue Mosque ,the fascinating collections to be found in the city  world-class museums,and the vibrancy of the covered Grand Bazaar,with its 4000 shops and stalls,and you begin to understand the attraction of Istanbul. To come to Turkey and not to visit this wonderful city is to miss out on something unique;it is quite simply the heartbeat of the Turkish spirit.Here at Koral Travel,we’re big fans of Istanbul ,and want to introduce its charms to as many of our guests as possible,and so for summer 1999, for the firs time,we are offering a choice of air and coach excursions from all our beach resorts. 
Istanbul (Lat. 28-30° E., Long. 41° N.) is situated between the Marmara and the Black Sea. This unique setting gives it a mixed climate, partly Mediterranean, partly Central European, and partly Black Sea, and the temperature varies considerably from season to season. In spring and autumn the Lodos (S. Wind) prevails, often heralding rain; in winter the Karayel (NW. Wind) brings cold and snow; in summer the N.E. breezes bring clear mild weather. The average annual rainfall is about 25", most of which falls in winter. Autumn is the best season, long. and beautiful; spring comes sud-denly after a short winter. The Golden Horn (Halic): Separating Beyoğlu from Old Istanbul, this narrow tongue of water stretches nearly 5 miles from Saray Point to the mouths of the Alibey (Byzantine Kidaris) and Kagithane streams; it is widest (770 yds.) between Kasimpasa and Cibali. Its ancient name Chrysokeras (Golden Horn) is attributed to the sim- ilarity of its shape to a bull's horn, or alternatively to its abundance of fish. It is a superb natural harbor. The Bosphorus (Bogaz ici): Dividing Europe from Asia, and Istanbul into 2 parts, the Bosphorus flows for 17 miles from the Black Sea to the 1 1/4 mile long Kanal, which connects it with the Sea of Marmara. It is narrowest between Anadolu and Rumeli Hisan. Its European name is derived from Vosphoros (bull-bearing) or Vosporos (bull-passage). Legend relates that lo, daughter of King lolchus of Argolis, swam the straits in the form of a heifer to escape the wrath of Zeus. Land and Sea Passage; Istanbul's position as the Land's End of Europe, pointing east, her excellent harbors, her advantageous position on the land route from Europe to Asia and the sea-route from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, have all combined to make her from earliest times an important commercial and political center, and she developed rapidly and always played a significant part in history.
İstanbul: A World City : Mosques, churches, synagogues, palaces, city walls, museums, parks, seaside mansions and the Bosphorus with its mesmerizing beauty are associated with İstanbul, the queen of cities. The unique Haliç Bay (the Golden Horn), a horn-shaped bay which is one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the world is a port of this city. Small bays and woods, green slopes and all kinds of other scenic wonders of the world are an integral part of the city. The Bosphorus and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges remind one of a necklace… İstanbul is a city of synthesis, which in an atmosphere of tolerance, unites the culture, art and religion of the East and the West, at the crossing of two separate continents. It is the meeting point of Europe and Asia ;There, God and human beings, nature and art, created such a perfect place on earth which is well worth seeing,  said the famous French author Lamartine about this unique city.

It is Turkey largest and most prominent city in terms of its population, location, economy, trade, wealth and culture. One third of the country  manufacturing industry output and almost half of the income tax paid to the state come from this city and its environs. It is the country  largest export port, the starting point of Turkey  waterways, the most important center from which airways connect Turkey to other countries of the world. The majority of the capital, banks, influential holdings and companies, educational and health institutions are located in this city. The history of the city, qualified as the  Capital of Empires,  dates back to ancient times. The city was founded by the Megaras in 658 B.C. and was named Byzantium after their commander Byzas.

This historical peninsula, within city walls between the Marmara Sea and the Golden Horn, is like an open-air museum full of architectural monuments and art, bearing traces of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The hills of the city are adorned with more than 500 mosques. Among these mosques, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque with its six minarets, built by Sultan Ahmet I in the 17th century, is the symbol of İstanbul. The Suleymaniye Mosque, which is also one of the most beautiful and magnificent examples of architecture in İstanbul, was constructed by Mimar (Architect) Sinan, upon the order of Kanuni Sultan Suleyman (Suleyman the Magnificent) in the 16th century. This mosque, in which architectural aesthetics reached its peak, is perched like a crown on the hills of the Golden Horn. The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, dating back to the 16th century, is the best illuminated mosque of İstanbul with a total of 161 stained glass windows.

