Historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and its cultural and economic hub. With a population of 13.1 million, nearly 20% of Turkey's population lives in Istanbul. The city is located on the Bosphorus Strait and includes the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It is the only city in the world that is actually situated on two continents – Europe and Asia.
During its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). Although Ankara was chosen as Turkey’s capital after the War of Independence, Istanbul remains the country’s cultural center.
Modern Istanbul is a mega-city that is the economic and cultural center of Turkey. It may be built on layers of history, but there is a sense of high energy and innovation in the city. As you walk through the busy streets, the sites, smells and noises of the collision of cultures immediately draws you in. This great city offers the ancient and the modern, with an unrivalled selection of restaurants, bars, galleries and clubs sitting alongside famous historical landmarks and beautiful art and architecture.