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May 16, 2011

Istanbul: The Gateway To The East

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Written by: admin

Istanbul, formerly known as both Byzantium and Constantinople, is the kind of city you can really lose yourself in. After all, it’s not just the largest city in Turkey; it’s the second-biggest city proper in the world with 13 million inhabitants, just behind Shanghai. With stunning architecture from different societies, races, creeds and religious backgrounds, it is a truly multicultural destination.

This is reflected by the fact that is the only metropolis on Earth that is situated on two continents, having districts in both Europe and Asia that are separated by the Bosporus, a strait of water that leads into the Black Sea. However, the architecture is the biggest giveaway as to the fantastically diverse stylings of the city.

The Süleymaniye Mosque is the second-largest mosque in the city, reflecting the country’s proud Islamic traditions. Built as an Ottoman imperial mosque, it is only behind the world-famous Blue Mosque in size. This unique mosque is known for its grandiose courtyard and six minarets that tower over the surrounding landscape. They form various parts of the Historic Areas of Istanbul, which fulfil four categories of the World Heritage Site criteria with UNESCO.

Roman architecture, which predates the mosques, is also found as part of this collection of places in Istanbul. The Valens Aqueduct, built in the fourth century AD, was the main source of clean water for the rapidly-growing Byzantium. Emperor Constantine was also behind the incredibly complex Walls of Constantinople, which would later be overcome by the Ottomans in the 1400s with the advent of gunpowder-based cannons. Even Greek architecture remains, such as the Maiden’s Tower, a lighthouse featured in James Bond film The World is Not Enough.


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