Having been the capital of two major empires,
Istanbul today is rich in architectural monuments.
earthquakes, fires and the rampage of the Crusaders
in 1204 have taken their toll and resulted in
heavy destruction, but one can see architectural
works across the city which reflect the past splendor.
The area between the Sea of Marmara and the Golden
Horn is sometimes referred to as the "Peninsula
of History" because of its many Roman, Byzantine
and Ottoman works. The Topkapi Palace, residence
of the Ottoman Sultans, Ayasofya, the jewel of
Byzantine architecture, the mosques of Süleymaniye
and Sultanahmet which dominate the skyline of
Istanbul... all are located here. The area opposite
the shore of the Golden Horn was formerly known
as "Pera", meaning "the other shore".
Settled by Genoese and Venetians in the 12th century,
it became a quarter inhabited mostly by Levantines
and represented the western face of Istanbul.
The Galata Tower built by the Genoese, the narrow
streets reminiscent of Italian cities, the stately
consulates, which were the embassies before the
capital moved to Ankara, and the "art nouveau"
buildings along Istiklal Caddesi all reflect the
very cosmopolitan character of ancient Ýstanbul.
Palaces, summer palaces, castles and large mansions
built by the Ottomans continue to adorn Istanbul.
The Yildiz Palace and Dolmabahçe, on the
shores of the Bosphorus, were once the residence
of the Ottoman Sultans after TopkapiPalace. The
shores of the Bosphorus are also famous for the
elegant wooden houses, the yali, built along the
edge of the water.
The New Istanbul
Istanbul is an ever-changing city that adapts
itself to new times. It has evolved over centuries
and now, at the dawn of the 21st century, it is
resolutely and eagerly turned towards a new future.
Building on its assets inherited from a glorious
past, it is rapidly becoming an international
city, a financial and economic center offering
services in banking, telecommunications, marketing,
engineering, advertising and tourism. International
conferences and festivals, fairs, fashion shows,
sports and art performances give a new dimension
to the life and potential of the city. The skyscrapers
rising in the northwest are the new skyline of
Istanbul. As small manufacturing enterprises move
out of the city, they are replaced by commercial
and service companies. The Istanbul Stock Exchange
is beginning to take its place among the world's
major bourses. The growth in business, tourism,
commerce and service industries has led to a rapid
increase in the number and quality of hotels in
Istanbul. Once renowned for its palaces, Istanbul
is now becoming a city of impressive hotels, offering
not only excellent accommodation but also a wonderful
view over the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara.
Two suspension bridges link the two sides of the
city and highways encircle all of Istanbul. Although
the bridges and highways have gone part way to
resolve the problems caused by ever increasing
automobile traffic, the problem of circulation
is far from satisfactory. The configuration of
the city, the narrow streets and the intensive
and poorly planned construction activity in recent
decades do not allow the opening of new arteries.
The subway project, which will offer a limited
remedy to the present situation, is being rapidly
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