10 facts about Istanbul flirting with two continents
Istanbul, which has been the capital of three different empires, will conquer your heart not only with its history, but with many more things as well. In addition to being the city connecting two continents, Istanbul is a metropolis with a lot of contrasts and superior traditional values. Some people call it “the capital of the world”, whilst others call it “the bridge between Europe and Asia”. In any case, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city with 13 million inhabitants and is one of the largest cities around the globe.
For this time around, I decided to share with you some interesting facts about this magnificent city in the Bosphorus. We suggest you to visit the city in order to discover its beauties – you will not be disappointed.
1. When Istanbul was part of the Ottoman Empire in the medieval times, there were 1,400 public toilets in the city. Public toilets were built for the first time in newly built mosques in the Ottoman Empire in the 1600s (during the reign of the Sun King in France). As known, Versailles were built without toilets. It is more probable than not that even in the palaces of the biggest kingdoms of Europe did not have toilets at that time.
2. Underground Metro line, the metro that has existed since 1875, is known as the predecessor of the Istanbul Metro, which is one of the oldest subways in the world. London (1863) and New York (1868) are the only subways that are older than that of Istanbul. The line which is called “the tunnel” consists of only two stations and connects two big squares.
3. From a historical standpoint, Istanbul was the capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire and then became the capital of the Ottoman Empire – Yet, today, Turkey’s capital is Ankara.
4. Four bronze horses that are now adorning the San Marco Cathedral in Venice, were stolen from Istanbul by the Crusaders in the 13th century. The horses were built in the 4th century BC and exhibited in the Hippodrome in the centre of Constantinople.
5. Agatha Christie wrote her best-known novel “Murder in Orient Express” at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul. Christie travelled on the train traveling between Paris Istanbul between 1883 and 1977. The last stop of the train was at Sirkeci station (the principal train station on the European side of Istanbul).
6. Istanbul Grand Bazaar is the largest bazaar in the world containing more than 3,000 shops.
7. The surface area of Istanbul is about half the size as Belgium however Istanbul’s population is greater than Belgium’s.
8. All residents, almost without exception, of Istanbul complain about traffic jams, but no one ever leaves Istanbul.
9. “The soil and stones of Istanbul are golden.” This slogan caused the people living in the countryside areas to move to the magical city in the 50s of the 20th century.
10. The world’s largest church-mosque (Hagia Sophia) is in Istanbul. It was declared as a museum with the decision of Kemal Atatürk in 1937, and it presents the influence of two ruling religions in the region.
There is a lot to talk about this city whose name was changed five times. It is impossible to discover all secrets of the city with a single visit. You will travel, be impressed, words will not be enough to describe the beauties of the city, but still, you will never learn all aspects of the pearl of the Bosphorus. It will always be a place you want to see again and again in your future visits and this feeling will be part of you forever.