Istanbul, even though some still prefer to call it Constantinople, is the name of this city since 1930 when its name was officially changed to Istanbul. The word “Istanbul” is derived from the Greek phrase “εἰς τὴν Πόλιν” which means “to the city”. Even though the city was called “Der Saadet” meaning the “gate to prosperity” in Ottoman Turkish, the name Istanbul was preferred as it was used since the 17th century.
Istanbul, a historical city thanks to being the capital of several empires including Byzantium and Ottoman Empire, with its population of over 16 million people, is the most populous city of the Republic of Turkey (and also of Europe), or with its widely known name, Turkey. As it is the most populous city of Turkey, the city is thought to be the capital of Turkey, but the capital of Turkey is Ankara.
Istanbul is the country’s economic, cultural, and historic center. Turkey owes 31% of its total GDP to Istanbul. (according to 2019 reports) Moreover, the city’s economy is bigger than that of 130 countries, 25 of which is located in Europe. When it comes to the culture, much of Turkey’s cultural richness had its roots in Istanbul. It is culturally such an important city that in 2010, it was named as European Capital of Culture. If we need to speak about the history of the city, we can not tell it by words. So, we will not discuss its history besides one really and maybe the most important event in the city’s history: The Conquest of Istanbul. This was such a huge event that according to some historians, the early modern period of history begins with this event. This is because, after the fall of Constantinople, the feudalism system in Europe ended.
The historical importance of Istanbul is mainly due to its geographical location. It is located in north-western Turkey and it is divided into two by the Bosporus, which is the only way to go to the Black Sea from the Mediterranean Sea. So, historically it has been ideally located for trade and defense. Its defensive importance continues thanks to the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits. Thanks to that, the USA cannot send its warships to the Black Sea on which Russia has a border. As we have mentioned before, the city connects Asia and Europe, and it is not difficult to say Istanbul is also a cultural bridge between Asia and Europe just like its bridges that connect the two continents.
World Heritage Sites are areas or landmarks with legal protection by an international convention administered by UNESCO and 8 of these sites are located in Istanbul. This must affect tourists because Istanbul is also Turkey’s most visited city. In 2018, over 13.4 million foreign visitors visited the city, and this makes the city the world’s fifth-most popular tourist destination.
Istanbul is primarily known for its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Even though it is a Turkish city since 1453, the city still contains both Christian and ancient monuments.
The city has 39 districts that have their councils and mayors, but these districts are administered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. This system was brought from France by republicans known as young Turks. This system is now applied in all the cities of Turkey.
As Istanbul passed into other hands, it has been a cosmopolitan city throughout history. It continues to have that characteristic of its, but it has become more homogenized since the Ottoman era. There are more than 2 million Arabs, from 2 to 4 million Kurds, 3,000 Greeks, 123,363 Armenians, and 25,000 Jews in Istanbul.
The city is also important for domestic policy. The current president of Turkey was the mayor of Istanbul. A political party’s performance in Istanbul is seen as an example of its governance. The current mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoğlu, is wanted to be a presidential candidate by the opponents of the current government.
When it comes to the city’s other features, sports have an important part. Turkey’s oldest club, Beşiktaş JK, was established in 1903 in Istanbul. Also, the other two most important sport clubs of the country, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe were established in Istanbul. Beyond that, Istanbul owns many sports facilities and many of them have been built or upgraded since 2000. Istanbul hosted 2005 and 2020 UEFA Champions League Finals, 2009 and 2019 UEFA Super Cup Finals, 2001 EuroBasket finals, 2010 FIBA World Championship Final as well as the 2011 - 2012 and 2016 - 2017 Euro League Final Fours.
The oldest public high school, which was established in 1481, and the oldest university, which was established in 1453, in Turkey are located in Istanbul. Istanbul has more than 93 universities with 400,000 students. (according to 2016 reports)
After giving all the information we have given, it is important to say the city’s biggest problem is traffic. If you want to go from the easternmost district to the westernmost district of the city, it may take 3 hours via car. You guess the public transport.