Located in the center of the Old World, Istanbul is one of the worlds great cities famous for its historical monuments and magnificent scenic beauties. It is the only city in the world which spreads over two continents: it lies at a point where Asia and Europe are separated by a narrow strait - the Bosphorus.
THETHE BOSPHORUS BOSPHORUS“The god and human, nature and art aretogether in there, they have created such aperfect place that it is valuable to see."Lamartine’s famous poetic line reveals his lovefor İstanbul
Istanbul has a history of over2,500 years, and ever since itsestablishment on this strategicjunction of lands and seas, the cityhas been a crucial trade center.
It has been the capital of three great empires,the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, and for more than 1,600 years over 120 emperorsand sultans ruled the world from here. No other city in the world can claim such a distinction.
As a capital of empires, the city was not onlyan administrative, but also a religious center.The Patriarchate of Eastern Christians hasbeen headquartered here since itsestablishment, and the largest early churchesand monasteries of the Christian world rose inthis city on top of the pagan temples. Within acentury after the city was conquered, it wasenriched with mosques, palaces, schools,baths and other architectural monuments thatgave it a Turkish character, while some of theexisting churches in ruins were repaired,altered and converted into mosques.
The seas and the lands created, with a great harmony, the geography of Istanbul like a work in lace, which divides naturally into four regions: the old town and Galata on the opposite shores of the Golden Horn, and the two sides of the Bosphorus. What used to be small individual villages on the Bosphorus are now united to form a whole.
Its variety is one of İstanbul’s greatest attractions: The ancient mosques, palaces, museums andbazaars reflect its diverse history. The thriving shopping area of Taksim buzzes with life andentertainment. And the serene beauty of the İstanbul strait, Princes Islands and parks bring atouch of peace to the otherwise chaotic metropolis.
A stay in İstanbul is not complete without a traditional and unforgettable boat excursion upthe İstanbul Strait, that winding strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores offer adelightful mixture of past and present, grand splendor and simple beauty. Modern hotelsstand next to “yalı” (shore-front wooden villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses,and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages.
Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) Museum : Ayasofya was built, for nearly a thousand years ago, is thelargest enclosed space in the world, and still seen as one of the world’s most important architecturalmonuments. It is one of Turkey’s most popular attractions, drawn by the sheer spectacle of its size,architecture, mosaics and art.It used to be a church for 916 years, then a mosque for 481 years, and since 1935 has been amuseum.
İstanbul St. Irene : This ranks as the first church built in İstanbul . It was commissioned byConstantine in the 4th century, and Justinian later had it restored. The building reputedlystands on the site of a pre-Christian temple.
Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Cistern) : Nearby Aya Sofia is the 6th century Byzantine undergroundBasilica cistern, with 335 massive Corinthian columns supporting the immense chamber’s finebrick vaulting. This is one of several buried into the city’s foundations, and the first to havebeen excavated and renovated. Thought to have been built in the 4th century by the emperorConstantine, then enlarged two centuries later, it was supplied with water from BelgradeForest, and supplied it to the Great Palace and Topkapi Palace.
Topkapı Palace MuseumIt is located on the promontory of the historicalpeninsula in İstanbul which overlooks both theMarmara Sea and the İstanbul strait. The wallsenclosing the palace grounds, the main gate on theland side and the first buildings were constructedduring the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (theConqueror) (1451 - 81). Topkapı Palace was theofficial residence of the Ottoman Sultans.
Shopping in Istanbul is often a big part of any visit, and the city’s famous historical bazaarsoffer a wonderful insight into city life. Whether shopping for carpets, spices, vegetables orclothes, the process of making your purchase is likely to be enhanced by the atmosphere ofwandering through the crowded stalls - and of course haggling. As usual when bargainingwith persuasive shop owners, have an idea of a good price before you start.
Considered to be a symbol of Istanbul, this tinytower was established on a small island at theentrance of the Bosphorus. In the past, it wasused as a watchtower and a lighthouse, untilits present purpose of a tourist attraction.Western sources describe this as Leander’sTower, who was drowned while swimming, toreach his lover Hera. Another story suggeststhat it was a tower where an emperor’sdaughter put her in there for security, havingdreamt that she would be bitten by a snake.
Galata TowerThe tower was built by the Genoese in 1348, duringtheir occupation of the area, primarily to preventattacks. Originally known as the Tower of Christ, itstood above the fortification surrounding theGenoese city-state. There is a spiral rock staircasewhich ascends to the top viewing platform, whichtoday offers visitors spectacular 360 degreepanorama of the entire city. The tower was restoredin 1967, and an elevator was installed to offer a lesstiring alternative to the steep climb. There is also arestaurant on the top floor.