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It was Constantinople, Now it's Istanbul

By Reck

Istanbul, once known as Constantinople, has always been an important city. With its unique location joining Asia to Europe, it has always been a nexus for new ideas, and a gateway between one world and the other. Today it stands as an emerging global city

As Istanbul becomes a global city, it attracts new immigrants at an incredible pace. Jenny B. White talks about this in "Bridge between Europe and Asia," and about how the millions of new residents have crowded into the city, and what once had distinguishable neighborhoods is now a massive hunk of crammed together housing and narrow streets.

Amidst all of this there are the same transnational elements we have seen in every global city we have seen so far on this voyage. The banks and skyscrapers have not changed from India, or Japan, just been relocated along the Bosphorus. Interspersed between the crowded neighborhoods and modern skyscrapers are numerous mosques, palaces, even old Roman cathedrals.

Istanbul was an important crossroads in ancient times. It is home to the Hagia Sophia, an old Roman Cathedral that was later converted into a mosque to reflect the changing influences upon the city, and later converted into a museum as the new Turkish nation embraced sectarianism to better fit in with the west. It remains an important crossroads today, where east meets west, and the transnational meets with another set of distinct vernacular elements.

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