Istanbul is the the largest city in Turkey and the fifth-largest city in the world by population, is considered European, yet it occupies two different continents. One part of Istanbul lies in Europe and the other part lies in Asia. Istanbul’s European part is separated from its Asian part by the Bosphorus strait, a 31-km-long waterway. Being the only water route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, the Bosporus has been the site of significant settlement and cities for a long time. In particular, the Golden Horn, an estuary that joins Bosphorus Strait at the immediate point where the strait meets the Sea of Marmara, and forms a large, sheltered harbour. Two suspension bridges across the Bosporus – the Bosporus Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, also called Bosporus Bridge II, connect the two sides. The Asian side feels more relaxed, with wide boulevards, residential neighborhoods and fewer hotels and tourist attractions.
The European side is the city’s commercial center with banks, stores and corporations and two-third of its population. It was here, on the European side of the Bosphorus, the city of Byzantium was founded by the ancient Greeks around 660 BCE, the city which later became Istanbul.