Practical Information for International Students
Istanbul, once known as the capital of capital cities, has many unique features. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and the only one to have been a capital during two consecutive empires - Christian and Islamic. Once capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul still remains the commercial, historical and cultural pulse of Turkey, and its beauty lies in its ability to embrace its contradictions. Ancient and modern, religious and secular, Asia and Europe, mystical and earthly all co-exist here.
Its variety is one of Istanbul’s greatest attractions: The ancient mosques, palaces, museums and bazaars reflect its diverse history. The thriving shopping area of Taksim buzzes with life and entertainment. And the serene beauty of the Bosphorus, Princes Islands and parks bring a touch of peace to the otherwise chaotic metropolis.
The seas and the lands have divided the lacework geography of Istanbul into four regions. Old Istanbul City and Galata in the shores of Golden Horn (Haliç) and previously different village now united residential districts are located along the straits of Bosphorus. As the smallest sea of the world, inhabited places along the shores of Marmara Sea shows the magnitude that the city has reached. The Old City is spread over the seven hills of the triangular peninsular surrounded by 22 km of city walls.
Having been in the center of Old World, Istanbul is an important megapole with its historical monuments and wonderful natural scenery. Established where Asian and European Continents were split with a narrow strait, built on two continents, it is the only city that the sea goes through. With its history of over 2500 years, Istanbul had become an important commerce center because of its establishment in this strategic location where land meets sea. Historical city of Istanbul is located on a peninsular, surrounded by Marmara Sea, Bosphorus Straits and Golden Horn.
Istanbul is located in the coordinates of 280 01’ and 290 55’ East longitudes and 410 33’ and 400 28’ North latitudes. While joining Black Sea and Marmara Sea, Istanbul Straits divides Asian and European Continent as well as Istanbul City. The province is bordered by high summits of Kocaeli Mountain Ranges in the East, by Marmara Sea in the South and waterline of Ergene Basin in the West.
The city had become the capital city of three great empires, namely Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Turks; and, was ruled by more than 120 emperor and sultans over 1600 years. Istanbul is the only city that has all these features. During its development, the city underwent expansion for four times, which all of them were westward. In the 5th century, there was an Istanbul which was surrounded by city walls of Romans and built over 7 hills.
But, the foundation of today’s Istanbul was grounded in 7th century B.C. Rebuilt by Emperor Constantine in 4th century A.D., the city had been transformed to capital city; since then, it had preserved that title for almost 16 centuries by hosting the capital cities of Rome, Byzantine and Ottomans. Being one of the centers of Christianity starting with Emperor Constantine, Istanbul was considered as one of the most important cities of Islamic World, after its conquest in 1453 by Ottomans.
Istanbul’s cultural activities, both traditional and contemporary, is rich and varied, although not well publicized. Matching the city’s exploding youth population, there is a growing number of festivals, galleries, new music venues and film centers and, within the last decade, Turkish artists have begun to make an international impact.
The most reliable guide to music events in the city is fly posters and banners along Istiklal Caddesi.
Foreign films, mostly from Hollywood, outnumber Turkish domestic output and generally show in their original language with Turkish subtitles. Most of the city’s cinemas are in Istiklal Caddesi, in Beyoglu.
The Turkish State Opera and Ballet performs at the Atatürk Kültür Merkezi and there are also dance performances at the indoor Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall, Darülbedayi Caddesi, Conference Valley, Harbiye.
Plays by international and Turkish playwrights are frequently staged in Istanbul, many in smaller venues off Istiklal Caddesi, while the more commercial extravaganzas (such as during the Istanbul International Theatre Festival usually held in May) are at the Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, sometimes with digital subtitling in English.
Tickets for most cultural events are available at Biletix outlets (website: www.biletix.com), located at Ada bookshop on Istiklal Caddesi, Vakkorama, MMMigros supermarkets and Raksotek record stores.
By Road: Not surprisingly, Istanbul is well connected to every part of Turkey. Buses are frequent and plentiful, and the main coach station (otogar) is at Esenler, on the European side. There are countless independent bus companies, all of whom have a ticket office at the station and the larger ones have offices dotted around town, especially in areas like Taksim, Sultanahmed and Besiktas. Prices vary slightly regarding quality of the vehicle. There are also departures from Harem, on the Asian side. For journeys further afield, there buses to Greece, Macedonia, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Russia, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria and Jordan.
