Istanbul, Europe’s largest city, named European Capital of Culture for 2010

Istanbul, named European Capital of Culture for 2010, celebrated with spectacular fireworks displays, light shows, cultural performances, and concerts, which were arranged at seven locations across the city, symbolising the seven hills on which ancient Istanbul was built.

View of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus in Istanbul Turkey

The European Union chose Istanbul, Turkey’s and Europe’s largest city, as one of the three European Capitals of Culture for 2010 in 2006, along with Pécs in Hungary, and Essen in Germany. With its rich heritage and urban life, Istanbul is already recognized as one of the world’s great cultural capitals.

Istanbul beat Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, for the title and became the last European Capital of Culture outside the EU; after 2010, non-EU cities can no longer apply.

The celebrations started with a protocol event taking place at the Haliç Congress Centre, where Ministers from Turkey as well as neighboring countries participated.

“Istanbul is a European city. With its heart, its culture and civilization, its people, its past and future, it has always looked towards Europe. Istanbul has shaped European culture and has been shaped by it.” said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the country’s Prime Minister.

Istanbul also known as Byzantium and Constantinople is the largest city in Turkey and fifth largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.6 million. Istanbul is also a megacity, as well as the cultural and financial centre of Turkey. The city is located on the Bosphorus and the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents.

In its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

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