Istanbul: Turkey's largest city and its beating heart

  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

Istanbul, the city nestled along the Bosphorus strait for more than 2,500 years, takes another small step on its journey through history this week as voters decide who will lead the metropolis for the next five years.

Local elections will be held across Turkey on Sunday but, as always, the focus will be on the battle to win Istanbul, the country's largest city and its beating heart.

Associated Press photographers set out in the run-up to polling day to capture the spirit of a city that through the ages has captured the imagination of the world, from the Prophet Muhammad to Napoleon Bonaparte.

For many, images of the continent-spanning home to 16 million people focus on two themes: its minaret-punctured skyline and the waterways bustling with oil tankers, ferries and fishing boats.

Mosques dominate the horizon everywhere in Istanbul, especially in the old city where the Suleymaniye Mosque is perhaps the defining pinnacle of 16th-century architect Sinan's work. Down the hill from his masterpiece lies the Hagia Sophia, or Aya Sofya in its Turkish incarnation, a former Byzantine cathedral that echoes Istanbul's Christian past.

Across the Bosphorus, the channel that splits Europe and Asia, more modern edifices gaze down — the Camlica Mosque, completed five years ago to house 63,000 worshippers, and a nearby 369-meter (1,211-foot) telecommunications tower.

The strait below, which links the Marmara and Black Seas, is synonymous with the city and a daily part of the lives of many residents.

Hundreds of ferry services shuttle back and forth along the Bosphorus competing for space with huge tankers and cargo ships as well as luxury yachts and wooden boats manned by lone fishermen.

The backstreets of Istanbul, however, are where most people live out their daily lives and many tourists fall in love with the city.

Be it the alleyways surrounding the Grand Bazaar or the cobblestones leading to Galata Tower, Istanbul's streets are punctuated by the smell of fresh bread and spices, the chatter of drinkers nursing glasses of the local spirit raki, and the attention of stray cats.

Comments 0