Istanbul’s Çengelhan Museum and Rahmi Koç Museum have received “Travellers Choice 2013” awards from travel site TripAdvisor. The poll that was prepared was compiled from the impressions and comments of travelers’ themselves.

Among 90 must see places, the Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum listed 3rd, while the Rahmi Koç Museum ranked in the 9th spot among the “582 places to visit” list. The Rahmi Koç Museum is dedicated to the history of transport, industry and communications. A sister museum, but smaller in size, the Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Museum opened its doors to the residents of Ankara in 2005.

The Rahmi M. Koç Museum is the first major museum in Turkey dedicated to the history of Transport, Industry and Communications. Housed in magnificent buildings – themselves prime examples of industrial archaeology – on the shore of the historic Golden Horn, the collection contains thousands of items from gramophone needles to full size ships and aircraft. The Museum aims to use its collections and resources to inform, inspire apublic.

May 29 will mark the 560th anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II.

Mehmet II was one of the greatest rulers recorded in history. He was a great leader, statesman, and commander. He was able to accomplish what his predecessors could not. Since the beginning of 14th century, Ottomans had tried several times to conquer Constantinople. However, none of these attempts were successful. Murat II executed the last of these attempts. His son, Mehmet II, claimed the throne on February 18, 1451 and immediately began preparations to capture the city.

Constantinople had strategic importance for both the Ottoman Turks as well as Byzantium. The city served as the last standing trace of western and Christian civilization in the region. The Byzantine included today’s Istanbul as well as a few villages located around the Marmara coast. The Empire was surrounded by the growing state of the Ottomans, who were positioned on all sides of the kingdom, cutting off its contact with Europe.

The Byzantine Empire acted as a barrier by controlling the Bosporus between the west and east sections of the Ottoman Empire, making communication as well as protection more difficult for the Turks. The western part of the empire was constantly under attack by the Europeans. Uprisings and revolts, caused by the Byzantine, were also common around the region. The division weakened the protection of the empire.

Soon after his ascension of the throne, Mehmet II started planning his master strategy which would eventually result in victory for the Turks. Mehmet II ordered the building of fortresses on the European side of the Bosporus in order to control the ships arriving from Europe. These three fortresses were built in 4 months.

After their completion, Mehmet II held a Divan (Council/Parliament) in Adrianople with all the state officials and counsellors including Zaganos and Sehabeddin Pasha. The majority of the officials including Zahanos and Sehabeddin Pasha decided in favour of the war and preparations started soon after. Statesmen from all over the empire were brought to Adrianople for the planning of the war. New and improved cannons were needed to tear down the strong walls of Constantinople. The new cannons, Şâhi, were very large and weighed around 18 tons.

After the preparations, Mehmet II left Adrianople with an army of about 80,000 men on Friday, March 23, 1453. He was accompanied by great scholars such as Aksemseddin, Akbiyik and Molla Gurani. When he reached the walls of the city, he sent Mahmut Pasha as a delegate to Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI of Palegos. The Emperor was offered his life and his treasures in return for the abandonment of the city to the Ottoman Turks. However Constantine XI refused the offer thinking that European help would surely arrive. Seeing that an agreement could not be reached with the Byzantine Emperor, Mahmet II ordered the start of the war on April 6. The war ended on May 29, 1453 with an Ottoman victory.

Directly after the fall of the city, Mehmet II led the first prayer in the Hagias Sophia and ordered the re-modulation of the church as a mosque. He quieted down the crying public with a hand gesture and said to the Pastor of the Hagias Sophia:

“Rise! I am Sultan Mehmet, to you and your friends and to all who have gathered here, I declare that, from today onwards do not be sacred for your life and liberty.”

The first Friday prayer was performed in the Hagia Sophia on June 1, 1453. He showed great tolerance to the Orthodox as well as the Jewish community. He appointed a new Pope for the Armenian Church; he also allowed the same liberty for the Jewish community. He allowed great freedom within the public.

Constantinople carried even greater importance for Sultan Mehmet II. The conquest meant the end of the great Byzantine Empire and the beginning of a powerful Muslim state. The conquest brought the advancement of trade to the empire. With the siege of the Bosporus, the cotton and the spice trades were now controlled by the Turks.

Mehmet the Conqueror had other intentions regarding the occupation of the city. He saw Istanbul as a door to the West. He was astonished by the idea of one universal empire and felt that Istanbul was not only the beginning, but also the center, of his growing empire. He was influenced by the Roman Empire and wanted to replace that ideology with an Islamic Empire that would became the center of the world. The conquest was merely the beginning of his ambitions. His plans were to lead a conquest of Italy, Vienna and possibly Rome to capture the heart of the Roman Catholic Empire.

