For many centuries Istanbul was the capital of the civilized world. Today Istanbul exists as the heartbeat of Turkey and is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. It's a glorious metropolis with about 12 million residents within the city proper, and it is the only city in the world that lies on two continents - both Europe and Asia.
Area: 5.712 km²
Traffic Code: 34
"It is there where God and human, nature and art come together. They have created such a perfect place which is a valuable sight." Lamartine's famous poetic line reveals his love for Istanbul, describing the embracing of two continents, with one arm reaching out to Asia and the other to Europe.
Istanbul, once known as the capital of capital cities, has many unique features. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and the only one to have been a capital during two consecutive empires - Byzantine and Ottoman. Once capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul still remains the commercial, historical and cultural center of Turkey, and its beauty lies in its ability to embrace its contradictions. Ancient and modern, religious and secular, Asia and Europe, mystical and earthly all co-exist here.
Istanbul's variety is one of its greatest attractions: The ancient mosques, churches, palaces, museums and bazaars reflect its diverse history. The thriving shopping area of Taksim buzzes with life and entertainment. And the serene beauty of the Bosphorus, Princess Islands and parks bring a touch of peace to the otherwise chaotic metropolis.
The summer months in Istanbul are generally hot and quite humid. The winters can be cold and wet, although not as extreme as other areas of the country.June, July and August see temperatures creep up to 30 degrees, with very little rain. Spring and autumn are popular times to visit because of the comfortable climate, good for lots of walking and sightseeing, with highs between 15 - 25 degrees C, in April, May, September and October.
By the winter, the dry cold air mass from the Black Sea and cold damp front from the Balkans brings a chilly season with daytime highs of between 10 - 15 degrees C, and nights much colder. Although rarely falling to freezing point, there is the occasional light snow in the city.