Istanbul is unprecedently the most exotic Mediterranean city that is known for its rich and enchanting history. From physical reminders of royal empires in the past to the sights of modern culture and architecture, Istanbul is full of undiscovered sagas and secret spots.
Dynamic and bustling, majestic and magical, this huge metropolis is the only city in the world that sits between two continents. The duality is primarily reflected in its contrast of traditional heritage and the combination of European and Asian influences. With its captivating Oriental identity intricately entangled with the ancestral beliefs, with its unparalleled cosmopolitanism to its glorious past, Istanbul is like no other city in the world.
In this article, we have enlisted a well-rounded group of facts that you probably didn’t know about Istanbul.
Seven Hills of Istanbul
Also known as Constantinople, it was earlier the capital of the Byzantium empire before the Ottomans conquered it. In an attempt to replicate and outmatch Rome, the powerful dynasty built Istanbul on seven hills. Home to famous structures and locations such as Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Yavuz Selim Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace, Istanbul never ceases to amaze.
The seven hills of Istanbul are:
- Sarayburnu Hill
- Çemberlitaş Hill
- Beyazit Hill
- Fatih Hill
- Yavuz Selim Hill
- Edirnekapı Hill
- Kocamustafapaşa Hill
The Princes’ Island and the exiled royalty
During the rule of Byzantine and Ottomans, exiled princes, as well as princesses, used to live on the Princes’ Islands. Located off the Asian coasts, it comprises a total of nine islands and the most famous being Buyukada. This popular region is where five Byzantine princesses were put into exile.
However, today, the Princes’ Islands are more of a picturesque retreat for travelers rather than a prison. Locals usually catch ferries to spend weekends on this serene car-less island. Cycling and walking down the streets offer delightful glimpses of old Ottoman houses and their unique, intrinsic, and original wooden architecture.
The Spoon Maker’s Diamond
According to legendary stories, it is believed that in 1669, a beggar stumbled upon a stone that was sitting on a heap of garbage. Without knowing much about its whereabouts, he sold that stone to a local spoon maker in return for just three wooden spoons. The spoon maker later sold it to a jeweler for merely ten coins.
The peculiar stone captured the attention of two other jewelers and sensing its innate beauty, they started arguments about it. The grand Sultan Mehmed VI was informed about the debate and ordered to see the stone himself. He understood that it was a no-ordinary piece and kept it under his possession. It is interesting to note that the stone is the world’s fourth-largest diamond and the 86 carat pear-shaped precious stone still has a place in the Topkapi Palace, its original home.
The Topkapi Palace and the sacred relics
The Topkapi palace served as the administrative headquarter and the main residence of the Ottoman sultans. Located in the east of the Fatih district in Istanbul, it has more colorful stories than most museums in the world. The palace not only shelters the spoon maker’s diamond but there are other precious items stored within the beautifully sculpted walls. Sitting in the third courtyard, the sacred relics, also known as the holy relics are securely placed in a small room. The Palace cum museum retains ancient collectibles such as Abraham’s pot, Muhammad’s sword with his footprints, and the Staff of Moses. Moreover, a separate room also holds hair from Muhammad’s beard along with an autographed letter.
Apart from this, other exhibitions include royal treasury, clothing, armory, and personal belongings from the Ottoman reign and royalty.
Istanbul’s 3113 Mosques
In Turkey, prayers are offered five times a day in the mosques. If you are in Istanbul, the ideal place to experience the majestic ritual calls is from the viewpoint of Galata Tower. The mesmerizing sound of prayers across the city is enthralling and it is unbelievable how the entire city reverberates with its rich cultural vibes.
According to Religious Affairs Directorate data, there are 82,693 mosques in Turkey and Istanbul alone has 3113 mosques in total including the famous historical Süleymaniye Mosque and Sultanahmet Mosque. Some of these 17th-century mosques are also UNESCO world heritage sites and attract millions of visitors every year.
There is a reason why the Grand Bazaar is the most popular tourist attraction across the globe. Constructed in 1455 as a center for local trade of jewels and clothing, It is the world’s largest and oldest covered shopping bazaar. Spanning an area of 30,700 square meters, it has 61 covered streets with over 4000 shops.
Throughout the centuries, the architectural structure of Grand Bazaar has withstood the tests of time and natural disasters, all because of its unique construction that was ahead of its time.
The oldest Turkish bath- Aga Hamam
Stemming from the enticing Roman baths, tens of thousands of locals and international tourists indulge in this relaxing pastime. If you want to relish the enigmatic culture of a bygone era, Aga Hamam is probably the right place for you. Built in 1454, shortly after the Ottoman dynasty took over the Byzantine reign, Aga Hamam, the first Turkish bath of Istanbul was constructed. It was once a private Hamam of Mehmed the Conqueror Sultan. It went under extensive renovation in the year 1844 and was finally opened to the public later in 1923.
Istanbul is adorned with beautiful landscapes, mosques, palaces, and concrete skyscrapers piercing the skyline. It is a melting pot of eastern and western cultures and is the economical and financial capital of Turkey.
Either you are planning to visit the city or buy real estate in Istanbul, the enchanting city never fails to fascinate. The place is stacked with luxurious residential and commercial properties and the government is facilitating seamless real estate developments for Turkish and foreign nationals. If you wish to enquire about property for sale in Istanbul, consult with our real estate experts here.