The conquest shaped the Ottoman Empire and marked the beginning of its rise. The Ottoman Empire became the center of knowledge and education for Islamic studies. The control of the Bosporus provided the Empire with an economic advantage and developed the unity of the western and eastern sections. Istanbul became the capital of the Empire and the advancement towards Europe started.

“The Renaissance would not have been possible without the Ottoman Turks, whose conquest of Constantinople drove scholars of classical Greek to flee westward with their libraries, bringing Plato and Aristotle’s complete works to the Latin West, The Turks, moreover, far more than the Americans, preoccupied Luther and Charles V” (Robin W.Winks and Lee Palmer Wendell, Europe in a Wider World).

The conquest also marked the beginning of European colonization. With Turks gaining control of the spice and cotton trades, Europeans started looking for other paths to Asia and other parts of the world. Europeans did not like the idea of economical dependence on the Ottoman Empire. Europeans for the first time witnessed that large canons were able to tear down strong walls. The new cannons helped to form a centralized government with the end of small feudal states. Europeans also acknowledge the conquest as the end of the medieval period and the beginning of the Renaissance.

Europeans saw the conquest as the “fall” of the great Christian kingdom. They expressed this event as being one the biggest tragedies in history.

Istanbul will host annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Economics, the main topics-to-be-discussed will be diversification and modernization of economics of EBRD-member countries, development of non-oil and gas sectors, improvement of business and investment climate, technological and innovative progress and strengthening of financial markets.

Besides EBRD, representatives of other international financial institutions, large corporate financial organizations will also attend the annual meeting.

Istanbul signed up seven leading Turkish companies on Monday to sponsor the city’s bid for the 2020 Olympics, a $20 million deal that organizers said underlines the country’s economic muscle at a time of global financial uncertainty.

The Istanbul committee described the “landmark deal” as the biggest private sector investment in any Turkish sports bid, declaring that it shows Turkey’s potential as a lucrative new market and source of major sponsorship revenue for the Olympic movement.

“It reflects the remarkable economic growth that Turkey has experienced in the last five years,” Istanbul bid leader Hasan Arat said in a telephone interview. “The Olympic movement should take great confidence that Turkey will be able to deliver a significant amount of high quality … sponsors should we win the right to host the games.”

Istanbul, bidding for a fifth time after four previous failed attempts, is touting its economic strength as a key element of its latest Olympic campaign, seeking to set itself apart from rivals Madrid and Tokyo.

Spain has been going through a deep financial crisis, while Japan is trying to stimulate a stagnant economy. Istanbul claims Turkey will have the fastest growing economy in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development between 2011 and 2017.

In its bid documents, Istanbul projects generating $675 million in revenues from domestic sponsorships if it hosts the 2020 Games. Istanbul’s projected infrastructure budget for the Olympics is $19.2 billion — much higher than Tokyo ($4.9 billion) and Madrid ($1.9 billion).

“Our economy is giving us a lot of strength,” Arat said. “If you don’t have a strong economy, you cannot handle this operation, it’s impossible.”

With the three cities submitting their bid files to the International Olympic Committee earlier this month, the global promotion campaign is now in full swing. The IOC will select the host city on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires.

The seven companies backing the Istanbul bid are Turkish Airlines, mobile phone company Turkcel, digital satellite provider Digiturk, Dogus Group, Koc Holding, Sabanci Holding and Ulker.

“These companies are the engine of the Turkish economy,” Arat said. “It is an excellent example of public-private partnership.”

The overall budget for Istanbul’s bid campaign is $55 million, and more private companies are expected to come forward, Arat said.

Istanbul is seeking to bring the Olympics to a new part of the world in a city that straddles Europe and Asia.

“This is the fifth bid,” Arat said. “We learned a lot, we listened a lot. This is totally different, a new bid from a new Turkey.”

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Istanbul is at its best in late May and early September, when temperatures are mild and sunshine is plenti-
ful. High season, from June toAugust, is the most expen sive, crowded and hottest time to visit, but the summer arts and music festivals are highlights in the city’s cultural calendar. LateNovember until March or April can be damp and dreary.

However, Istanbul is still mild in autumn and winter and, with fewer tour parties around, you can enjoy
the sights in peace. As well as arts and sporting events, several public holidays and religious festivals punctuate the year. It is wise to be aware of these when planning an itinerary as some sights may be closed or else crammed with locals enjoying a day out. Some of these celebrations are also fascinating spectacles in their own right.

As the winter smog fades and sunshine increases, cafés and restaurants prepare for the first wave of alfresco dining. After a winter’s diet of apples and oranges, a welcome crop of spring fruits, including fresh figs, strawberries and tart green plums, arrives in the shops. Toasted sweetcorn is sold from carts, and a spring catch of sea bream, sea bass and turbot is on the menu. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and pansies fill parks and gardens, and the distinctive pink buds of the Judas tree are seen along the Bosphorus.
Monuments and museums are generally uncrowded in spring, and discounts are available at many hotels. In May the popular son et lumière shows outside the Blue Mosque begin and continue until September.

