Istanbul is the biggest city as far as population is concerned with 15 million 67 thousand 724 people in Turkey in 2018. On the other hand, according to official numbers, it is the 15th crowded city in the world and is among the top 20 most visited cities in the world in 2019.
Unlike any other city in the world
Istanbul is a unique city where two continents have the extension. Istanbul which is a transcontinental city has two parts is cut in half by the Bosphorus Strait, which separates Europe from Asia. One part is named European Side or Rumelian Side, the other is named Anatolian Side or Asian Side. Istanbul is divided into a number of different counties (ilçe).
City (il), municipality and il-çe
Istanbul’s full name is İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi (Istanbul Big City Municipality). Istanbul is a city (il, şehir). İlçe means smaller than a city; we add -çe after il to make the meaning of the word smaller since -çe is a diminutive suffix. Istanbul has 39 ilçe as an administrative district within a belediye under Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi. For example, Fatih is a belediye as is Bakırköy, Ataşehir, Sarıyer, and Avcılar. Each of these belediye has a mayor and so does Istanbul. That’s why no one lives in the city of Istanbul without living also in a district (like Üsküdar or Avcılar) which has its own government (like Avcılar İlçe Belediyesi or Kadıköy İlçe Belediyesi). It means that you have to write ilçe name in the address field when you want to renew your residence permit.
The European side of Istanbul offers access to the city’s most well-known attractions such as Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Spice Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern. It is more historical than the Asian Side. Also, it is more populated than the Asian side due to the fact that the European side has always been the center of trade, business, tourism, and industry.
The counties of European side of Istanbul are Arnavutköy, Avcılar, Bağcılar, Bahçelievler, Bakırköy, Başakşehir, Bayrampaşa, Beşiktaş, Beylikdüzü, Beyoğlu, Büyükçekmece, Çatalca, Esenler, Esenyurt, Eyüp, Fatih, Gaziosmanpaşa, Güngören, Kâğıthane, Küçükçekmece, Sarıyer, Silivri, Sultangazi, Şişli, Zeytinburnu.
Anatolian Side of Istanbul is the eastern half of the city of Istanbul, located east of Bosphorus and geographically on the Asian mainland. It is literally a continent away and offers you a glimpse of how the locals live. You may get more of a relaxed feeling with less traffic, less population, more green parks, more well-designed places and better coastal access than European side of Istanbul. There is here one of the highest hills of Istanbul called Çamlıca Tepesi, you can enjoy here with a good view, delicious food, and service. Also, Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayı), Maiden’s Tower (Kız Kulesi), Bağdat Caddesi (Baghdad Avenue), Moda, Haydarpaşa Station, Toy Museum (Oyuncak Müzesi), Anadolu Citadel (Anadolu Hisarı), Anadolu Kavağı, Yakacık Hill, Kalamis Yacht Marina must be visited on the Asian Side.
The counties of European side of Istanbul are Adalar, Ataşehir, Beykoz, Çekmeköy, Kadıköy, Kartal, Maltepe, Pendik, Sancaktepe, Sultanbeyli, Şile, Tuzla, Ümraniye, Üsküdar