Ortakoy (Istanbul Bosphorus Towns)

Ortaköy is a neighbourhood, formerly a small town, located in the middle of the European bank of the Bosphorus. (The Turkish name means "Middle Village".) It is part of the Besiktas district of Istanbul.

In the past the town was a cosmopolitan area, with communities of Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Jews.

Today the neighbourhood still hosts many different religious (Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox, and other Christian) structures. It is also a popular spot for locals and tourists alike with its popular buildings that host art galleries, clubs, cafes, bars, and restaurants.

The Ortaköy Mosque is a beautifully ornate mosque, right on the jetty of Ortaköy, bordering on the water of the Bosphorus, and thus highly visible from passing boats.

Several reputable schools, such as Kabatas Erkek Lisesi and Galatasaray University, are located in Ortaköy.

The Bosphorus Bridge, one of the two bridges that connect the European and Asian banks of Istanbul, is situated in Ortaköy.

The neighbourhood was also the site of George W. Bush's speech during the NATO Summit of 2004 that was delivered at the Galatasaray University.

Located at the center of the old world, Istanbul is an important metropolis famous for its historic monuments and magnificent scenic beauty. It is the only city in the world that expands on two continents. Istanbul, situated where Europe and Asia are separated by a narrow strait, the Bosphorus, has an history of 2,500 years. Following the establishment of the city at this point of separation of the two continents where the land and the sea embrace each other, the area gained strategic importance and became a center for trade and commerce.

The historic city of Istanbul is located on a peninsula flanked on three sides, by the sea of Marmara, the entrance to the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It was the capital of three great empires: the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. During those 1,600 years, more than 120 emperors and sultans reigned in the city.

During its development, the city was enlarged four times and each time the city walls were built more towards the west. The city of Istanbul, surrounded by the 5th century Roman city walls, spreads over seven hills, and the mosques, built by the Ottoman sultans on these hills, adorn the city as with "crowns". The skyline of the city appears serene, majestic and beautiful from every direction.

The Golden Horn, which is an unusually secure naturel harbour, played a very important role in the development of the city throughout the history.

Everyday life goes on in all its vitality amid the shadows cast by the Turkish, Byzantine and East Roman monuments. Istanbul is the most crowded city in Turkey. Its population is almost 12 million.

The Galata district, located on the northern shore of the Golden Horn, was settled by Levantine merchants (a minority group) who controlled commerce in the city after the Byzantine era. Foreign embassies used to be located in this district. Toward the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, residential areas, European in appearance, occupied the Galata district. They still exist but the life style in these residential areas has since changed. Commerce in the city developed over the last onehundred years along the main artery that stretches beyond Beyoglu on the hills of Galata.

Due to its location and scenic beauty, the Bosphorus is a wonder of nature. Typical old Turkish homes, impressive palaces, mosques, fortresses and contemporary residences line the shores of the Bosphorus, and woods adorn the hills behind its shores. Cruises on the Bosphorus, where sail boats and row boats used to be navigated with difficulty due to the strong currents, offer unforgettable scenery. The attractive Bosphorus Bridge completed in 1973, connects the two continents and blends in harmoniously with nature. The second bridge accross the Bosphorus, The Fatih Bridge, was completed in 1988.

Almost one third of the population dwells in the Asian part of the city on the east shore of the Bosphorus. Hundreds of thousands of people who live on this side, use either the bridges the ferry boats to commute to European side, the business center of the city.

Situated at the entrance to the Bosphorus, Üsküdar is an old residential district on the Asian side of the city. Magnificent mosques, old wooden houses and the large Selimiye Barracks, known as the "Hospital of Florence Nightingale", are all located in this district. The area also commands the best view of the historic city. The largest cemetery in the Islamic world, the Karacaahmet Cemetery, is situated on the hills in Üsküdar.

Haydarpasa, the railway station for the trains serving Anatolia and Asia, is situated between Üsküdar and Kadiköy.

Summer residences in well-kept gardens are found on the Princes' Islands which are only an hour away from the city by ferry. Motor vehicles are not allowed on the islands. Horse-drawn carriges are the only means of transportation. Beautiful beaches surround every island.The Princes' Islands offer some of the best recreation spots during the summer months.

Restaurants serving fish, meat and other famous Turkish dishes are found everywhere in the city. The dishes prepared with fresh fish caught in the seas near the city are delectable. Famous Turkish desserts like the "Baklava" and other sweet pastries, particularly those produced in the small specialty shops are prepared in the traditional way. Turkish Coffee served in demi-tasse cups, is offered on every occasion


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