Some cities become world centers for a period of time and then fade away. There are many that have held this distinction throughout time. Then there are those very rare cities that always seem to stay in the middle of things and remain a place that is both important and attractive. Perhaps no city fits this second description more than Istanbul Turkey. This city that straddles two continents has been a world capital for more than 2,500 years and it remains one today. Here is why.
Istanbul, the Ancient City
Since before 600 BC, the City known today as Istanbul has been a thriving metropolis. It has historically been called Constantinople and Byzantium, and has always been an economic and commerce center that has had a steady pulsating heart that reached across the known world.
Today, Istanbul is the most populous city in Turkey and the country’s economic, cultural, and historic center. Istanbul is a trans-continental city, straddling Europe and Asia in an area called Eurasia. The city sits atop the Bosphorus Strait, between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side of the city, and about a third of its population lives on the Asian side.
Turkey is a truly remarkable and storied country dating back to the oldest civilizations and contributing greatly to what we know as government and society today. It also sits in Central Asia actually marking the point between the two continents.
During its more than 2500 years in existence, its premiere city Istanbul has stood as a obstacle separating the majestic powers, religions and cultures that have come to the forefront of the world, and as it has played this role, each of these has become a part of the city. So there is much old about Istanbul and as you walk its ancient streets you can feel it.
Istanbul, the Modern Metropolis
But in spite of its elder city prestige, Istanbul is an international megalopolis comparable with the grandest of cities today. To gain a full understanding of the city’s specialness, one must have a real desire to know it. The cities long, narrow and winding streets can often seem oft-putting, but when you know that there is a new treasure around every turn, you begin to understand why the destination is not as rewarding as the journey through Istanbul streets.
Istanbul, the Perfect Destination
As you sample the unique food found here, offering a mix of Asinan, Middle Eastern and the best of Europe, you can view the sights that include the Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Dolmabahçe Palace, and the Grand Bazaar. Each hundreds of years old and still as beautiful as the day they were created. Try the fine desert and sip on the local drink Raki, made from local anise.
There are many rooftop restaurants here that at night turn to nightclubs holding hundreds and with views of the city skyline or the water. There are also dozens of cafes, bars and late night eateries catering to every style and taste and open all hours of the night.
When you are in the mood to shop, you can expect every international designer to be here and a huge assortment of small local shops selling food, clothing, spices, fabrics and local crafts. Be prepared to bargain to get the best deal from the merchants and may be even meet a celebrity or two in town.
This ancient city has lasted so long because it has always understand what people want and it has given it to them.