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Istanbul Overview

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Istanbul is the largest and the most populous city of Turkey. It also serves as the financial and cultural centre. It is located on both the sides of Bosphorus between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. The city has several historic monuments originally from Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires

When Ibn Batutta visited the city in the 14th century, it was still not under the Ottomon empire and was called Constantinople. At the time it was the largest and the wealthiest city in Europe founded by the Romans on the site of the existing city Byzantium. The city took over six years to be built and was sanctified in 330. A new square was laid out in the centre of old Byzantium and was named as Augustaeum.

On the southern part of the square the Great Palace was built, which can still be seen in the courtyard of Istanbul Archaeological Museums. From the Augustaeum a street called as Mese led from the First Hill to the Second Hill passing the Praetorium or law-court. The city was located at a strategic location at the trading route between the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. Constantinople also served as the capital of the Latin Empire.

The Ottoman rulers made the area as its capital and not only preseved most of the rich heritage, but also enhanced it with its own blend of Ottomon architecture and culture. Some of the most beautiful Masaajid of the Islamic world can be found in Istanbul. These include the Atik Mustafa Pasha Masjid, Bodrum Masjid, Eski Imaret Masjid and the Fenâri Îsâ Masjid.

Today Istanbul is one of the most sort after destinations in Turkey. It has many world famous sites, attraction and monuments like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Masjid or the Blue Masjid, and the Basilica Cistern situated around the Sultanahmet Square. The Theodosian walls date to the times when the city was called Constantinople and the walls are excellent to enjoy a walk.

A visit to Istanbul is not complete without enjoying a relaxing time at the hammam (traditional Turkish bath).  Travellers can enjoy shopping around the historic souqs that have an oriental touch. There are modern malls too in the city.

Istanbul has a variety of halal restaurants serving delicious Turkish and International cuisines. Visitors can gorge upon Balik-Ekmek (bread with fish), Patso, Doner, etc.

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Turkey Info

ADMINISTRATIVE/COMMERCIAL CAPITAL: Ankara

GEOGRAPHY

Shares boarders with, southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia countries, Turkey owns a coast line of 7,200 km's and a land area of 770,760 km².

DEMOGRAPHY

A population of close to 73.7 Million. Muslims account for about 99.8% of the population.

CLIMATE

Turkey's a huge country its climate varies widely from region to region and the season. July and september tends to be the peak tourist season. Central Anatolia where the Capital city Ankara is located experiances a steppe climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters.

LANGUAGES SPOKEN

Turkish is the official language. English is considered the main foreign language.

LOCAL TIME

GMT+2 hrs

BUSINESS HOURS

Government: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM
General: 9 AM to 5 PM

HOLIDAYS
New Year's Day: January 1st
National Sovereignty and Children's Day: April 23rd
Labour and solidarity Day: May 1st
Victory Day: August 30th
Republic Day: October 29th

Based on the lunar calandar:
Ramadhan

CURRENCY

Turkish Lira

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS

Police: 155
Medical: 112
Fire: 110

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