Topkapı Palace, the residence of Sultans and political center of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years, is located on a hill dominating the Bosphorus, the Marmara Sea and the Golden Horn. Today, the palace is a museum, and the world famous Chinese porcelains, thrones ornamented with gold and precious stones, the garments of the Sultans, jewelry, handwritten books and holy artifacts that are on display are interesting for people of different cultures and religions coming from all around the world. Another magnificent palace is the Dolmabahce Palace which was built by Sultan Abdulmecit. It is surrounded by 56 columns and is famous for its ceremonial hall, illuminated by a 4.5 ton chandelier. Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, passed away in this palace on November 10, 1938.

The most magnificent architectural work of the Byzantine era in the city is the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) Museum. The original Ayasofya was built by Emperor Constantine as a basilica in the 4th century but was destroyed by a fire. Emperor Justinian rebuilt it in the 6th century. The dome is 55 m. high and 31 m. wide. It is the oldest and the fourth largest dome in the world after the domes of St. Peter Cathedral in Rome, St. Paul Cathedral in London and the Duomo Cathedral in Milan. The Kariye Museum also displays beautiful examples of Byzantine art with its mosaics and frescoes. These frescoes, which date backto the 14th century, influenced and guided the European Renaissance. The Yerebatan Cistern, with its 336 columns, constructed by the Byzantines in the 6th century to meet the water needs of the city, is also worth seeing.

Besides these places of interest, there are many more museums and monuments in İstanbul. Among these are the İstanbul Archaeological Museum, the Ataturk Museum, the Sadberk Hanım Museum, the Mosaic Museum, the Museum of Industry, the Jewish Museum, the Tower of Leander (Kız Kulesi), the Galata Tower, the Roumelia and Anatolia Fortresses and the İstanbul City Walls.

The Kapalı Çarşı (Covered Bazaar), which dates back to the 15th century and has 4,000 shops, is one of the places frequently visited by tourists. Jewelry, antiques, carpets, silver and copper souvenirs, leather and suede garments, woodcarvings and carvings with mother-of-pearl are available in this bazaar.

Furthermore, it is possible to find every type of spice at the Mısır Carsisi (Egyptian Bazaar). The edifice which houses the bazaar was commissioned by Hatice Sultan in the 17th century.
İstanbul is also a modern center for shopping. Along with shopping malls, such as the Ataköy Galleria, Akmerkez, the Capitol, the Carousel and CarrefourSA, Profilo, Kule and Kule Carsisi İstiklal, Rumeli and Bağdat Avenues are the most distinguished shopping areas of the city.

İstanbul is also among the prominent cultural centers in the world with its various music and cinema festivals, theaters, operas, ballets, concerts, international symposia, conferences and competitions.  The International Culture and Art Festival , organized every year in June and July, hosts famous artists from all over the world.

The Bosphorus and the islands of İstanbul, which also host important international sports organizations, are ideal for sailing. The city, which also has an improved potential for yacht tourism, is an international yachting center. The Ataköy Marina at the European side, as well as, Kalamış and Fenerbahce marinas at the Asian side provide cheap but high quality facilities for yachtsmen.

Kilyos and Şile are holiday resorts near İstanbul which are known for their beaches. Polonezkoy (Polish Village) is a village where Polish immigrants came and settled in the 19th century, it is surrounded by forests and a perfect choice for vacationers. The Belgrade Forest, which is a national park, is known as the  lungs  of İstanbul. The Ataturk Arboretum and the aqueducts built during the Ottoman period, which are located in this forest, are also worth seeing. There are expansive areas suitable for playing golf in Silivri and Kemer.
ISLANDS
There are nine islands in the Sea of Marmara to the southeast of Istanbul, the Demonesia (People's Islands) and Papadonesia (Priests' Islands) of former days. Four of them-in order from the Is-tanbul approach, Kinali, Burgaz, Heybeli and Buyuk Ada, are inha- bited, 2 are considered useless and 3 are too small to be inhabited. During the decline of Byzantium, fallen Emperors and dignitaries were confined, blinded and with shaven heads, in the monasteries and convents. The islands are now a popular residential area and summer resort. They may be reached by boat from the Galata Bridge: for the best view the luxury class is the best.

