Istanbul Travel Guide

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  • Istanbul Travel Guide

Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, becoming the country's economic, cultural, and historical heart. Founded on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660 BC as Byzantium, the city now become one of the most significant cities in history. For nearly sixteen centuries following its reestablishment as Constantinople or New Rome in 330 AD, it was the imperial capital for the Roman and Byzantine (330–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin (1204–1261), and the Ottoman (1453–1922) empires. Istanbul's strategic position along the historic Silk Road, rail networks to Europe and the Middle East, and the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have helped foster an eclectic populace, although less so since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

Traditional visual art forms in Istanbul were began at the Ottoman era, when European and Ottoman painters depicted the city's landscape in their work. By the end of the 19th century, Istanbul had been a regional artistic center, with Turkish, European, and Middle Eastern artists flocking to the city. Despite efforts to make Ankara Turkey's cultural heart, Istanbul's Fine Arts Academy remained the country's primary institution of art until the 1970s. Since then, Istanbul has reemerged as the country's artistic center. Art in Istanbul began to be seen as having an analytical role, rather than just being an elitist culture concerned only with aesthetics.

The city's biggest highlight remains its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its cultural and entertainment hub can be found across the city's natural harbor, the Golden Horn, in the Beyoğlu district. Considered a global city, Istanbul, one of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies in the world, hosts the headquarters of many Turkish companies and media outlets and accounts for more than a quarter of the country's gross domestic product.