Steeped in history and one of the oldest cities of the world, Istanbul has something for everyone. In its time it has been the capital of three empires - Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman, and today Istanbul honours and preserves its past while embracing the future.
An international centre for art and culture, Istanbul is one of the greatest cities in the world. Centred on the natural harbour of the Golden Horn and spanning the Bosphorus, it is the only metropolis in the world to be built on two continents, Europe and Asia. In the South you have, the old city of Sultanahmet with its skyline of domes and minarets, a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets and quaint wooden houses. To the North you have the pulsating new city of Beyoglu and Taksim with its bright lights and modern skyline.
Due to its unique position Istanbul was a strategically important city in the old world. Over the centuries Istanbul has had many rulers, each leaving their mark. Istanbul, originally founded as Byzantium, grew and prospered, so much so that the Roman Emperor Constantine I claimed it, renamed it as "Constantinopolis" and turned it into the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and centre of the Christian Orthodox church. It remained as such until it fell to Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453 when it became the Capital of the Ottoman Empire. After more than 400 years of strength the Ottoman empire went into gradual decline and finally saw its end at the First World War meaning Istanbul was no longer the politically important city it once was. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became Turkey's new leader, forming The Republic of Turkey in 1923, he re-located the nation's capital to Ankara but, as one of the oldest cities in the world, and being the cultural and economic centre of Turkey, Istanbul will always be the heart of the country.
Ruled by both the Christian and Islamic faiths for long periods the duality can now be seen in many of the attractions such as the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia and the great mosques such as the Blue Mosque and the Suleymaniye. Other historic landmarks include Topkapi Palace, The Hippodrome, Dolmabahce Palace, The Basillica Cistern, The Obelisk of Theodosius, The Valens Aquaduct...... the list is endless. As well as the fantastic historical sites there is some fantastic shopping and bargains to be had too and in the old city you can experience both history and shopping together at The Grand Bazaar. Similarly the Spice Market offers you the opportunity see amazing displays of local produce and dabble in a little haggling or for a thoroughly modern shopping experience there are numerous Malls and districts in the new city where you can purchase designer goods and international brands.
Istanbul is as diverse by night as it is by day. There is a huge selection of trendy bars and cafes you can while away the hours in. Istanbul boast one of the worlds richest cuisines. As a self sufficient country, with its agriculturally rich land, its not surprising that they can offer mouth watering dishes. An endless array of meze, stuffed aubergines, freshly caught fish, tender lamb, sweet baklava and kadayif is to name just a few of the dishes you may be offered. You can sample authentic Turkish cuisine in a cosy restaurant within the old city or while enjoying Istanbul’s skyline from a rooftop restaurant. There is the wonderful ambiance of the restaurants along the Bosphorus that serve rich Turkish food while you listen to live music. Jazz is very popular in the city and there are many jazz clubs, as well as numerous discos and theatres. Famous orchestras, choral ensembles, concerts and jazz legends often visit Istanbul and can be seen playing at many historic venues throughout the city. Whether your preference is the atmosphere and ambience of the 'Old' city or the hustle and bustle of the 'New' city Istanbul truly caters for all tastes.
Charming, mesmerising, extraordinarily amazing and unique, this city is truly one of a kind, you can't help but fall in love with it and you will be begging for more.
Taksim, Sultanahmet, Besiktas, Laleli, Ortakoy.
Main Tourist Attractions:
Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Hippadrome, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Selimiye Mosque, The Cisterns, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market.
Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen Airport(SAW)
Istanbul Ataturk Airport 30mins, and Sabiha Gokcen Airport is 50mins from the city centre.