Istanbul is the capital city of the Republic of Turkey, a transcontinental country. It is the largest city and country’s economic, cultural and historic center. Historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, this is the city that lies in both Asia and Europe.
About the city
Istanbul is the fifth-largest city in the world by population, is considered mainly European. One part of Istanbul lies in Europe and the other part lies in Asia. Istanbul’s European part is separated from its Asian part by the Bosphorus strait. This is a 31-km-long waterway that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. This forms a natural boundary between the two continents within the city. Two suspension bridges across the Bosphorus connect the two sides of the city. It is the Bosphorus Bridge and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (Bosphorus Bridge II). In 2005 the city boundaries were extended to engulf the former “Istanbul Province” on both the Asian and European sides.
Examples of cities other than this that are half-European and half-Asian also include Orenburg and Magnitogorsk of Russia. Also, Atyrau in western Kazakhstan lies in this category. Similarly, Suez in Egypt belongs to both Africa and Asia. But Istanbul is by the only metropolis in the world to be so.
The European side of Istanbul
The European side is the western half of Istanbul, located west of the Bosphorus and on the European mainland. Many tourists prefer to visit the European side of Istanbul because of its historical significance. The European side is also the city’s commercial center with banks, stores, and corporations and two-thirds of its population. It includes Istanbul’s old center, with classic sights like opulent Topkapı Palace and Blue Mosque. Hagia Sophia, a former church and mosque famed for its Byzantine mosaics. It was in this part that ancient Greeks founded the city of Istanbul around 660 BCE.
The Asian side of Istanbul
The Asian Side or the Anatolian Side is half of Istanbul that is on the Asian mainland, east of the Bosphorus. This side feels more relaxed, with wide boulevards, residential neighborhoods, and fewer hotels and tourist attractions. Today Kadıköy and Üsküdar are the main areas of visitor interest on the Asian side. The Asian Side houses about 4.4 million people, a third of Istanbul’s population. 1.3 million of them travel daily to Europe.
However, being the only water route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, the Bosphorus has been the site of significant settlements and cities for a long time. The particular importance is the Golden Horn. It is an estuary that joins the Bosphorus Strait. It joins at the immediate point where the strait meets the Sea of Marmara. Therefore, forming a sizable sheltered harbor.
AUTHOR: Aashi Bansal
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Featured Image Credit: I am Istanbul