Easter (March or April).
Pilgrimage to the Monastery of St George on Büyükada in the Princes’ Islands. International Istanbul Film
Festival (late March–mid-April), selected cinemas. Screening of Turkish and foreign films and related events.

Tulip Festival (April), Emirgan Park. Displays of springtime blooms.

National Sovereignty Day (23April). Public holiday marking the inauguration of theTurkishRepublic in 1923. Children take to the streets in folk costume.

Commemoration of the Anzac Landings(25 April),
Gallipoli. Britons, Australians and New Zealanders gather at the location of theAnzac landings at Gallipoli during World War I.
Spring Day and Workers’ Day(1 May).

Unofficial public holiday when workers usually attend union-organized rallies.

Kakava Festival (early May), Edirne. Acelebration of gypsy A music and dance.

Youth and Sports Day(19 May). Public holiday in commemoration of the start of the War of Independence in 1919, with sporting events and other activities held throughout the city in stadiums and on the streets.

International Istanbul Theatre Festival (May–June), various venues. European and Turkish productions.

Conquest of Istanbul (29 May), between Tophane and Karaköy and on the shores of the upper Bosphorus. Mehmet theConqueror’s taking of the city in 1453 is reenacted in street parades and mock battles.

In contrast to an all-too-brief spring, the warm weather and clear skies of summer can linger on in Istanbul until November. In July and August temperatures soar and although luxury hotels have air conditioning, cheaper ones do not.
Popular sights are packed with tourists throughout the high season. Picturesque locations outside Istanbul may, on the other hand, be overrun by locals. At weekends city dwellers trek out to the Belgrade Forest and Black Sea beaches or to health clubs along the Bosphorus. Those who can afford it flee to their coastal summer homes until autumn.
For those who stay behind there is a strong summer culture. This includes a wild nightlife in hundreds of bars and night spots, and enthusiastic support for many arts festivals, which attract world-famous performers.
Look out, too, for events taking place in historical buildings. You may be able to listen to classical music in Haghia Eireneor enjoy a pop concert in the Fortress of Europe on the Bosphorus. This is also the best
time of year for outdoor sports such as hiking, horse-riding, water sports, golf and parachuting.
In summer, the menu focuses more on meat than fish, but vegetables and fresh fruit – such as honeydew melons, cherries, mulberries, peaches and apricots – are widely available. In July and August many shops
have summer sales.

Silk Market(June–July), Bursa. Special market for the sale of silk cocoons.

International Istanbul Music and Dance Festival (mid-June–July). Classical music, opera and dance
performed in historic locations. Mozart’sAbduction from the Seraglioisstaged annually in Topkapı Palace.

Bursa Festival (June–July), Bursa Park. Music, folk dancing, plays, opera and shadow puppetry.

Navy Day(1 July). Parades of old and new boats along theBosphorus.

International Istanbul Jazz Festival (July), various venues. International event with a devoted following.

International Sailing Races (July). Regatta held at the Marmara Islands.

Grease Wrestling(July), Kırkpınar, Edirne. Wrestlers smeared in olive oil grapple with each other.

Hunting Festival (3 days, late July), Edirne. Music, art and fishing displays.

Folklore and Music Festival (late July), Bursa. Ethnic dances and crafts displays.
Festival of Troy(August), çanakkale. Re-enactment of the tale of Troy

Victory Day(30 August). Public holiday commemorating victory over Greece in 1922.

Residents of Istanbul often consider their city to be at its best in autumn. As the summer heat loses its grip, chestnut sellers appear on the streets, pumpkins are sold in the markets, and fresh figs are eaten in abundance. In the surrounding countryside, cotton, wheat and sunflowers are harvested. Migratory grouper and bonito are among the tastiest types of fish which are caught at this time of year.
A popular beauty spot for its array of autumn colours is Lake Abant, 200 km (125 miles) east of Istanbul. Meanwhile, bird-watchers converge on the hills overlooking the Bosphorus to view great flocks of migratory birds head- ing for their warm wintering grounds in Africa.
On the cultural agenda is a world-class arts biennial and an antiques fair which blends Several public holidays reaffirm Turkey’s commitment to secularism, including Republic Day in late October, during
which flags are hung from balconies. The bridges over the Bosphorus  are hung with particularly huge

Tüyap Arts Fair(September), opposite the Pera Palas Hotel. A showcase of Istanbul’s artistic talent.

Yapı Kredi Festival (September), various venues. A celebration of music and dance promoting young performers.

Republic Day (29 October)  Public holiday commemorat ing Atatürk’s proclamation of the Republic in 1923. The Turkish flag adorns buildings in the city.

Akbank JazzFestival (October), various venues. Jazz music.

