Located at the point where Europe meets Asia, Istanbul spans both continents and is the place where cultures mix and mingle: where east meets west and ancient meets modern.
And though the city is traditionally known for its mosque-dotted skyline and its spectacular historic monuments and palaces like the Aya Sofya and Topkapi Palace, today Istanbul is taking on a new role as hipsters, foodies, artists and fashionistas are quickly transforming the city into a bastion of cool.
Perhaps it began to truly morph into its current shape around 2010, when Istanbul was designated as the European Capital of Culture and it underwent drastic renovations to prepare for the year it hosted a series of cultural events. Since then, the city has become a playground for the young and hip.
Today all around the district of Beyoglu, on the European side, once-crumbling buildings have been renovated and turned into fancy boutique hotels, designer shops and trendy restaurants. The neighborhood of Ortaköy, which was once a small fishing village, is now home to sophisticated nightclubs and restaurants right on the Bosphorus. And entire swaths of the city which were once run-down and neglected, given over to prostitution and other illicit activities—like the leafy neighborhood of Cihangir—are now gentrified hotspots.
And there's so much ongoing construction—the city is constantly buzzing with the sounds of jackhammers and machinery—that the face of Istanbul will continue to be transformed.
Located in a former warehouse on the Bosphorus, the Istanbul Modern showcases cutting-edge contemporary art from Turkish artists.
The restaurant at the Istanbul Modern serves modern international cuisine in a sleek design-conscious setting.
Nearby, the neighborhood of Cihangir is quickly becoming one of the coolest areas in Istanbul, attracting hipsters and artists with its Bohemian chic vibe and its cafes, shops and galleries.
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