1. Istanbul is the only city in the world that stands in two different continents, Europe and Asia. Most people think of it as an Asian city but actually the historic center is on the European part of town. The Bosphorus River divides the two continents and joins the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara.
2. Although it was the capital of some of the most important empires in the world: Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman; Istanbul is not Turkey’s capital. Ankara is the country’s capital since it became the Republic of Turkey in 1923. It is however its largest city with close to 12 million people.
3. The Blue Mosque, one of the cities landmarks, is the only mosque in the city with 6 minarets in its façade. Some stories say that when Sultan Ahmed I built it, the Mosque had one minaret more than the Grand Mosque in Mecca and Muslims considered it disrespectful. So the Sultan had to issue an order to build a new minaret for the Grand Mosque to reestablish the peace.
4. The city was first known as Byzantium but changed to Constantinople when Roman Emperor Constantine the Great made capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The named finally changed to Istanbul in 1930 when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk proclaimed the Republic in 1930. To ensure the usage of the new name, Turkish authorities resend all mail and packages that were sent to its previous name.
5. When the city was part of the Ottoman Empire there were over 1,400 public toilets all around the city. At the same time, there weren’t any even at palaces in France and the rest of Europe.
6. During the middle Ages in the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul had over 1.400 public toilets in the city, while there weren’t any even at the palaces in France or any other European cities.
7. Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel “Murder on the Orient Express” at Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul. The Simplon-Orient Express – the “kings of trains and train of kings” – ran between Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul) from 1883 to 1977. She was one of the passengers of this famous train.
8. Istanbul has the third oldest subway in the world, built in 1875. London subway was built in 1863 and New York subway five years later, in 1868.
9. Istanbul has been capital of the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire, the Latin empire and the Ottoman Empire. Yet today, Ankara is the capital of Turkey.
10. Four bronze horses which are decorating the San Marco Cathedral in Venice today were taken from the city by the Crusaders in the 13th century.