Bus Station Tel: (+ 90 212) 658 05 05, 658 10 10, 333 37 63, 310 63 63.
Within the city, public transport is a good way of getting around. There are minibuses, buses, taxis, trams (from Aksaray) a new subway (between Taksim and Levent) and a tiny electric tramcar (Beyoglu to Taksim). If you would like to book bus most preferable companies Varan, Ulusoy companies in high standard. Normal bus companies Kamil Koc, Metro, Pamukkale. When you need to book bus it is no problem except for the holidays you can find mostly seats before one day.
By Air : Ataturk International Airport is 20 km from city centre. The new airport is the biggest in the country, with the most international flights. There are direct flights to every European capital, and many to Asia, USA and the Middle East. The domestic terminal has flights to every domestic airport in the country, with several a day to major cities like Ankara and Izmir. Turkish Airlines (THY) is the national carrier.
Useful contacts: Airport Tel : (0212) 663 64 00/663 63 00/663 63 71/663 63 72/663 63 73/663 63 74 /663 63 75.
Ataturk Airport DHM Organization: (0212) 663 64 00
Domestic flights: (0212) 663 63 00
International flights: (0212) 663 63 00
Cargo Reservation: (0212) 663 63 00
For the domestic flight tickets please send us your inquiry by mail we can arrange your flight bookings.
By Rail: Not as popular a mode of transport as buses, with a much smaller network, there are rail connections from Istanbul to Ankara, Izmir and Eastern Anatolian cities. Most of the services are slower than buses, although between the three main cities there are the mavi tren, mototren or ekspresi, which are fast and comfortable. Reservations are essential for these journeys, and there are several classes of seats and sleepers. International services from Sirkeci (on the European side) and Haydarpasa (Asian side) stations include Vienna, Munich, Budapest, Salonica, (via Eskisehir, Konya, and Gaziantep), Aleppo, (via Tatvan and Van), Tehran, Moscow and Bucharest. Trains heading west leave from Sirkeci, and east from Haydarpasa station.
Sirkeci Information Tel: (0212) 527 0050/51.
Reservations Tel: (0212) 520 6575
Haydarpasa Information Tel: (0216) 336 0475/2063.
Reservations Tel: (0216) 336 4470, 337 8724.
By Boat Maritime Lines run both the urban and national transport. Marinas also have connections with European ports. Urban Maritime Transportation runs ships which operate between the following destinations within Istanbul: Kadikoy – Haydarpasa – Karakoy; Eminonu – Uskudar; Eminonu – Kadikoy; Bridge – Yenikoy; Beykoz – Kavaklar; Sirkeci - Bostanci, Bridge – Prince’s Islands; Bridge – Yalova; Kabatas – Cinarcik; Bostanci - Cinarcik. Boats operate from Istanbul to the following Black Sea towns: Zonguldak, Sinop, Samsun, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, as well as Izmir. Marmara Lines run to Marmara Island, Bandirma and Mudanya.
Useful contacts: Port Tel : (+90 - 212) 245 53 66/249 71 78/249 18 96.
Address: TDY Maritime Lines Agency, Rihtim Cad. Kadikoy, Istanbul Information Tel: (+ 90 - 212) 244 25 02/244 02 07
Intercity Train Stations
Istanbul has two intercity train stations: Istanbul (Sirkeci) Garı on the Golden Horn, and Haydarpaşa Garı on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. Take the Zeytinburnu-Kabataş tram to Sirkeci for European trains, or to Karaköy for the ferry to Haydarpasa.
Transportation in Istanbul
Istanbul has two airports, the major Atatürk International Airport near Yesilköy 23 km (14 miles) west of the city center, reachable by Metro; and Sabiha Gökçen Airport on the east side of the Bosphorus.
Transit Passes Electronic tickets and transit passes make using public transport easy in Istanbul: Metro, tram, bus, ferry, train.
City Bus City bus routes get you to some places you'll want to visit. Buy tickets before boarding at kiosks (often white fiberglass cubes) labeled "I.E.T.T" and/or "Bilet" (ticket), or use the Akbil prepaid electronic fare system.
