Istanbul - Cityscape

Cityscape

See also: List of urban centers in Istanbul
Historic Areas of Istanbul *
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Country Turkey
Type Cultural
Criteria I, II, III, IV
Reference 356
Region ** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1985
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
** Region as classified by UNESCO

The Fatih district corresponds to what was, until the Ottoman conquest, the whole of the city, across from which stood the Genoese citadel of Galata. Those Genoese fortifications were largely demolished in the 19th century, leaving only the Galata Tower, to make way for northward expansion of the city. Galata is now a part of the Beyoğlu district, which forms Istanbul's commercial and entertainment center around Taksim Square.

Dolmabahçe Palace, the seat of government during the late Ottoman period, is located in Beşiktaş, just north of Beyoğlu, across from BJK İnönü Stadium, home to Turkey's oldest sports club. The former village of Ortaköy is situated within Beşiktaş and provides its name to the Ortaköy Mosque, along the Bosphorus near the First Bosphorus Bridge. Lining the shores of the Bosphorus north of there are yalıs, luxurious chalet mansions originally built by 19th-century aristocrats and elites as summer homes. Farther inland, outside the city's inner ring road, are Levent and Maslak, Istanbul's primary economic centers.

During the Ottoman period, Üsküdar and Kadıköy were outside the scope of urban Istanbul, serving as tranquil outposts with seaside yalıs and gardens. However, during the second half of the 20th century, the Asian side experienced massive urban growth; the late development of this part of the city led to better infrastructure and tidier urban planning when compared with most other residential areas in the city. Much of the Asian side of the Bosphorus functions as a suburb of the economic and commercial centers in European Istanbul, accounting for a third of the city's population but only a quarter of its employment. As a result of Istanbul's exponential growth during the 20th century, a significant portion of the city is composed of gecekondular (literally "built overnight"), referring to illegally constructed squatter buildings. At present, some gecekondu areas are being gradually demolished and replaced by modern mass-housing compounds.

Istanbul does not have a primary urban park, unlike other large cities, but it does have a number of green areas. Gülhane Park and Yıldız Park were originally included within the grounds of two of Istanbul's palaces—Topkapı Palace and Yıldız Palace—but they were repurposed as public parks in the early decades of the Turkish Republic. Another park, Fethi Paşa Korusu, is situated on a hillside adjacent to the Bosphorus Bridge in Anatolia, opposite Yıldız Palace. Along the European side, and closer to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, is Emirgan Park; originally a private estate belonging to Ottoman leaders, the 47-hectare (120-acre) park is known for its diversity of plants and an annual tulip festival held since 2005. Popular during the summer among Istanbulites is Belgrad Forest, spreading across 5,500 hectares (14,000 acres) at the northern edge of the city. The forest originally supplied water to the city and remnants of reservoirs used during Byzantine and Ottoman times still survive.

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