Kinali (Henna) (Gr. Prote): This small but pleasant island takes its name from the reddish rocks seen on the approach. The slopes are open or covered with undergrowth, and there is a little town on the east and a cliff on the west. Lower, facing Burgaz, is a cafe among the pines. The climate of Kınalı is mild. Burgaz (Gr. Antigone): The Greeks named this attractive island after Alexander's General Antigonus, who came there in 298 B.C. The Turkish name probably comes from the Greek pyrgos, a tower, remains of which survive from a fort on the peak. Burgaz is covered with pines, with a good beach on the south. The Greek monastery and church were built in 842 by the Empress Theodora. The tiny island of Kasik (Gr. Pita) opposite was once used as a place of exile.

Heybeli Ada (Saddlebag Island) (Gr. Halki from Khalkos=brass); This charming pine-covered island, with its three ruined monasteries, was used in Byzantine days as a place of exile; many a nobleman and patriarch who meddled with politics was sent here, and Sir Edward Barton, first English ambassador to the Ottoman court, died here in 1597. Copper was once worked here, hence the former name. Cam Limani (Pine Harbor) is a popular bathing and picnicking spot, wrth a little cafe and on the Burgaz side there is a pleasant beach and restaurant. There are also good hotels and pensions. Cars are not allowed, and the best way to see the beauties of the island is by carriage or donkey: it is beautiful by day, and even more so by moonlight, and the scent of pines and mandarines adds to its charm.

Buyuk Ada (Big Island) (Gr. Prinkipo): In the sixth century the Emperor Justin II built a palace and a monastery here. The convent, now ruined, is also of that period. The monastery was restored in 797 by the Emperess Irene, who was blinded and confined here by her son Constantine VI, impatient for the throne. Later Michael II, the Stammerer, who had murdered the Emperor Leo V, fell in love with Euphrosyne, imprisoned in a convent by her grandmother Irene: he married her, but on his death she was again imprisoned by her stepson. Here also Zoe was confined by her adoptive son Michael V. The island, sacked by Latins, Venetians and Russians between 860 and 1302, was afterwards inhabited only by fishermen, until the eighteenth century, when it again began to be developed. Now there are many charming villas and gardens, with a wealth of flowers throughout the year, especially carnations. Trotsky was held in a villa here after escaping from Russia. There are good restaurants and hotels near the quarry. Transport is the same as on Heybeliada, and steamers run to Maltepe, Pendik and Yalova.

