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Istanbul Information

Istanbul has undergone a number of name changes over the centuries. It was once known as Constantinople, which was the center of the Catholic Latin Empire until the Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1453 when the Turks changed the name to Istanbul. Prior to the Latin Empire, the city was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. These were hardly the only invasions. Istanbul has long been an important trading lane and point of political strategy throughout many wars. It is estimated that this city was founded in the 7th Century B.C. Over the years, it has become so expansive that it now rests partly in Asia and partly in Europe. It is the only city in the world to split between two continents, and it is also the 25th largest metropolis on the planet.

Given that this city has been controlled by several empires, the architecture is truly unique. In fact, many rulers simply chose to build on top of other buildings left behind once they took over the city; therefore, an entire underground city exists to explore. A number of buildings and monuments throughout the city have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, which consists of four primary areas in Istanbul. Such points of interest and their surrounding areas should be the initial stops on any visitor's itinerary. In addition to these sites, Istanbul is filled with contrasting landscapes built by each ruling empire. Art and culture has also played a critical role in the development of the city. A number of well-known artists spent their time in this artistic community and many songs have been written about it, as well.

As visitors explore the streets, they will find evidence of various religious pasts, as well as a number of political controls. All throughout the city people will see mosques, churches, and synagogues. Very few cities in the world have such apparent religious diversity. It is also not uncommon to stumble upon one of the many mesmerizing palaces and mansions from the more prosperous times in the city. At the same time, visitors will notice dilapidated buildings and ruins from times of financial struggles. At one point, the city was completely bankrupt. Today, the city is becoming more influential, once again due to its strategic political location, and the economy is improving as can be seen by the construction and rehabilitation of various prominent buildings around the city.

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