Istanbul, previously known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is where East meets West. Situated on both sides of the narrow strait Bosporus, Istanbul is a connector between Europe and Asia.
Turkey’s most populated and culturally rich city has been profoundly shaped by history. Imperialistic armies, a revolving door of rulers (including Greeks, Romans and Venetians) and its strategic positioning on the Silk Road led Istanbul, though centuries, to become the diverse and incomparable city it is today.
Visitors will discover striking domed monuments, Byzantine architecture and a natural beauty. The Hagia Sophia is called the 8th wonder of the world, and the Blue Mosque also demands attention. Shop at the sprawling Grand Bazaar, walk the Topkapi Palace Museum, take a boat tour on the Bosporus, and take in a wondrous view of the city on Çamlica Hill.
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Traffic is extremely congested in Istanbul, so visitors may want to consider the vapur (ferry) to go back and forth between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. The city's growing metro train system has expanded in recent years and is another great alternative.
THE BLUE MOSQUE
This Ottoman-era mosque with minarets and blue tiles is a major Istanbul tourist draw.
This eye-catching, domed structure recently became a functioning mosque (it was previously a museum), and epitomizes Byzantine architecture.
One of the world's oldest covered markets has over 4,000 merchants and draws hundreds of thousands of daily visitors. Grand, indeed!