In­trigu­ing, En­dur­ing Is­tan­bul

An­cient and age­less, the city on the Bosporus un­wraps its se­crets at the edge of two con­ti­nents

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Lark Gould

An­cient and age­less, the city on the Bosporus un­wraps its se­crets

What­ever can be said about Is­tan­bul, the word re­silience may de­scribe it best. Is­tan­bul, if not Turkey, stands against the cen­turies of change and con­flict – through Greek set­tle­ments and Ro­man con­quests, through Mus­lim pen­e­tra­tion and Ot­toman dom­i­na­tion, through Al­lied align­ment and na­tional in­de­pen­dence, through its mem­ber­ship in NATO, to its place to­day at the fore­front of an ever-emerg­ing Mid­dle East predica­ment.

The pil­lars of the Blue Mosque present a cer­tain majesty as the sun sets be­hind the seven hills on which Is­tan­bul was built. The sight stirs awe in the Strait of Bosporus, as pas­sen­gers on cargo and cruise ships pass be­tween Europe and Asia mak­ing their way from the mighty Mediter­ranean to the land-locked Black Sea.

In this his­tory-laden metropo­lis the fu­ture is busy at work – creat­ing, build­ing, in­vent­ing, re­spond­ing to the de­mands of a city on the edge. Is­tan­bul is a city that has gam­bled ev­ery­thing it has on keep­ing its place as one of the top des­ti­na­tions in the world for busi­ness, in­dus­try and tourism while ag­gres­sively pre­serv­ing its legacy as guardian to the cross­roads of civ­i­liza­tion.

While re­cent months have brought some un­for­tu­nate events to Is­tan­bul’s doorstep: a foiled govern­ment coup at­tempt in July, an at­tack at the in­ter­na­tional air­port the month be­fore, an at­tack at a tourism site in Jan­uary, and a geopo­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion that makes the coun­try vul­ner­a­ble to, if not right at the epi­cen­ter of, the on­go­ing mi­gra­tions to Europe from Syria and other volatile ter­ri­to­ries, Turkey has stood up to these chal­lenges and just kept on go­ing.

In Au­gust it opened what is, in fact, the world’s broad­est sus­pen­sion bridge – nearly 200 feet wide, ten lanes across with tow­ers ris­ing more than a thou­sand feet (the tallest sus­pen­sion bridge tow­ers in the world) over the Strait of Bosporus. The $3 bil­lionYavuz Sul­tan Se­lim Bridge is Is­tan­bul’s third for the cross­ing of this strate­gic wa­ter­way.

Mean­while, a third of the first phase of Is­tan­bul’s new air­port was re­cently com­pleted – a project touted to be the largest project so far in Turkey’s mod­ern his­tory. The project be­gan in May 2015 and is ex­pected to be ca­pa­ble of han­dling some 200 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally as well as flights to some 350 des­ti­na­tions when fi­nally com­pleted. The first phase com­ple­tion, with a goal for manag­ing


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