The Uninhabited Islands: The first two are Sivri (Sharp) (Gr. Oxya), conical in shape, with some remains of convents, former places of exile, and Yassi (Flat) (Gr. Platy), also with a ruined 11th century monastery used for the same purpose. Owing to violent currents, both are better approached by motorboat. Beyond Buyuk Ada is Tavsan (Rabbit) Island, where rabbits were bred in the 19th century. The Patriarch Theodore was banished here in 1183 by Andronicus Commenus. There is also a Byzantine tomb. Finally, beyond Tavsan, is the islet of Neandros.
BEYOĞLU
Beyoglu (Gr. Pera) : This is situated on the high ground north of the Golden Horn, and grew up gradually among the vineyards with which the hills were once covered, and developed as the European and diplomatic quarter. It is still the most cosmopolitan part of Is- tanbul. The 2 main squares, Taksim and Tunnel Squares, which lie at each end, are connected by Istiklal Caddesi, from which side streets diverge on both sides. Beyoglu means «Son of the Prince» 
Taksim Square (Taksim Cumhuriyet Meydani) ; Taksim, the greatest square of Istanbul and scene of national ceremonies and parades, takes its name from the word, for it was for- merly a center of distribution of the water supply. It gradually devel- oped from its former constriction and ugliness, and was laid out in its present impressive form by the Municipal Council in 1941. Turkey's finest opera house, the Ataturk Culture Center rises on its eastern side.
The Monument of the Republic : This impressive memorial to the War of Liberation was erected in 1928. The figures are those of the leaders in the Revolution on the right, Ataturk: on the left Inonu, second President of the Republic, and in military uniform, Marshal Fevzi Cakmak, a great supporter of Ataturk in the War of Liberation. On the other face, Ataturk gives his army the order to begin the attack which led to the final expulsion of the Greeks.
The Tunnel Square: Small, but important as a traffic focus, this square is the point from which the Sisli, Macka and Kurtulus buses leave, and the Tunnel begins.
The Tunnel: This 660 yard tunnel, constructed in 1873 by a French engineer largely with English capital, is reputedly the world's oldest underground railway, and provides a regular service between the low ground of Galata and Karakoy, and the high ground of Beyoglu.
The Galata Tower Built by the Emperor Zeno, according to tra-dition, in the 5th century, and rebuilt by the Turks at the Conquest, and used by both as a lookout post. The top, of wood, in Genoese days, was twice destroyed by fire, but restored immediately. It commands a good view of the city from the Saray Point to the Mosque of Fatih, and is used as a restaurant and night club.
Dolmabahce Palace: When the harbor was filled in, Ahmet I built a wooden kiosk here, and later other kiosks and gardens; it became a summer residence of the Sultans. After being enlarged and attached to the Besiktas Palace, burnt down and rebuilt, used as a residence by Mahmut 11 for a time, and again damaged by fire, it was finally built in its present form in 1853 and used as a residence by several Sultans. It contains the separate quarters of the Sultan, his heir, his mother, the ladies of the court, and also the glass kiosk. The Sultan® reception rooms include 8 great halls. The palace is full of European luxuries, and one sees many imitations of Versailles. European and Turkish architects were employed, so the style is hybrid. Part of the furniture was also imported from Europe, and the decorators and upholsterers were specialists from France and Italy. Money was spent lavishly on this palace, and the use of such costly materials as porphyry and crystal was unsparing. It was in this palace that Ataturk died in 1938. Beyond the Dolmabahce Palace, we follow the main street to the gate of...
The Museum of Fine Arts and Sculpture: This museum contains examples of pictures by Turkish painters. Turkish painting, was lar- gely stimulated and influenced by European painting, as was also the much younger sculpture, of which a few examples may be seen here. There is in addition a room containing a few pictures by European masters, and a room of reproductions of great master- pieces. Further along, by the Besiktaş landing-stage, the tomb and statue of Barbaras stand in a small park.
The Statue of Barbaros ; This statue, erected in 1943, comme- morates the great Turkish sailor who In 1538 defeated the Doge of Genoa, Andrea Doria, at the decisive naval battle of Preveza. This battle won for the Ottomans the supremacy over the Mediterranean. Opposite the park is the Mosque of Sinan Paşa, built in 1572 by Sinan the architect.
The Naval Museum :  Situated at Besiktas near the Statue of Barbaros, this museum gives a general picture of the history of the Navy and the Ottoman Empire and also modern Turkey. It contains old charts, documents, models of ships and plans of harbors etc. Leaving Besiktas towards Ortakoy, wo pass under a bridge connecting the palace gardens, and, turning left up the road past the Mecidiye Mosque, just after it we come to the gates of...
The Yildiz Palace: The Yildiz kiosk was first built here, on the high ground above Besiktas and Ortakoy, in 1850. Abdulaziz built another in its place which was extensively altered and enlarged by Abdulhamid II. The main building, with the men's quarters, the women's quarters, those of the staff and the library, is on the hill, but there are many other buildings scattered about the beautiful gardens, which Abdulhamit laid out with flowers, rare trees, a pond, cascades, and aviaries. He also built the Cihan Kiosk as a lookout tower. 
The Merasim (Ceremony) Kiosk :  This is one of the most beautiful kiosks in the park; here Abdulhamit received many visiting monarchs and foreign dignitaries. Its valuable carpet (700 sq. metres) is the largest in the world. It is said that the door and mother-of-pearl inlay of the salon facing the double staircase in front of the Kaiser's bedroom were done by Abdulhamit himself, for his hobby was joinery.
