Life in Istanbul


Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul) is the largest city in Turkey, constituting the country's economic, cultural, and historical heart. With a population of 14.1 million, the city forms the largest urban agglomeration in Europe, second largest in the Middle East and the fifth-largest city in the world by population within city limits. Istanbul's vast area of 5,343 square kilometers (2,063 sq. mi) is coterminous with Istanbul Province, of which the city is the administrative capital. Istanbul is a transcontinental city, straddling the Bosphorus—one of the world's busiest waterways—in northwestern Turkey, between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies in Europe, while a third of its population lives in Asia.

Founded on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660 BC as Byzantium, the city now known as Istanbul developed to become one of the most significant cities in history. For nearly sixteen centuries following its reestablishment as Constantinople in 330 AD, it served as the capital of four empires: the Roman Empire (330–395), the Byzantine Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times, before the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453 and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold and the seat of the last caliphate. Although the Republic of Turkey established its capital in Ankara, palaces and imperial mosques still line Istanbul's hills as visible reminders of the city's previous central role.

Istanbul's strategic position along the historic Silk Road, rail networks to Europe and the Middle East, and the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have helped foster an eclectic populace, although less so since the establishment of the Republic in 1923. Overlooked for the new capital during the interwar period, the city has since regained much of its prominence. The population of the city has increased tenfold since the 1950s, as migrants from across Anatolia have flocked to the metropolis and city limits have expanded to accommodate them. Arts festivals were established at the end of the 20th century, while infrastructure improvements have produced a complex transportation network.

Approximately 11.6 million foreign visitors arrived in Istanbul in 2012, two years after it was named a European Capital of Culture, making the city the world's fifth-most-popular tourist destination. The city's biggest draw remains its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s cultural and entertainment hub can be found across the city's natural harbor, the Golden Horn, in the Beyoğlu district. Considered a global city, Istanbul is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies in the world. It hosts the headquarters of many Turkish companies and media outlets and accounts for more than a quarter of the country's gross domestic product.

For international students, Istanbul has a lot to offer including high quality education, a multicultural population, lively cities and beautiful landscapes along with artistic, cultural and sports events. Living and studying in Turkey will definitely inspire you and change your perspectives permanently.

 

Key Points:

• Multicultural and multi-religious population of 14.8 Million

• Capital of three successive empires

• Welcoming and comfortable environment for international students

• Cradle of civilizations

• Multicultural landscape

• Crossroad of two continents and the center of the ancient world

• Unique historical sites

• Highest number of universities and libraries in the region

• Easily reached by students from all over the world

• Broad choice of universities and majors

• Globalized education

• Campus facilities

• Security and health

• Vibrant social life

 

LIVING COSTS IN ISTANBUL

General Costs per month

FSMVU currently does not offer dormitories for student use. Students must arrange their own housing. FSMVU Health, Culture and Sports Department (SKS) can provide some assistance for students in the matter.

Dormitories: 650 TL – 1,500 TL

Housing: 650 TL – 1,000 TL (monthly rent excluding deposit)

Food: 300 TL – 500 TL

Transportation: 200 TL (85 TL for monthly student pass MAVİ KART)

 

Food – Drinks

Bread: 1.25 TL to 2.50 TL

Water (per lt): 1 TL

Fruit/Vegetables (per kg): 1 TL to 10 TL

Chicken/Meat/Fish (per kg): 7 TL to 20 TL

Pasta/Rice (per kg): 1 TL to 4 TL

Sugar/Salt (per kg): 2 TL

Tea/Coffee (a cup): 1 TL to 5 TL

 

Transportation

Public Transport (excluding Taxis, Dolmuş, Minibüs and IDO Sirkeci - Harem Car Ferry, Bostancı-Kabataş, Bostancı-Bakırköy, Kabataş-Islands and Bostancı-Islands ferries)

NOTE: If you board a second (or third etc.) transport within 2 hours of your first ride you will be charged transfer fares instead of the regular fares.

The fairs below are for Marmaray, Metro, IETT, Otobus A.Ş. and Private Public Bus (Blue Buses), Tunnel, Nostalgic Tram and City Lines Public Transportation.

 

Istanbul Kart

Full Fare (TL)

Student Fare (TL)

First ride

 2,60

 1,25

1st Transfer

 1.85

 0.55

2nd Transfer

 1.40

 0.50

3rd Transfer

 0.90

 0.45

4th Transfer

 0.90

 0.45

5th Tranfer

 0.90

 0.45

 

Metrobus Fees

Metrobus fares are charged depending on how far you ride on the line (number of stops). You are charged 3.85 TL first and then receive a refund. After you exit the bus make sure you have your travel card read on one of the small readers positioned right after the exit turnstiles so that you get your refund.

Number of Stops

Full Fare (TL)

Student Fare (TL)

1 - 3

1.95

1.10

4 - 9

3.00

1.20

10 - 15

3.25

1.25

16 - 21 

3.40

1.25

22 - 27

3.50

1.25

28 - 33

3.60

1.25

34 - 39

3.85

1.25

40 or more

3.85

1.25

 

Dolmuş and Minibüs

Dolmuş: 2.20 TL – 7.40 TL (depending on distance)

Minibüs: 1.85 TL – 2.75 TL

 

Miscellaneous

Cinema ticket: 10-25TL

Concert ticket: from 25TL

Haircut: 8-45TL

 

SIGHTSEEING IN ISTANBUL

 

Rumelian Fortress (Rumeli Hisarı): It is a fortress located in Sarıyer on the European side. It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II between 1451 and 1452, before he conquered Constantinople. The three great towers were named after three of Mehmed II's viziers, Sadrazam Çandarlı Halil Pasha, who built the big tower next to the gate, Zağanos Pasha, who built the south tower, and Sarıca Pasha, who built the north tower.

