Istanbul, Turkey

2012-05-27

There, God and human, nature and art altogether created a perfect place on earth. With one wing on Asia and with the other on Europe, Istanbul, Turkey is one of the most beautiful and colorful cities of the world. Variety of options and enchanting landscape in Istanbul is captivating visitors for centuries. Cosmopolitan yet fascinating, unique in so many ways, the city of Istanbul is dotted with innumerable historical places, museums, landmarks, churches, mosques, palaces, ascending minarets and grand bazaars – each carrying marks of different cultures. The silhouette of more than 500 minarets ascending into the city’s skyline creates a spectacular view. With our Istanbul travel guide we make it easy to explore this huge city which once served as the capital of Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire with the name Constantinople, and finally the Ottoman Empire. During Ottoman period the city’s name was changed to Istanbul. Today, the city perfectly preserves the magnificence of its past while heading towards the modern future.

Situated in the heart of ancient world, Istanbul is famous for its historical monuments and architectural masterpieces. Named Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles used for its decoration, Sultanahmet Mosque with its 6 minarets has become the symbol of the city, and is one of the most important tourist attractions in Turkey. Opposite the Blue Mosque is Hagia Sophia Museum built as a church during the Emperor Justinian. This masterpiece of architecture is decorated with exquisite mosaic panels depicting Jesus, Mary and emperors. Gazing at these two monuments from another hill is Süleymaniye Mosque, which is a great example of Ottoman architecture. The mosque was built by architect Mimar Sinan at the request of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent.

Situated on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus Strait and the Marmara Sea is Topkapı Palace, which was once home and political center of the Ottoman Sultans for hundreds of years. Here you can see the dazzling displays of the treasures of the Ottoman Sultans which include Chinese porcelain collection, Golden embroidered and precious stone decorated thrones, costumes of sultans, jewelry collections, rare manuscript books and harem halls which captured the imagination of the West for centuries.

Between Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) and Blue Mosque is the famous Byzantine Hippodrome where chariot races and athletic events took place. There are also three obelisks in the middle of hippodrome from the same period.

Yerebatan Cistern is one of the most important water cisterns built in Byzantine period. Considered as one of the most beautiful works of Byzantine period, the Kariye Museum (also known as the Chora Church) is still preserving its original mosaic and fresco decoration today.

Istanbul is a city where ancient world meets with modern world in a great harmony. The Bazaar with its maze structure evoking the dreamy days of the past insists on bearing the traces of ancient times, and yet offers the newest brands of the world; impressive jewelry, copper items, carpets, various leather and suede clothing… Once you are gravitated by the lure of the bazaar, you will walk hours and hours but will never feel tired.

A boat trip on the Bosphorus is a unique experience. Lined on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait, tranquil and unique residences each with different love stories reflecting to waters, luxury villas built in 20th century, Dolmabahçe, Göksu and Beylerbeyi Palaces, Rumeli and Anatolian Fortresses, traces from fishing villages, tea gardens, parks, night clubs and restaurants will fascinate you. The same day, you can swim on the wild coast of the Black Sea, later sipping a cup of coffee in a tea garden on the Marmara’s tranquil coast; perhaps you can write your historical memories.

In addition to its unique past and innumerable attractions, Istanbul’s modern hotels, rare restaurants, night clubs, traditional nargile (the Turkish water pipe) cafés, cabarets, historical bazaars and shops make Istanbul a perfect destination for a unique vacation.

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