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Galata Bridge, ca. 1895 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Istanbul: Gateway to History, Memory and Magic

For a moment, if one could conjure up in one’s mind's eye Istanbul, a city of magic, mystery, strategic geographical importance, and historic consequence: Standing on the Galata Bridge, facing north, one gazes in the direction of the Black Sea, on whose far shores lie Ukraine and the Crimea; Bulgaria and Romania a little west of north and Russia to the northeast. To the right one points to Asia, home of a storied history that is being reconsidered and deciphered more every day as new and exciting archaeological discoveries are being brought to light. This region is Anatolia, also called Asia Minor or, in Turkish, Anadolu.

To the left lies Europe, old Trakya 1900 (Public Domain) and to the right lies Asia, old Anatolia (Public Domain)

To the left lies Europe, old Trakya 1900 (Public Domain) and to the right lies Asia, old Anatolia (Public Domain)

To the left lies Europe, with its own rich and varied story. Here lies the portion of Turkey called Thrace, or, in Turkish, Trakya. It consists of only three per cent of the Turkish land mass but is home to 10 per cent of its population. To the south, the Sea of Marmara connects with the Black Sea at the Bosporus Strait, the famous Golden Horn, and flows into the Aegean through the Dardanelles Strait and thence to the Mediterranean.


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