“The city is so amazing with its beautiful scenery and rich cultural diversity.” This statement, which is often heard by Istanbul's locals, is not necessarily met with much surprise. After all, this central hub of tourism and economy functions as an interesting bridge between Europe and Asia which is reflected in its mesmerising geographical makeup. The journey across the Bosphorus which separates the two continents is a once in a life time experience we would recommend to anyone.
What makes Istanbul different from other cities across the world is its unique geography. When referring to the concept ‘geography' a description of the landscape and weather is usually what comes up. However, this concept can show us much more than just that. The general geography of Istanbul is very interesting those who visit the city, but at the same time, it still draws the attention of its inhabitants. Whenever you talk to a local person about the weather he will smile, and say “you never know what comes next”. Of course this answer is not really grounded in any scientific research, there are advanced tools in place for weather forecasting, but nevertheless the unexpected changes in the Istanbul weather keep the cities inhabitants on its toes. The best advice to tourists is thus, to take some light layers with them in case of weather changes during the day. The actual cause of this unpredictable weather lies in its location; surrounded by small green hills and beautiful seas, the city can suffer from interesting climate changes.
The view of Istanbul city from air or satellite image makes it clear how it is like a connecting block between the two continents. The elongated fringe from the European side comprising of the areas of Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş, Sarıyer and Kağıthane districts stand as the boarder towns along the Bosphorus strait while the Asian side makes Beykoz, Üsküdar and Kadıköy districts the periphery towns respectively. Along with this, the beautiful coastal belt stretching from Büyükçekmece in the south western side covering all the coastal line till it joins the Haliç or Golden Horn at Eminönü and then takes a turn along the golden horn and joins the Bosphorus side at Karaköy. From here the belt stretches along Beşiktaş, Ortaköy, Sarıyer and finally joins the black Sea at Kumköy in the north. The Asian coastal belt starts on the north Eastern side of Bosphorus and covers the areas like Beykoz, Üsküdar and near Kadıköy it joins the Marmara sea coastal line spreading through Bostancı, Maltepe and Pendik where it ends into the nearest town of Gebze. Throughout the northern part of Istanbul along the black Sea is beautiful forests and beaches. All this coastal belt is covered with beautiful parks and sea view points that comprise of wonderful chain of restaurants.
The city of Istanbul is not like other cities that are established either along a river, a lake, sea port, trade route, defence point, etc. but takes the advantage of possessing all these features and many extra qualities for its formation. The historical aspect all revolves around its geographical features that made it an important place to be captured to control the whole region throughout the centuries. This gives the term “heartland “to this city and is still the central point for many aspects of world affairs. Geographers find this piece of land very interesting as it has the physical as well as human aspect of geography. Covering the physical aspects, it has the prominent location between Black Sea in the North and Marmara Sea in the South which gives it a mixed weather system during winter and summer. A prominent chain of hills all over Istanbul that all descend down towards the southern slope reaching the Marmara sea give the landscape the beautiful look. The viewpoint from fatih over the Bosphorus, Marmara Sea and Haliç gave the prime location for the construction of Topkapı palace and surrounding important buildings covered by the walled city.
The human aspect of geography deals with the multiple settlements comprised of various ethnic backgrounds in the city ranging from Greeks, Kurds, Armenians, Russians, Balkans, central Asian, Arabs and Europeans. The amalgamation and cross cultural ties gave the city its unique cultural diversity and multiple designs with wonderful architecture that is visible all over the city. With the passage of time many ups and downs came in the arena of powers but the lifestyle of Istanbul got more and more heterogeneous inside the homogeneous roof of one city. This made the urban life very unique in the world and can be still observed in the city life.
In a nutshell the location of Istanbul city covering the physical and human geographical aspects makes it one of the prime destination for tourists, artists, travellers, geographers, social scientists and many other fields of life. This makes the city a place to be loved and never gets diminished in the pages of history or advancing technology. All such factors make the city to be loved and whoever visits it once always says “We Love Istanbul”.
i am a student of geography doing my masters at Istanbul university . i belong to Pakistan and living in Istanbul from 2014. i love to work for nature conservation and like to have free spirited life style with more tendency towards self discovery.
Photo Credits: Francois Roche, B. Demirkaya