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The Mega City at the Bosporus
Countless things can be told about Istanbul's uniqueness...
I myself feel I need to let my musings out...
Where the great legendary Bosporus separates, Istanbul unites Europe with Asia. At the crossroads of cultures.
The concrete jungle of Istanbul with a staggering metropolitan population of over 14.1 million people is larger than any European capital.
It is in fact almost as populous as the Netherlands, more populous than Greece or, about as much as Hungary and Croatia combined.
Istanbul has no rival in the area and it's unparalleled by many terms.
The Bosporus Strait
It was founded in 660 BC as Byzantium by Greek colonists (who called it Byzantion) and it used to be the eastern capital of Christianity (Orthodoxy, to be exact.), under the name Constantinople.
But the legendary eastern bastion of Christianity fell in 1453, conquered by the Ottoman Turks (following a siege that lasted almost 2 months). Constantinople then became an Islamic centre known as Istanbul.
In fact, the name Istanbul is derived from "Islambol", whose meaning translates to "City of Islam".
Since 1930, the term "Istanbul" is being used around the World as the single name of this city.
Lots of ships, ferries, busy ports...
Perhaps the most notable Christian history-related (but also Muslim) monument is the revered immense Hagia Sophia, while probably the most prominent Islamic Turkish attractions are the: Topkapi Museum and the the Blue Mosque.
Of course, Istanbul bears the remains of its Christian past, but today it's vast majority is Muslim.
In the year 2000 there were 2,691 mosques, 123 churches and 20 synagogues in use.
When I was there in 2011, I saw a thriving rapidly evolving metropolis. One surprisingly clean despite its immense size and despite its port (port cities tend to be rather dirty, but not Istanbul).
Istanbul is a major port on the Marmara Sea and a large international air travel hub (especially between Europe and Asia, the Middle East). Naturally, this city has a high significance in international trade.
Doomsday sky with angry clouds. Only a little thin rain fell...
I was amazed by the complexity, the diversity of this massive city. It could be a country, it's so vast.
At the time of my visit, Istanbul had no metro tunnel running under the Bosporus Strait, but since then, the connection has been built - making traveling easier.
I still had to use the ferry back then... anyway, for a traveler, it's far more exciting by boat across the Bosporus.
Speaking of the Bosporus Strait... it separates Asia from Europe and currently there are two bridges running across it.
The water flows between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, which is connected to the larger Mediterranean Sea.
It's amazing... these "monsters" are everywhere. Venice, Naples, Barcelona... Istanbul, of course.
Merely the geo-strategic position is a gift that no other city has. And this is being very well-exploited. It has been, for centuries.
There are plans for the construction of a new channel - west of Istanbul, which would bypass the city, facilitating navigation on the sea (making it also less dangerous, since the new strait wouldn't go through Istanbul).
The new channel would be built west of Istanbul and its length would be around 40 km.
The existing (natural) Bosporus Strait gets over-agglomerated at times and the crossing oil tankers especially pose an immense risk to a larger area around.
View towards Levant from the Topkapi Palace
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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As "Escape Hunter" - the curious incognito traveler with an insatiable drive to explore, I embark on slow and deep travels around
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