December 19, 2011

Megacity with Ambitions to Match

Standing between the tramline and the Grand Bazaar, with no plaque to mark it out, a forlorn column bears witness to Istanbul’s long history as a world city.

This ancient mass of porphyry, once topped by a statue of the emperor Constantine, was built to mark the inauguration of the new centre of the Roman empire in 330AD. Only in 1923, after 16 centuries of triumphs and defeats under Byzantines and Ottomans, did the city lose its status as a capital.

But today Istanbul is at the forefront of the world stage once again. Kadir Topbas, mayor, argues that Istanbul’s “increasing prestige, brand value and economic power” is more than a match for the challenges it faces in infrastructure and other areas. “Istanbul is a city the world looks at with envy,” he claims.

Home to the biggest banks and companies of a self-confident Turkey, Istanbul is a multitude of cities crammed into one – an industrial hub; a centre of financial activity; a diplomatic and conference meeting point with a backdrop beyond compare; a megacity whose 15m-strong population makes it Europe’s largest.

Read more on Financial Times: Megacity with Ambitions to Match


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