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10 Things you didn’t know about Istanbul

17th February 2014

Here’s a list of quirky facts you didn’t know about Istanbul.


1. Istanbul has been the capital of some of the biggest empires: Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman and is now Turkey’s largest city with over 13 million people – Which is more than the population of Belgium – and the second largest in the world by population within city limits.

2. The city of Istanbul was officially renamed ‘Istanbul’ in 1930 but many still called it ‘Constantinople’. To stop this, the Turkish post office refused to deliver any mail addressed to Constantinople.

3. During the Ottoman Empire, there were over 1400 public toilets around the city while in the rest of Europe there were none.

4. Istanbul has the third oldest subway in the world. It was built in 1875 after those built in London and New York in 1863 and 1868. 
Istanbul’s subway is 573 meters long and it is located in the Beyoglu district.

5. British author ‘Agatha Christie’ wrote her famous novel, Murder on the Orient Express at Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul. The Orient Express train ran between Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul) from 1883 to 1977.

6. The Blue Mosque is the only mosque in the city with six minarets. When the mosque was built, it had one minaret more than the Grand Mosque in Mecca (four was the common maximum at that time) and this was considered disrespectful in the Muslim world. In order to solve the issue, one more minaret had to be added to the Grand Mosque.

7. Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world for about 900 years until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. It was also one of the 20 finalists for the New 7 Wonders of the World.

8. The four bronze horses decorating the San Marco Cathedral in Venice were taken from Istanbul (Constantinople at that time) by the crusaders in the 13th century.

9. The Grand Bazaar is the oldest and largest historical bazaar in the world with over 3000 shops covering 61 streets.

10. Istanbul was the European Cultural capital in 2010 and just two years later it became the world’s fifth-most-popular tourist destination.

Do you know any fun facts about Istanbul? Feel free to share them below.

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