InternationalIstanbul FineArts Biennial 2007 (October–November every two years). International and
local avant-garde artists exhibit work in historic locations such as Haghia Eirene and the Imperial Mint , and the Basilica Cistern.

Anniversary of Death(10 November). A minute’s silence is observed at 9:05am, the precise time of Atatürk’s death in Dolmabahçe Palace in 1938.

Tüyap Book Fair(October), Belikduzu Fair and Congress Centre. Istanbul’s premier publishing event showcases prominent writers.

Efes Pilsen BluesFestival (early November), selected venues. Foreign and local blues bands play in popular
music venues throughout the city.

Interior DesignFair (first weekof November), çırağan Palace Hotel Kempinski. Interior designers and
antique dealers display upmarket wares in this popular annual show.

Elit’s Küsav Antiques Fair (mid-November), Military Museum. Sale of local and foreign paintings, furniture, carpets, maps, books, porcelain, textiles, silver, clocks and bronze statuary.

There are distinct bonuses to visiting Istanbul in the winter, when even major sights are uncrowded, although the rain, fog and pollution may be off- putting. Shops in the Akmerkez, Galleria, Capitol and Carousel malls hold sales, making the city a shopper’s paradise for leather, woollens and fashion.
Outside Istanbul, when enough snow has fallen on the mountains, the ski season begins in Uludağ,
one of Turkey’s most important winter sports resorts. Meanwhile, tea with baklava and cream cakes is consumed in the cosy cafés along the Bosphorus and in the old quarter of Beyoğlu.
MevlânaFestival (17–24 December), Mevlevi Monastery. Enthusiastic Istanbul devotees perform
special dances in honour of the founder of the famous Whirling Dervishes.

Christmas (late December). Though Christmas Day is not a public holiday, major hotels organize seasonal festivities.
NewYear’s Day (1 January). Public holiday incorporating European Christmas traditions including eating turkey, decorating trees and partying. Strings of lights adorn the main roads.
Karadam SkiFestival (secondhalf of February), Uludağ Mountain. Competitions organized by local radio
stations and the UludağSki Instructors’ Association.

The dates of Muslim holidays vary according to the phases of the moon and therefore change from year to year. In the holy month of Ramazan, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking between dawn and dusk. Some restaurants are closed during the day, and tourists should be discreet when eating in public. Straight after this is the three-day Şeker Bayramı (Sugar Festival), when sweetmeats are prepared. Two months later the four-dayKurban Bayramı (Feast of the Sacrifice) commemorates the Koranic version of Abraham’s sacrifice. This is the main annual public holiday in Turkey, and hotels, trains and roads are
packed. Strict Muslims also observe the festivals of Regaip Kandili, Miraç Kandili,Berat Kandili andMevlid-i-Nebi.

Istanbul was founded in the 7th century BC on a naturally defensive site from which trade along the Bosphorus could be controlled. For 16 centuries it was a great imperial capital, first of the Byzantine Empire and then of the Ottoman sultans. Some knowledge of the histories of these two civilizations helps the visitor to appreciate the magnificent monuments found throughout the city.

The topography of Istanbul was formed at the end of the last Ice Age, when meltwaters created the Bosphorus. The Stone Age cultures in the areawere replaced by Copper Age villages and walled BronzeAge towns. The Bosphorus was an important trade route in the ancient world along which ships carried wine
and olive oil north from the Mediterranean, and grain, skins, wool, timber, wax, honey, salted meat and salted fish south from regions around the Black Sea.
The area around the Bosphorus was subjugated by a series of peoples, starting with the Mycenaeans (1400– 1200BC). Between 800 and 680 BC the region was controlled by the kingdom of Phrygia. Later, in 676 BC, Greek expeditionaries founded the city of Chalcedon (on the site where modern Kadıköy now stands).
The foundation of Istanbul is usually dated to 667 BC when, according to legend, a Greek colonist, Byzas, led an expedition from the overcrowded cities of Athens and Megara to  establish a colony on the European side of the Bosphorus. This colony, known as Byzantion, grew to be a successful independent city-state, or polis, one of the 40 most important such states throughout the Ancient Greek world. During the next few centuries, Byzantion worked in partnership with Chalcedon, using the same coinage and sharing the tolls exacted from passing sea trade. But Byzantion had to struggle to maintain its independence in the mercurial politics of the ancient world. It endured Lydian (560–546 BC), Persian (546–478 BC), Athenian (478–411BC) and Macedonian (334– 281BC) rule before briefly regaining its autonomy. In 64 BC it was subsumed into the RomanEmpire as Byzantium. The city was almost destroyed in AD 195 bySeptimius Severus because of its support for his rival for the imperial throne, Pescennius Niger. It survived the Goths’ devastation of Chalcedon in AD 258 but trade in the region dramatically declined in the following years.

Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...


Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...