But unlike the melancholy Istanbul I read about in Pamuk's memoirs, I found Istanbul to be a bustling and a thriving city. though the book describes the city in 1950s, 60s and the 70s, and says that the people of Istanbul were living under the shadow of the past glories of the Ottoman empire, and describes the burning yalis (villas) of the Pashas who could no longer maintain them, right now the city looks absolutely magnificent, and my colleagues in the Istanbul Office complaining about the sky high property prices and a similar villa by the Bosphorous (narrow strait of water connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea) would be costing upwards of a few million USD.
I also visited the old-fashioned covered bazar (similar to many indian bazars that I have seen but always feels great to buy trinkets in such a place), the Galata light house, the Topkapi Palace and the modern Dolmabahce palace. (tick marked all the touristy places)
Istanbul, is a classic place where east meets west. Lying on the edge of Europe and Asia (Istanbul itself has 2 sides, the European and the Asian side, divided by the strait of Bosphourous) and it was the Capital of the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, (and previously capital of the Byzantine Empire when it was called Byzantium) and was a key point in the silk route where indian and chinese goods passed through to Europe. (The decline as mentioned by Orhan Pamuk in his memoirs also has a lot to do with the Suez Canal and improved shipping routes which eliminated the cargo to travel by land and thus reduced the importance of Istanbul.
Also it has seen the rise and fall of many empires right from the Persian Emporer Darius invading Europe, and the Byzantine Empire, Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire and also one of the holy crusades have been fought here. Even today one can see the clash of the civilizations to some extent between the majority pro-western secular majority and the slowly rising pro-islamic powers.