Istanbul City Guide
Istanbul is situated on the Bosphorus, the strait that connects the Sea of Marmara to the south with the Black Sea in the north. Istanbul is the link between Europe and Asia and this strategic location has been involved in many struggles over the centuries. It’s gone by many names over the centuries, including Byzantium and Constantinople, having been part of or even capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires in the past. The city was even once the capital of Islam.
The varied political and religious past is still recognizable all around the city, especially in architecture. The monumental Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), for example, was once a Christian cathedral, before later becoming a mosque. Visit the nearby Topkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı), Hippodrome (Hipodrom) and the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), and also save some liras to buy souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi). From the top of the 14th Century Galata Tower (Galata Tower) you have a fantastic view of all these buildings, while miniature versions are on display in Miniatürk. When it all gets a bit much, cool off in the underground Basilica Cistern.
Cross the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn over to visit Taksim Square. Here in the new city you can enjoy the modern skyscrapers, nightclubs and shopping and mingle with the young and hip, and the businessmen who populate the streets.
Istanbul houses than 13 million people and it is the most populous city in Europe. It's not hard to see why the city has such great appeal. The fusion of East and West makes it rich in the culture, architecture, art and cuisine. It is a truly unique city.