Istanbul, Turkey

General Information

Regional secretariat


Administrative status

Chief city of the Province of Istanbul.

Historic Areas of Istanbul

Registration Year


Historical function

Trade, politics and religion.

Location and site

Situated on a promontory that dominates the European shore of the Bosphorus, Istanbul was in a position to control the passage to Asia. The city is divided by the Estuary of the Golden Horn and thus played a major defensive role. Between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, it was an important crossroads for both maritime and terrestrial routes.

Urban morphology

The heart of Istanbul is surrounded by water on three sides and by a rampart (erected in 413 and since modified) on the other. It is said to be built on seven hills, like Rome. The heart of the city provided a point of departure for the terrestrial routes that led out into the empire; an east-west artery branches out towards the city gates. Even today, this early structure can be read in Istanbul’s very dense urban fabric.

Care has been taken to protect Istanbul’s neighbourhoods (Süleymaniye quarter, Zeyrek quarter and the Archaeoligical Park outside the ramparts), which are rich with monuments. In the midst of the low urban hills are masterpieces that testify to each of the periods in the city’s history: the Eastern Roman Empire (hippodrome of Constantine, 324), the Byzantine Empire (the Church of Saint Sophia, 6th century), and the Ottoman Empire (the Mosque of Süleymaniye, 1550-1557).

Registration criteria

The historic areas of Istanbul include “unique monuments and masterpieces of universal architecture […].” (I) “[…] the monuments in the city’s center have exerted considerable influence on the development of architecture, monumental arts and the organization of space, both in Europe and Asia” (ramparts, Church f Saint Sophia, mosques and mosaics). (II) “Istanbul bears unique testimony to the Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations” (III) “The Palace of Topkapi and the Süleymaniye mosque with its annexes […] provide the best examples of palaces and religious complexes of the Ottoman period.” (IV)

Historical reference

  • During the Greek Antiquity, Byzantium enjoyed maritime power. It was the site of Constantinople (later Istanbul) that Constantine I declared to be the new nucleus of the Roman Empire in 324 A.D. The emperor possessed high expectations for the city which he named after himself.
  • As capital of the Byzantine Empire following the division of the Roman Empire in 395, Constantinople was also capital of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire. Under Emperor Justinian I, it reached the peak of its realisations in terms of architectural achievements.
  • Constantinople defended its trade routes and expanded its territory through a series of wars. Under the Macedonian Dynasty (867-1081), it reached the peak of its power. The city, which had reached extensive proportions, was filled with architectural masterpieces. At this time, it was considered the greatest urban achievement in the western world.
  • After a series of invasions and defeats, Constantinople was reconquered in 1261. Following its takeover by the Turks in 1453, it became the glorious capital of the flourishing Ottoman Empire (1451-1566).




Mr. Ekrem Imamoglu

Mayor of Istanbul
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Sehzadebasi Cad. No:25 Sarachane
Istanbul, Turkey

+90 212 455 21 85

Dr. Hayri Baracli

Secretary General
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Sehzadebasi Cd. No. 25 Sarachane
Istanbul, Turkey

+90 212 455 21 85

Dr. Halil Onur

Architect - Site Manager
Istanbul Site Management Directorate

Süleymaniye Mah., Kirazli Mescit Sk. No. 36, Süleymaniye Fatih
Istanbul, Turkey

+90 212 455 32 12

Mr. Fahri Murat Tuncay

Foreign Relations Department

Sehzadebasi Cd. No:25 Sarachane
Istanbul, Turkey

+90 212 455 21 85

Mr. Ihsan Ilze

Directorate of Cultural Heritage Preservation

Küçük Ayasofya Mahallesi Hisardibi Çikmazi No:1 Fatih No:6 Kirazhan Eminönü
Istanbul, Turkey