Istanbul is the largest city of Turkey and the third largest city in the world. The city covers 27 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents. In its long history, Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
The Ayasofya Mosque is identified as the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, constructed by Justinian I (527-565) following his ascension to the throne and is often considered the pre-cursor to the Great Church of Hagia Sophia. It was built inside the sea walls along the Sea of Marmara and stood in close proximity to the Hormisdas Palace, Justinian's residence prior to his enthronement. Historical resources show that the church dedicated to the Sts. Sergius and Bacchus was built adjoining the north wall of an existing basilica dedicated to the Sts. Peter and Paul. The two churches shared a courtyard to the west and were surrounded by monastery buildings managed by the Monophysites.
The Galata Tower (Turkish: Galata Kulesi), also called Christea Turris ( Tower of Christ ) by the Genoese and Megalos Pyrgos ( The Great Tower ) by the Byzantines, is located in Istanbul, Turkey, to the north of the Golden Horn. One of the city's most striking landmarks, it is a huge, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline on the Galata side of the Golden Horn. The tower was built as Christea Turris in 1348 The current tower should not be confused with the old Tower of Galata, an original Byzantine tower, named Megalos Pyrgos , which controlled the northern end of the massive sea chain that closed the entrance of the Golden Horn. This tower was on a different site and was largely destroyed during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
The Dolmabahçe Palace (Turkish: Dolmabahçe Sarayı ) in Istanbul, Turkey, located at the European side of the Bosporus, served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire from 1853 to 1922, apart from a twenty-year interval (1889-1909) in which the Yıldız Palace was used .
The Topkapı Palace (Turkish: Topkapı Sarayı ) is a palace in Istanbul, Turkey, which was the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans, from 1465 to 1853. The palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments and is a major tourist attraction today. The name directly translates as "Cannongate Palace", from the palace being named after a nearby, now lost gate.
Initial construction started in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II. The palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, formerly covering a larger area with a long shoreline. The complex has been expanded over the centuries, with many renovations such as after the 1509 earthquake and 1665 fire.
The Basilica Cistern (Turkish: ' Yerebatan Sarayı' or 'Yerebatan Sarnıcı' ), is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that still lie beneath the city of Istanbul, former Constantinople, Turkey. The cistern, located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul next to the Hagia Sophia, was built during the reign of emperor Justinian I in the 6th century, the age of glory of Eastern Rome, also called the Byzantine Empire.
The Turkish bath (Turkish: hamam ) is the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath, which can be categorized as a wet relative of the sauna. They have played an important role in cultures of the Middle-East, serving as places of social gathering, ritual cleansing, and as architectural structures, institutions, and (later) elements with special customs attached to them. Europeans learned about the Hamam via contacts with the Ottomans, hence the "Turkish" part of the name.
Rumeli fortress is located in Istanbul, Turkey, on a hill at the European side of the Bosphorus just north of the Bebek district; giving the name of the quarter around it. It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II between 1451 and 1452.Just opposite the Anadoluhisarı on the Anatolian side, another Ottoman fortress which was built between 1393 and 1394 by Sultan Bayezid I.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the national mosque of Turkey, and is a historical mosque in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire . The mosque is one of several mosques known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior .It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a madrasah and a hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque has become one of the greatest tourist attractions of Istanbul.
Istanbul's Grand Bazaar ( Kapalı Çarsı , or Covered Market) is Turkey's largest covered market offering excellence.It has got beautiful Turkish carpets, glazed tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, apparel made of leather, cotton and wool, meerschaum pipes, alabaster bookends and ashtrays, and all sorts of other things. Most guidebooks claim that it has 4000 shops. Because of consolidation and replacement of shops by restaurants and other services the number is certainly lower, but you get the idea: it has lots of shops. Not all of them, by the way, are for tourists; locals shop here as well, lending a welcome dose of authenticity.