Intercity Bus Istanbul has two intercity bus terminals, the major Istanbul International Bus Terminal (Büyük Otogar) at Bayrampasa/ Esenler on the western side of the Bosphorus, serving the entire country as well as Greece, Bulgaria, the Balkans and Europe; and the Harem Otogar on the eastern shore of the Bosphorus north of Haydarpasa Station, serving Anatolian Turkey and the Middle East.
Tram You'll find Istanbul's two tram lines useful, even though they're as different as can be. Although the nostalgic 19th century Istiklal Caddesi tram is more fun, the Eminönü/Kabatas-Zeytinburnu tram is the more useful, and can help you travel between the heart of the tourist district at Sultanahmet Square and the Otogar (bus terminal) and/or Atatürk Airport.
Metro Two lines of Istanbul's Metro system are in operation. The most useful for foreign visitors is the light-rail line connecting Atatürk Airport and Aksaray Square via Istanbul's mammoth Otogar (intercity bus station), at which you can board a bus to any part of Turkey or to virtually any country within 1000 miles (1600 km) of Istanbul. Change to the tram at Zeytinburnu to reach Old Istanbul. Also, a standard-gauge Metro line goes north from Taksim Square to the commercial districts.
Tünel Tünel is Istanbul's little 19th-century two-station underground train connecting Karaköy (Galata) and the southwestern end of Istiklal Caddesi. It's convenient and fun.
Füniküler Inaugurated in 2006, the Füniküler (underground funicular) connects Taksim Square and Kabatas on the Bosphorus shore. At Kabatas you can board a ferryboat, sea bus, or the Zeytinburnu tram.
Intercity Train Stations Istanbul has two intercity train stations: Istanbul (Sirkeci) Garı on the Golden Horn, and Haydarpaşa Garı on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. Take the Zeytinburnu-Kabataş tram to Sirkeci for European trains, or to Karaköy for the ferry to Haydarpasa.
Suburban Train Suburban commuter trains depart Sirkeci Station, trundle around Seraglio Point and continue along the Sea of Marmara shore stopping at the Yenikapı Ferry Terminal (for intercity car and passenger ferries across the Sea of Marmara) and at Yeşilyurt near Atatürk International Airport. Slightly better suburban trains depart Haydarpasa Station and travel along the northern shore of the Sea of Marmara on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.
Ferryboat Traditional white IDO ferries and private TurYol ferries serve shorter water routes, and are the most enjoyable way to get around Istanbul.
Special daily Touristic Bosphorus Ferries run from Eminönü's Dock 2 up the Bosphorus almost to the Black Sea several times daily. Both catamaran seabuses and ferryboats travel to the Princes Islands near Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara.
Sea Bus, Catamaran Sleek modern passenger catamarans zoom around the city at rush hour, and out to the Princes Islands several times daily. There are even Sea of Marmara routes to Yalova and Bandirma on the sea's southern shore.
Ships & Cruise Lines Foreign cruise ships and international ferries dock at the Yolcu Salonu in Karaköy at the northern end of the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn, right in the center of the city.
Taxi Thousands of yellow taxis, most powered by clean-burning natural gas, throng Istanbul's streets. You'll find them useful and not overly expensive.
Dolmus Minibus Dolmus means "filled," which is what the vehicle needs to be before it departs on its customary route. The dolmus (DOHL-moosh) is Turkey's shared taxi or minibus. You may find them helpful occasionally in Istanbul.
On Foot The best way to get around Istanbul's compact medieval core is on foot. Traffic is often so heavy, and traffic patterns so circuitous, that you can often walk somewhere faster than riding.
On Visa Formalities..
For information on entry/student visas in Turkey see:
1.General Visa: http://www.mfa.gov.tr/sub.en.mfa?cc4e437c-6769-4d79-9017-10b63c651224
Students who want to study and reside in Turkey must get a student visa before they arrive in Turkey. After having received the acceptance letter from Istanbul Kültür University and prepared the related documents, you can apply to the nearest Turkish consulate for a student-visa. The initial entry visa (the red stamp on your visa page) will emphasize that you have 30 days after your arrival in Turkey to register at the police station.
After your arrival in Istanbul, European and International Center staff at Istanbul Kültür University will help you with the registration procedures.