The Malta and Cadir (Tent) Kiosks :  These kiosks, architecturally undistinguished, have some historical interest. At the Cadir kiosk in 1876, Mithat Pasa, father of Turkish liberalism, who proclaimed the Fundamental Law and the first Constitution, was arrested before his mock trial in the Malta Kiosks. He was banished and murdered in exile at the Sultan's orders.
The 33 .years of Abdülhamit's reign saw a decaying regime of growing oppression and reaction, and he was finally deposed by an Army movement in 1908.
Military Museum:  This unique collection of oriental weapons, uniforms, etc., formerly housed in the Church of St. Irene, is of great interest, and goes back before the Conquest.
The Topkapi Palace Museum :  Sultan Mehmet II. called Fatih. the Conqueror, after conquering Istanbul in 1453, built his first royal palace in the Forum of Theodosius, on what are now
the grounds of Istanbul University, in the district of Beyazit. Later, impressed by the situation of the Byzantine acropolis at today's Saray Point, dominating the confluence of the Bosphorus,
the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, Fatih gave orders for the construction (1475-1478) of what we know as the Topkapi Palace. In fact an earlier royal structure, the the Tiled Kiosk, was built in Fatih's reign lower down on the landward slope of the Byzantine acropolis. The Topkapi Palace, besides being the royal residence of the Ottoman Turkish Sultans, was also the administrative heart of the empire of the Turks. The Divan; the Ottoman equivalent of a Council of Ministers— met there, all important official ceremonies were held at the palace, and the widest frontiers of the empire were in constant communication with the palace. In the reign of Abdullmecit in the 19th-century, the palace showed signs of physical decay, and was abandoned as the royal residence as succeeding Sultans built, inturn, the, palaces of Dolmabahce, Beylerbeyi and Cıragan. Finally, on April 3, 1924, the Topkapı Palace, by now called the Palace, was converted to a museum, the indentity it wears today. The precincts of the Topkapi Palace Museum consist of four vast courtyards, separated from each other by three great portals or entrance ways. The complex itself is divided into numerous suites of rooms, indiviudal kiosks, gardens, articificial basins and fountains, and other constructions situated throughout the courtyard areas. From the .first gate, called the Bab-i Humayun or Imperial Gate, overlooking Sultan Ahmet Square, one enters the palace's Alay Meydanı or Courtyard of the Procession, the first courtyard of the Topkopi Palace. In imperial times, this courtyard was the scene of eleborate royal ceremonies that celebrated victories, mourned deaths or hailed births, paid honor to religious days and national holidays of all sorts. At the end of the first courtyard, rises the Bab-i Selam (The Gate of Salutation). Both sections of this gate are fortified by two octagonal towers. From this gate, which leads to the Topkapi Palace's second courtyard, we step into that courtyard which is named the Court of the Divan. Before the gate, the fountain seen to the right, is the Executioner's Fountain, Those condemned to death by Ferman royal order of the Sultan, including inhabitants of the palace itself, were beheaded on the spot, after which the executioners cleansed their hands and the instruments of beheading at the Executioner's Fountain. Only the Sultans themselves could enter and pass through the Orta Kapi, or Middle Gate, on horseback. All others had to proceed on foot. The right side of the second Courtyard is covered completely by the palace kitchens. Here it was possible to cook the food, and to concoct the sweets, required by all those thousands who made up the imperial household and its staffs. The section on the left side of the courtyard, is called the Kubbe Alti, or «Under the Dome.» Here may be found such important parts of the palace as the İç Hazine or the Inner Treasury. And it was in this section that functioned the very center of the palace's official life. History tells us that the Second Courtyard of the palace, was at times captured and occupied by revolutionary forces, and that on occasion even certain Sultans themselves were brought before the third gate to the Ayak Divani. Entrance is obtained to the Third Courtyard through the Third Gate, called the Bab-i Saadet, or the Akagalar Kapisi, the- latter name meaning White Aghas' Gate. This gate is the most important entrance to the palace of Topkapi. In front of the gate is a revaca pavilion or gallery— supported by marble columns. During the ceremonies attending the accession of the Sultan to the throne, the throne itself was set up here, as it was during religious holidays or when the Sultan received official acts of homage. And it was here that the Flag of the Army was handed to the Sadrazam, or Grand Vizier, just before the army set off on a new campaign. The Third Courtyard is the area where the private life of the palace went on. This courtyard is called the Enderun Aviusu. The building just ahead as soon as one passes through the gate, is the Arz Odasi, the equivalent of a throne room. All ceremonies of reception were held here. At the rear of the Arz Odasi, the throne room or Room of Ceremonies, is found the Library of Ahmet III. At the end of this courtyard, and through the stairway of today's Museum Directorate building, there is a passage leading towards the section of royal kiosks or pavilions. This is also called the fourth section of the palace. The most important features of this section are the Mecidiye Kiosk, the Mustafa Pasha Kiosk, the Revan Kiosk, and the Baghdad Kiosk. These kiosks were the scene of important events in the history of the Ottoman Empire, even those that might have shaped the history of the world.