6 November 2012
Last updated at 09:58
Suleymaniye Mosque, is one of the most iconic sights of Istanbul's skyline. Despite losing its capital status to Ankara when Turkey became a republic, the city continues to exert its influence. (Picture by Saygin Serdaroglu, words by Stephen Dowling and Saygin Serdaroglu/NAR Photos)
A child hangs on the iron bars of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Uskudar. Uskudar, on the city's Asian shore, is a densely populated neighbourhood with many historic mosques.
People wait in front of a Ramadan fast-breaking tent in Eminonu, on the city's European side. The district, formerly part of the old walled city, lies next to the inlet known as The Golden Horn.
A ferry passes in front of Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, in the European district of Besiktas. The palace was the main administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire for most of the period between 1856 to 1922.
Istanbul's population has increased in recent years. In 1990 there were some seven million people living in the city - now the total is approaching 14 million. The lure of employment continues to bring people from rural Anatolia.
Dervishes of Istanbul Sema Group perform at the Galata Mevlevihanesi Museum in Istanbul. Popularly known as the 'whirling dervishes', the dancers are drawn from the Mevlevi sect, who dance in order to achieve religious ecstasy. The practice was briefly banned after Turkey became a republic in 1923.
Despite the construction of many modern shopping centres, many locals continue to buy goods in local outdoor malls and markets, like this one in Uskudar.
Galata Bridge spans the Golden Horn and links the traditional city centre to Galata, part of the Beyoglu district. The bridge is often thronged with fishermen catching fish to sell or eat. The Bosphorus' rich waters were hailed by the likes of Aristotle; now some fear pollution and over fishing is depleting stocks.
People shop in Istinye Park Shopping Centre. The centre features both enclosed and open air sections and boasts nearly 300 stores. The city is undergoing rapid modernisation as its population grows.
The Spice Bazaar or Egyptian Bazaar is one of the largest bazaars in the city and the centre of the spice trade. It has been standing since the late 17th century, with more than 80 shops under its domes.
The Spice Bazaar was, historically, the last stop for spice merchants travelling from China, India and Persia.
Suleymaniye Mosque is the largest mosque in Istanbul and one of its best-known sights, standing since 1558. The original complex consisted of the mosque itself, a hospital, primary school, public baths, a Caravanserai (roadside inn), four religious schools, a specialised school for learning Koranic law, a medical college, and a public kitchen which served food to the poor.
Bosphorus Bridge is one of the two bridges in Istanbul spanning the Bosphorus strait and connecting Europe and Asia. The government has plans to build a third, but critics say it will add more traffic congestion and destroy much-needed green space.
A waiter serves Turkish coffee in Pierre Loti in Eyup, on the European side of the city, named after a French novelist and naval officer who fell in love with the city. Istanbul now attracts millions of tourists a year and was European City of Culture in 2010.
Istiklal Avenue is one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, located in the European district of Beyoglu. It is visited by nearly three million people each day over the course of the weekend.