Coveted by empires across the centuries, straddling both Europe and Asia

Destinations / Istanbul / Turkey

Istanbul offers magical activities and thrilling city tours for every kind of point of interests. Istanbul is the most important city of Turkey in terms of economic, historical and socio-cultural structure and for travelers, that means there is a lot to discover!

Istanbul’s strategic location has attracted many marauding armies over the centuries. The Greeks, Romans and Venetians took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay – physical reminders of their various tenures are found across the city.

In so doing, they gave the city a cultural diversity that it retains to this day.

Coveted by empires across the centuries, straddling both Europe and Asia, Istanbul is one of the world’s great metropolises. Founded around 1000 BC, the colony of Byzantium grew into the Byzantine Empire’s great capital of Constantinople and after the Ottoman conquest of the city, retained its glorious place as the heart of their empire.

The city (officially renamed Istanbul after the founding of the Turkish republic) is liberally scattered with glorious remnants of its long and illustrious history, and the sightseeing here will impress even the most monument-weary visitor. The fact that the city straddles two continents wasn’t its only drawcard – it was the final stage on the legendary Silk Road linking Asia with Europe, and many merchants who came here liked it so much that they, too, decided to stay. In so doing, they gave the city a cultural diversity that it retains to this day.

Visit the Topkapi Palace with amazing architecture,  the vast complex is a dazzling display of Islamic art, with opulent courtyards lined with intricate hand-painted tile-work, linking a warren of sumptuously decorated rooms, all bounded by battlemented walls and towers.

History resonates when you visit the majestic Byzantine basilica of Aya Sofya. Built by order of the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, its rising dome, huge nave and glittering gold mosaics contribute to its reputation as one of the world’s beautiful buildings, and its history as church, mosque and museum make the Hagia Sophia, which is the church of holy wisdom, the city’s most revealing time capsule.

Now a standing museum and worldly known and acknowledged as one of the greatest buildings. nearby is the Blue Mosque The mosque gets its nickname from its interior decoration of tens of thousands of Iznik tiles. The entire spatial and color effect of the interior make the mosque one of the finest achievements of Ottoman architecture. The Grand Bazaar is massive a covered market is basically the world’s first shopping mall; taking up a whole city quarter, surrounded by thick walls, between the Nure Osmanıye Mosque and Beyazıt Mosque. Here you will find local crafts and beautiful handmade jewellery, best carpets, antiques and rare unique pieces.

There is rail service along the walls of the old city, and Haydarpaşa station, on the Asian side of the city, is the starting point of the Baghdad Railway. Maritime services include many forms of transport, from harbour dinghies and small ferries to international liners. Buses provide internal urban transportation, and the ferries range as far as the Kızıl Adalar (Princes Islands), several hours sailing to the south.

Istanbul Airport is close to the city’s centre and provides both international and domestic service.

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