After 1980s, the major cities of Turkey have experienced urban transformation process following the changes in the international trade policy and the impact of globalization. Istanbul took the highest amount of share from these transformation processes as being the most important economic, cultural and tourism centre and the most integrated centre to the world economy of the country. This paper describes Istanbul's historical development, investigates demographic profile and spatial distribution of employment and illustrates multi-centre development of the city. Decentralization of population and jobs illustrate the multi-centre development. Multi-centre development contributes to sustainable urban development which provides efficient energy use and prevents pollution. Istanbul having a long history, large population and being in a very strategic location between Asia and Europe greatly effected from globalization which is reflected in its transformation of urban structure and increased land values and thus offered great opportunities for the real estate investors. The role of Istanbul within the world hierarchy of cities is suggested for further research. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.