Guide to SKOPJE

10 Facts about Istanbul, a city flirting with two continents


Istanbul! The place that fulfills all desires of the world and opens the gates to priceless beauty, history, shopping and flirting with two continents.


The capital city of three Empires will win you over because it is much more than just a name in history books. This is only city that connects two continents, a city of contrasts and interesting traditional values. Many call it the “Capital of the World”, others say it is a “bridge between Europe and Asia”. Still, Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and one of the largest cities in the world with a population of over 13 million.

Taksim square_balkon3 Istikal caddesi_balkon3

This time, I decided to share some interesting facts about this splendid city on the Bosphorus, and to discover its beauty I recommend that you visit it, which is the right thing to do.

1. When Istanbul was part of the Ottoman Empire, the city had over 1,400 public toilets. In those days, even the royal palaces of the greatest European kingdoms did not have toilets. Around the end of 1600’s, In Istanbul (roughly the era of the “Sun King” in France), Ottomans included the first public toilets in the new mosque complexes. Versailles, as you know, was built without toilets!

2. One of the oldest underground funicular in the world was built in Istanbul. It dates back to 1875. It is a one-line funicular, a tunnel connecting 2 squares – it really has 2 stops! It is even called like this – “Tunnel”.  Only the London Tube (1863) and the New York City Subway (1868) are older than it.

3. Throughout history Istanbul was the capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire,  and the Ottoman Empire. Now, Ankara is the capital of modern Turkey.


4. The four bronze horses that decorate St Mark’s Basilica in Venice were stolen from Istanbul in the 13th century by the Crusaders. These horses were made in the 4th century BC in Greece and were in display at the Hippodrome in “downtown Constantinople”… this stadium was also torn down completely by the Crusaders (today it is the Sultan Ahmet square, the flat square between the Blue Mosque and Agia Sofia). Today, they are on display on St Mark’s basilica, above the entrance.

5. Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel “Murder on the Orient Express” in the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, after travelling on the famous train that connected Paris and Istanbul between 1883 and 1977. It is the last stop of this line at Sirkeci station (the main railway terminal on the European side of Istanbul).

murder on the orient express balkon3 Sirkeci train station 1_balkon3

6. The huge bazaar in Istanbul, Kapali Carsi,is the largest covered bazaar in the world with over 3,000 shops.

Kapali carsi 1_balkon3 ??????????

7. Istanbul spreads over an area almost as large as Belgium with roughly the same population.

8. Almost all citizens of Istanbul complain about one other, the traffic jams, the way things are done and so on, but nobody wishes to leave.

9.The soil and rocks of Istanbul are made of gold”. This slogan of the 1950s made a large proportion of the village population to move to this magical city.

10. Istanbul has one of the world’s biggest church turned into mosqueHagia Sophia, which is now a museum (since 1937, by Kemal Ataturk’s decree) that witnesses the intertwined influences between the two dominant religions in the world.

Hagia Sophia enterior

Hagia Sophia interior

There is a lot to be said about the city which has changed its name several times throughout history. Only one visit will not be enough to discover all its secrets. You will be thrilled, gazing speechless over the beautiful landmarks and yet, you will never learn everything about the pearl of the Bosphorus. There is always something left to see when you next visit it…

Kristina Angeleska