Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul) is the largest city in Turkey and 5th largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.8 million, also making it the second largest metropolitan area in Europe by population, and the largest metropolitan city proper. Istanbul is also a megacity, as well as the cultural, economic, and financial Centre of Turkey. The city covers 39 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. Istanbul is a designated alpha world city. ”In its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330-395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire(395-1204 and 1261-1453), the Latin Empire (1204-1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453-1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. Historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.”
Istanbul Modern frequently hosts the exhibitions of renowned Turkish and foreign artists. Pera Museum and Sakıp Sabancı Museum have hosted the exhibitions of world famous artists and are among the most important private museums in the city. The Rahmi M. Koç Museum on the Golden Horn is an industrial museum that exhibits historic industrial equipment such as cars and locomotives from the 1800s and early 1900s, as well as boats, submarines, aircraft, and other similar vintage machines from past epochs.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum, established in 1881, is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world. The museum contains more than 1,000,000 archaeological pieces from the Mediterranean basin, the Balkans, Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Istanbul Mosaic Museum contains the late Roman and early Byzantine floor mosaics and wall ornaments of the Great Palace of Constantinople. The nearby Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum displays a vast collection of items from various Islamic civilizations. Sadberk Hanım Museum contains a wide variety of artifacts, dating from the earliest Anatolian civilizations to the Ottomans.
Occasionally, in November, the Silahhane (Armory Hall) of Yıldız Palace hosts the Istanbul Antiques Fair, which brings together rare pieces of antiques from the Orient and Occident. The multi-storey Mecidiyeköy Antikacılar Çarşısı (Mecidiyeköy Antiques Bazaar) in the Mecidiyeköy quarter of Şişli is the largest antiques market in the city, while the Çukurcuma neighborhoods of Beyoğlu has rows of antiques shops in its streets. The Grand Bazaar, edified between 1455–1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror also has numerous antiques shops, along with shops selling jewels, carpets and other items of art and artisanship. Historic and rare books are found in the Sahaflar Çarşısı near Beyazıt Square, and it is one of the oldest book markets in the world, and has continuously been active in the same location since the late Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
Live shows and concerts are hosted at a number of locations including historical sites such as the Hagia Irene, Rumeli Fortress, Yedikule Castle, the courtyard of Topkapı Palace, and Gülhane Park; as well as the Atatürk Cultural Center, Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall and other open air and modern theatre halls. A significant culture has been developed around what is known as a Turkish bath. It was a culture of leisure during the Ottoman period, the finest example being the Çemberlitaş Hamamı (1584) in Istanbul, located on the Çemberlitaş (Column of Constantine) Square.