The Istanbul cityscape is dominated by ancient religious mosques and modern skyscrapers.

Great cities have great skylines but a great skyline doesn’t always have modern high-rise buildings. This is the case with the city of Istanbul. Istanbul does not have a city center of high-rise buildings, it has a mass of mid-rise buildings that seem to stretch as far as the eye can see. What makes the Istanbul cityscape unique is that it has over 3,000 mosques and many of them have minarets (tall towers) that rise above the rooftops of the normal building height.

Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the 5th largest city in the world by population. This massive population does not stretch skyward like many populated cities but it stretches across. When viewing the city from the Sea of Marmara the Istanbul cityscape stretches along the coast and across the Bosphorus Strait which separates the continents of Asia and Europe, making Istanbul one of the few cities that has its city limits in two different continents.

City of Contrasts

Similar to the city being separated by two continents, it is also separated by time. When scanning across the cityscape, it is obvious where the old city is located and where the modern city exists. The old city is dominated by the minarets of centuries old mosques towering over the mass of low-rise buildings.

In contrast to the old city, the new city resembles many modern cities with modern skyscrapers soaring above the otherwise panorama of low-rise buildings.

Identifiable buildings

All great city skylines have buildings that make the city instantly identifiable. Istanbul is a city that spans history and the identifiable buildings in its cityscape reflects its historical roots. The oldest building in the cityscape is the Hagia Sophia which was built in 537 AD making it 1,487 years old. Other ancient building are the Topkapi Palace built in 1448 and the Blue Mosque built in 1616.

On the modern side of Istanbul is the Ahirdapi Lighthouse built in 1857 and the telecommunication tower which is as modern as it gets being built in 2021. All of these identifiable buildings are shown below in order from oldest to most modern.

City on the sea

Istanbul sits on the northeastern shores of Sea of Marmara. It is a major port that services Asia and Europe with entrances into the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The port city is bustling with non-stop boat traffic coming and going into the city. The photos below shows the scenic port side views of Turkey’s largest sea side city.

Distinguishing Images

Sometimes I take photos that really capture the spirit of a location. My last two photos in this post are photos that I feel capture the identity of Istanbul, Turkey.

The Dust on My Shoes

I have always had an affection for big city skylines, particularly at night because I think the modern building lit up at night are impressive. The Istanbul cityscape is not like most big city skylines that I have seen. Istanbul does have some modern buildings but they are not grouped together enough to create an impressive skyline however the massive mosques in the old city tower over the lower buildings in the cityscape and make for a unique city setting.

The Istanbul cityscape may not have the modern glamour to it like many other big cities but it makes up for it with its historical sites that emerge out of the massive mid-rise buildings.

Related Posts


4 thoughts on “Istanbul Cityscape – Turkey”

  1. I was there last year. Istanbul is a maze of side streets, and you can explore it forever. I was also lost more than once, but the people are friendly and they helped me to find how to return to my rented apartment.

    Istanbul has many small cafes. You can sample western food, eastern food, and most other varieties. You will never be bored.

    Thanks for the photos.

    1. Ted, getting lost in Istanbul is something that should be expected but that is part of the adventure of seeing places like Istanbul.

      Having Turkish coffee in a small café at a sidewalk table while watching the people pass by is one of my favorite memories from Istanbul.

  2. Beautiful pictures Doug. Certainly Turkey / Istanbul is my bucket list.

    1. Thanks Ashoak! It was on my bucket list for many years and I finally had my chance to go. I hope that you will get your chance to visit Turkey.

Comments are closed.