About Istanbul – Istanbul has a pulse unlike any other city in the world. Albeit no longer the country's capital, Istanbul is recognised as the financial, cultural and economic heart of Turkey. Once known as Constantinople or Byzantium, you can’t help but appreciate the cities fascinating past.
Istanbul’s history spans many centuries. Until 1923 when the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed, Istanbul had been the capital city of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, each leaving their distinct mark.
Exploring the mosques, traditional restaurants, bazaars, shops and famous sites leaves you with a sense of wonder, so much so that many foreigners have decided that a visit is simply not enough, they choose to call Istanbul their home.
LOCATION OF ISTANBUL
Istanbul is the only city in the world to embrace two continents, Asia and Europe. It’s classed as an alpha world city, a city of significant economic importance, lying to the north west of Turkey and straddling the Bosphorus Strait. The smaller European side sits to the west separated by the Golden Horn, a natural harbour dividing the Marmara and Black Seas.
POPULATION OF ISTANBUL
Turkey is recognised as one of the world’s most populated countries with in excess of 76 million residents and this figure increasing by over 2% each year. As one of the world’s largest cities, bigger than that of London and New York, Istanbul has a population of over 15 million people with housing demand ever on the increase.
Istanbul is made up of 39 districts with many of the historic areas becoming UNESCO world heritage sites in 1985. The city has gained a lot of global attention recently and has grown rapidly as a result. It was designated Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2010 and is the European Capital of Sports in 2012. This attention has resulted in a constantly increasing community and many new suburbs springing up on the outskirts to help deal with housing demands.
PRIME LOCATIONS AND GROWING SUBURBAN TOWNS
Districts along the Bosporus of Istanbul on both European and Asian sides are where the city's most prestigious and prime locations are situated. These include Bebek, Sisli, Ortakoy, Ulus, Tesvikiye, Kanlica, Kandilli, Emirgan, Arnavutkoy. Property prices can easily compare with the likes of Paris, London and New York for luxury real estate. There are more affordable options available too of course, however, generally speaking Istanbul's prime locations are not for the bargain hunters.
As the city grows rapidly, suburban towns are being erected to accommodate the city's growing housing needs. Shanty houses on the outskirts of the city are being replaced by structured and comfortable high rises and comprehensive complexes offered to market at very affordable prices. Great majority of foreign investors, particularly individuals as opposed to institutional investors, are taking advantage of these low prices in an effort to capitalise on the city's growth prospects.
We would like to underline that not all of these suburbs hold the same investment potential. The factors that will affect their price growth in years to come include social and cultural aspects of Turkish life and as such a diligent understanding of these factors will come in handy in selecting the right areas for investment. Take European suburb Bahcesehir for example, this is a prime example of a well developed and quality suburban town. However, neighbouring Esenyurt leaves a lot to desire in comparison.
CLIMATE OF ISTANBUL
Unlike many of the warmer coastal regions of Turkey to the south, Istanbul is not seasonal and a city to be enjoyed anytime. Due to Istanbul’s size and typography, the weather is changeable and temperatures fluctuate depending on location. The temperature averages around 23*C (73*F) during the summer months but can reach up to 32*C (90*F) on occasion. The summer sees little rain, perhaps only a day or two a month, leaving it a great time to make the most of the many outdoor activities on offer. The winters are cold and wet, snowfall common, with an average temperature of 4*C (39*F). The city caters for cooler weather by offering a wealth of indoor attractions. Many of the bazaars, shops, restaurants and museums are covered so, like most major cities, there is something to keep you occupied anytime!
QUALITY OF LIFE
Istanbul is changing. Common thought is that those residing in the classic historic and more established central districts have the best quality of life, but this may be largely income based. Views, historic buildings, classic architecture and sought after areas come with a higher price tag! Quality of life is defined as “the general wellbeing of individuals”. With this in mind, new suburbs on the outskirts of the city are now starting to offer residents quality housing at lower prices. These up and coming areas have modern health centres, trendy shopping malls, sports facilities and entertainment, many are now turning here to set up home.
The quality of life in Istanbul is generally very good. Local markets offer an excellent array of groceries at reasonable prices, there is a vast selection of shops, from designer names and department stores, to budget shops suiting every need and the transport links to surrounding areas are excellent.
THINGS TO DO IN ISTANBUL:
The biggest city in Turkey and it wouldn't be so without a plethora of historic attractions and landmarks that attract tourists in their millions year on year. Our list of top Istanbul attractions includes:
1. A historic day at Hagia Sophia - uncover some of the best historical stories at Hagia Sophia, spend the whole day marvelling at the intrinsic design and details inside.
2. Watch over Istanbul at Maiden's Tower - full of love and romance, Maiden's Tower dates all the way back to 419 B.C. and has served Turkey well ever since.
3. Free entrance to the Suleymaniye Mosque - beginning in 1549, the Mosque has undergone several restoration projects over the years to become one of Istanbul's greatest landmarks.
4. The moveable Galata Bridge - enjoy the spectacular sunsets across Istanbul from the famous Galata Bridge measuring an unprecedented 490 metres in length.
5. The beautiful and historic Dolmabahce Palace - steeped in history and culture, spend a few hours walking around the palace learning about the rich history of one of Turkey's former Sultans.
6. Topkapi Palace - the centre of a kingdom - the oldest building of this style in known existence, this palace is a must see and is home to vast amount of history of Istanbul.
7. Shopping at the Grand Bazaar - any trip to Istanbul would not be worthwhile without a trip to one of the largest markets in the world. Here you will find anything from leather, to games, to carpets, jewellery, spices, the list is endless.
8. Underneath Istanbul with the Basilica Cistern - take a look underneath the city of Istanbul with a trip to the Basilica Cistern, marvel at the two heads of Medusa found inside.
9. The many faces of Galata Tower - used over history for many purposes and rebuilt several times, Galata Tower is Turkey's immovable tower offering a great view of Istanbul.
10. Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque - gain an insight into the ancient Mosque that is still used today, known as the Blue Mosque due to the enormous amount of blue tiles found inside.
11. The Museum of Modern Art – Istanbul - spend a day marvelling at the stunning art on display at the Istanbul Modern, whether you're an art lover or not, there is something here for everyone to appreciate.
For further reading on Istanbul, from Topkapi Palace to Hagia Sophia, emerging real estate districts and many more topical matters, please see our Istanbul blog.