 

Anatolian Fortress (Anadolu Hisarı): The fortress is situated on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, the sole outlet of the Black Sea, and it was built by Sultan Bayezid in 1390-91. Next to it there is a stream running into the sea. Together with the Rumelian Fortress on the opposite side, it ensured full control over the traffic in the Bosphorus. This small fortress creates a picturesque scene with the old wooden houses leaning on its walls and its green surroundings. The Kanlıca district, a little further up the Bosphorus, is famous for its seaside cafes and yogurt. The Asian towers of the Fatih Bridge rises in this district.

 

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya): is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.

 

Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi):  Istanbul is a city that cries out to be viewed from on high, and you can get a bird's-eye view of everything from the balcony at the top of the Galata Tower in Beyoğlu, the modern part of old Istanbul that, in pre-Republican days, was home to the city's foreign residents. Built in 1348, the tower once formed part of a sub-city belonging to the Genoese that stretched right down to the Bosphorus. In a footnote to aviation history, it was from this tower that Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi flew across the Bosphorus from Europe to Asia in 1638, thus inaugurating the first ever intercontinental flight.

 

The Bosphorus (Boğaziçi): is a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. The Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles strait to the southwest together form the Turkish Straits. The world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, the Bosporus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea). It is one of the defining characteristics of Istanbul making it one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

 

The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı): Built in 532 by Emperor Justinianus, it is called the Basilica Cistern because it is located under the Stoa Basilica. The cistern is a gigantic rectangular structure that measures 140 m in length and 70 m in width. Going down the 52-step stone ladder you will see 336 columns inside the cistern each of which is 9 m high. These columns, erected at intervals of 4.80 m each, form 28 rows each with 12 columns. These rising columns resemble a vast forest which enchants the visitor as soon as they enter the cistern. With a total area of 9.800 m2, this cistern has a water storage capacity of approximately 100.000 tons.

 

Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı): If there is one absolute must-see in Istanbul, it has to be the Topkapı Palace, home to generations of sultans and their wives, who were closeted in the famous harem. A collection of lush green courtyards and delicate kiosks, the Topkapı boasts a treasury to put the crown jewels in the shade, as well as views to die for over the Sea of Marmara, Bosphorus and Golden Horn. The secretive harem – really just the family quarters – is a warren of lushly-tiled rooms wrapped round a gem of a Turkish bath. Try to visit on a day when no cruise ship is in town to avoid the worst of the crowds.

 

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii): Facing Aya Sofya across a small park and mirroring its domed silhouette, the early 17th-century Blue Mosque is one of only a handful of mosques in the world to boast six minarets. Is it really blue? Well, not noticeably, although all the walls are papered with fine İznik tiles. To view it as the architect, Sedefkar Mehmed Aga, originally intended, enter via what looks like the side entrance from the Hippodrome. Afterwards, pop your head into a building the size of a small mosque on the corner of the complex. This houses the tomb of Sultan Ahmed I, the man who gave his name to both the mosque and the neighborhood.

 

Istanbul Archaeology Museum (İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi): Walk to Istanbul's three-in-one equivalent of the British Museum via the grounds of Topkapı Palace or through Gülhane Park. If time is tight, go straight to the large porticoed building housing the glorious sarcophagus of Alexander which depicts scenes from the life of Alexander the Great in vivid 3D. Kids will love the model Trojan Horse in the children's section. Then pop into the lovely Tiled Pavilion, one of the city's oldest Ottoman structures, beautifully restored to show off its finest ceramics. Finally, catch a glimpse of a peace treaty from 1269 BC preserved in the part of the museum nearest to the gate.

 

Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii): Unmissable as you stand on the busy Galata bridge and look up at the city's historic skyline is the mosque designed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan for Suleiman the Magnificent. Newly restored to its original splendor, it is generally regarded as the finest of the 42 surviving mosques he designed for Istanbul. Unusually, it retains much of the original complex of social service buildings that came attached to it, including several madrasahs, a hospital, a library and a Turkish bath.

 

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi): Housed in what was originally the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, a favorite grand vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent, and overlooking the Hippodrome where Byzantine lovers of chariot racing once brought the same passion to their sport as modern Turks do to football, this museum houses a magnificent collection of gigantic carpets from all over the country. Its basement features reconstructions of everything from a fully-fitted nomad tent to a grand interior from a 19th-century Bursa mansion. Don't leave without trying a thick black Turkish coffee in the pretty cafe in the grounds.

 

Dolmabahçe Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayı): located in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey, on the European coastline of the Bosphorus strait, served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1922. The palace commands a nice view right on the Bosphorus and its gardens are very pretty, especially in spring and summer. The founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk passed away in this palace on November 10, 1938 at 9.05 AM.

 

Taksim Square (Taksim Meydanı): Located in Beyoğlu district of Istanbul and is one of the most famous points and one of the biggest tourist attraction centers of Istanbul with its restaurants, stores, hotels, entertainment and cultural places. Taksim Square, which became a square during the Republican era, has also hosted many political and social events.

 

The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı): It is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops that are always filled with crowds who not only come to shop but to window-shop carpets, jewelry, leathers, handcrafts, home decoration items and many more.

 

Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı): It is one of the largest bazaars in the city. Located in the Eminönü quarter of the Fatih district. This bustling marketplace was constructed in the 1660s as part of the New Mosque complex, with rents from the shops going to support the upkeep of the mosque and its charitable activities. It was called the Egyptian Market because it was famous for selling goods shipped in from Cairo.