Istanbul is the world’s only city that spans two continents (Europe and Asia), and it has been a crossroads of trade, culture, learning, and art for over 3, 000 years. Today it is visited each year by millions of travellers, coming to see the ancient city walls, walk through its beautiful churches and mosques, and taste its delectable cuisine.
Stretching over seven hills, Istanbul is amongst the largest cities in the world by population, with over 17 million inhabitants. It was founded on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660BC as Byzantium, but today it is a vast and vibrant city, one of the world’s most historically rich destinations. Istanbul is bounded by the Black Sea on the north and the Sea of Marmara in the south, and is referred to by many as a “bridge connecting the East and the West.” During its development the city was enlarged four times, moving the city walls further west each time.
Istanbul’s bustling city space is complimented by the stunning Golden Horn, a secure natural harbour stretching 7.5km between Galata and Seraglio Point. There are two legends explaining the name “The Golden Horn” – the first maintains that the Byzantines threw many valuable objects into it during the Ottoman Conquest, so many in fact that the water glittered with gold. The second story says that the name was given because of the stunning golden light that seems to emanate from the river as the sun goes down, one of the most spectacular views in the world.
Istanbul is accessible from all parts of the world, served by more than 300 international airlines. Besides air transport, visitors to Istanbul have several options; international train, ferry, bus services and other means of transportation connecting Istanbul to neighbouring European countries. The city has two international airports, Sabiha Gokcen Airport on the Asian side and Ataturk Airport on the European side.
Bosphorous Bridge Maiden's Tower