Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey,
constituting the country's economic, cultural and historical heart. With a
population of 14.1
million, the city forms the largest
urban agglomeration in Europe. Located
on both sides of the Bosphorus,
the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both physically and culturally.
With its long history at the
center of empires, Istanbul offers a wealth of historic and religious places to
take in. The bulk of these ancient monuments, dating back to Roman, Byzantine,
and Ottoman periods, including the Hagia
Mosque), and Basilica Cisternare located around Sultanahmet Square, while some others are dispersed throughout the peninsula
of the old city, such as Church
of St Savior in Chora (Kariye
Müzesi), entire inside of which is covered by mind-blowing frescos and
mosaics. An impressive section of mostly intact Theodosian walls, which mark the full
length of western boundary of the peninsula, is right next to this particular
church. North of the peninsula of old city, across the Golden Horn, is Galata,
crowned by the Galata Tower.Istanbul Modern, with its exhibitions
of contemporary Turkish art, is on the nearby waterfront of Karaköy. Another
sight of religious significance close by is the Galata Whirling Dervish Hall of SufiMevleviorder, just north of the Tower.
Further north is the Istiklal
Avenue, Istanbul's prominent pedestrian street running from near Galata Tower
to Taksim Square, the central square of whole city.