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Istanbul Turkey Old Istanbul


The historical city centre of Istanbul accumulates around the Golden Horn Bay. It used to be the principal haven for Ottoman navy and the major destination for sea trade. The oldest districts are Galata, Fanar and Eminonu. There are many precious examples of Greek, Byzantine, Ottoman and Italian architecture.

Galata district was inhabited by Genoese for several centuries. Residential quarters, resembling medieval Europe in style and layout, are well preserved until now. One of the landmarks is the imposing Galata Tower, built by the Genoese as a part of the fortification and a watchtower, giving the view and control over the city. It was destroyed during the Fourth Crusade and later rebuilt, acquiring the name of Tower of Christ.

Palazzo del Comune was the residence of the podesta, local ruler. Church of St. Paul was built during the latin control of the city and later converted into a mosque. The famous Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street) was the financial center of the Ottoman Empire, containing rows of Ottoman-era bank buildings, including the headquarters of the Ottoman Central Bank.

Eminonu, enclosed by the ancient system of walls, the Constantinople walls, treasures the best examples of the Ottoman architecture, such as Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye, the huge mosque complex of Suleyman the Magnificent. The examples of Byzantine Architecture, Hagia Sophia and Hagia Irini, are also located there.  In recent years its narrow winding streets were considerably improved and developed, the district itself gained importance as elite business and entertainment area.

Fanar is the historical Greek settlement, which retained its separate status under the Turkish rule. It was the historical centre of commerce and banking. It is full of historic wooden houses, churches and synagogues. Nowadays it is the seat of Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate. There are numerous pilgrimage places.

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