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Historic Areas of Istanbul

Date of Inscription to the World Heritage List: 6.12.1985

List Reference: 356 Criteria: Cultural


Love of Continents: ISTANBUL

The historical areas of Istanbul, which has been the capital of three great empires, were inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

Istanbul, which has a history of more than 2,500 years, Is situated on a peninsula surrounded by the Marmara Sea, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn.

The historical areas of Istanbul, which is the only city situated on two continents are formed by four main areas: the Archaeological Park (Sultanahmet Square and its surrounding area), the Suleymaniye Mosque, Zeyrek Mosque (the Church of Christ Pantokrator) and its surrounding Conservation Area, and the City Walls of Istanbul.

Istanbul is a holy city, where mosques, churches and synagogues live side by side, and even declare their fraternity. Istanbul Is also renowned for its palaces, mansions and monumental buildings – each a unique example of architectural styles that were inherited from the Ottomans. Dolmabahce Palace, Tophane Mosque, Galata Tower (Christea Turris), built by the Genoese, Sultanahmet Mosque, Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia), one of the monumental buildings of Christianity, the unique mosaics of Ayasofya, Topkapi Palace, the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire, rising high above the Golden Horn Suleymaniye Mosque, the masterpiece of Imperial architect Mimar Sinan, the historical Kapali Carsi (the Grand Bazaar), Yerebatan Sarnici (the Basilica Cistern), the music dancing at the domes of Aya Irini (Hagia Eirene), make Istanbul the capital of history and culture.

Ayasoyfa was built on one of the most historical sites in Istanbul, and the present buildings were completed in 532-537 AD. Built as a cathedral, it served as the most important centre of Christianity approximately for 1000 years. Following the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans, It was converted Into a mosque. The building is used as a museum at present, and it is known that a huge sum of money was spent and ten thousand workers worked for the construction.

The most important property of the Sultanahmet Mosque right across Haiga Sofia is that it is the sole mosque constructed with 6 minarets. The mosque, which has more than 36 windows, is accessorized with more than 20,000 Iznlk tiles.

Topkapi Palace served as the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire, and today it houses the Kasikci (Spoonmaker’s) Diamond, which has a global fame. The Palace is, at present, a museum exhibiting unique artifacts from the glorious history of the Ottoman Empire.

Yerebatan Sarnici (the Basilica Cistern), which was built in between 527 and 567 in order to provide water to the settlement nearby, is situated within the Archaeological Park. According to Greek mythology, Medusa turned to stone anyone who dared to gaze directly at her. The head of Medusa carved at the column-base can be seen in the shallow waters of the cistern, and it Is one of the most visited attractions in the Park.

Hundreds of mansions and timber houses in Zeyrek and Suleymaniye, which form an important part of the historical areas of Istanbul, have managed to survive until today.

Istanbul has been a source of inspiration for numerous artists with its history and natural beauties. Countless poems have been written and songs have been composed for Istanbul. Istanbul, which has a fascinating beauty thanks to its historical and cultural richness, is waiting for those who would like to witness the great love of continents.

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