Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and fifth largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.6 million. Istanbul is also a megacity, as well as the cultural and financial centre of Turkey. The city covers 39 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European and on the Asian sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents.
Places to visit in Istanbul
Walls of Constantinople
Hippodrome of Constantinople
Along with the traditional Turkish restaurants, many European and Far Eastern restaurants and numerous other cuisines are also thriving in the city. Most of the city's historic winehouses (meyhane in Turkish) and pubs are located in the areas around İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu. The 19th century �i�ek Pasajı (literally Flower Passage in Turkish, or Cit� de P�ra in French) on İstiklal Avenue, which has many historic meyhanes, pubs and restaurants, was built by Hristaki Zoğrafos Efendi at the former site of the Naum Theatre and was inaugurated in 1876. The famous Neviz�de Street, which has rows of historic meyhanes next to each other, is also in this area.
Other historic pubs are found in the areas around T�nel Pasajı and the nearby Asmalımescit Sokağı. Some historic neighbourhoods around İstiklal Avenue have recently been recreated, with differing levels of success; such as Cezayir Sokağı near Galatasaray Lisesi, which became unofficially known as La Rue Fran�aise and has rows of francophone pubs, caf�s and restaurants playing live music.
Istanbul is also famous for its historic seafood restaurants. The most popular seafood restaurants are generally found along the shores of the Bosphorus and by the Marmara Sea shore towards the south of the city.
The largest of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara (namely B�y�kada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada) and Anadolu Kavağı near the northern entrance of the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea (close to Yoros Castle, which was also known as the Genoese Castle due to Genoa's possession of it in the mid-15th century) also have many historic seafood restaurants
There are many night clubs, pubs, restaurants and taverns with live music in the city. The night clubs, restaurants and bars increase in number and move to open air spaces in the summer. The areas around Istiklal Avenue and Nisantasi offer all sorts of caf�s, restaurants, pubs and clubs as well as art galleries, theaters and cinemas. Babylon and Nu Pera in Beyoglu are popular night clubs both in the summer and in the winter. The most popular open air summer time seaside night clubs are found on the Bosporus, such as Sortie, Reina and Anjelique in the Ortakoy district. Q Jazz Bar in Ortakoy offers live jazz music in a stylish environment. Venues such as Istanbul Arena in Maslak and Kurucesme Arena on the Bosporus frequently host the live concerts of famous singers and bands from all corners of the world. Parkorman in Maslak hosted the Isle of MTV Party in 2002 and is a popular venue for live concerts and rave parties in the summer
Istanbul has numerous historic shopping centers, such as the Grand Bazaar (1461), Mahmutpaşa Bazaar (1462) and the Egyptian Bazaar (1660). The first modern shopping mall was Galleria Atak�y (1987), which was followed by dozens of others in the later decades, such as Akmerkez (1993) which is the only mall to win both "Europe's Best" and "World's Best" awards by the ICSC; Metrocity (2003); Cevahir Mall (2005) which is the largest mall in Europe; and Kanyon Mall (2006) which won the 2006 Cityscape Architectural Review Award for its interesting design. İstinye Park (2007) and City's Nişantaşı (2008) are two new malls which target high-end consumers and are almost exclusively dedicated to world-famous fashion brands.
Fine and performing arts
Istanbul is becoming increasingly colourful in terms of its rich social, cultural, and commercial activities. While world famous pop stars fill stadiums, activities like opera, ballet and theater continue throughout the year. During seasonal festivals, world famous orchestras, chorale ensembles, concerts and jazz legends can be found often playing to a full house. The Istanbul International Film Festival is one of the most important film festivals in Europe, while the Istanbul Biennial is another major event of fine arts
Istanbul Modern, frequently hosts the exhibitions of renowned Turkish and foreign artists. Pera Museum and Sakıp Sabancı Museum have hosted the exhibitions of world famous artists and are among the most important private museums in the city. The Doğan�ay Museum – Turkey’s first contemporary art museum – is dedicated almost exclusively to the work of its founder Burhan Doğan�ay. The Rahmi M. Ko� Museum on the Golden Horn is an industrial museum that exhibits historic industrial equipment such as cars and locomotives from the 1800s and early 1900s, as well as boats, submarines, aircraft, and other similar vintage machines from past epochs
Istanbul Archaeology Museum, established in 1881, is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world. The museum contains more than 1,000,000 archaeological pieces from the Mediterranean basin, the Balkans, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Istanbul Mosaic Museum contains the late Roman and early Byzantine floor mosaics and wall ornaments of the Great Palace of Constantinople. The nearby Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum displays a vast collection of items from various Islamic civilizations. Sadberk Hanım Museum contains a wide variety of artifacts, dating from the earliest Anatolian civilizations to the Ottomans.
Occasionally, in November, the Silahhane (Armory Hall) of Sisli Palace hosts the Istanbul Antiques Fair, which brings together rare pieces of antiques from the Orient and Occident. The multi-storey Mecidiyek�y Antikacılar �arşısı (Mecidiyek�y Antiques Bazaar) in the Mecidiyek�y quarter of Şişli is the largest antiques market in the city, while the �ukurcuma neighbourhood of Beyoğlu has rows of antiques shops in its streets. The Grand Bazaar, edificed between 1455–1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror also has numerous antiques shops, along with shops selling jewels, carpets and other items of art and artisanship. Historic and rare books are found in the Sahaflar �arşısı near Beyazıt Square, and it is one of the oldest book markets in the world, and has continuously been active in the same location since the late Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods
Live shows and concerts are hosted at a number of locations including historical sites such as the Hagia Irene, Rumeli Fortress, Yedikule Castle, the courtyard of Topkapı Palace, and G�lhane Park; as well as the Atat�rk Cultural Center, Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall and other open air and modern theatre halls. A significant culture has been developed around what is known as a Turkish Bath. It was a culture of leisure during the Ottoman period, the finest example being the �emberlitaş Hamamı (1584) in Istanbul, located on the �emberlitaş (Column of Constantine) Square