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Istanbul attractions

Istanbul travel information

Istanbul hotels

An instant whirl of clashing colours and a cacophony of noises and smells, your senses may be overwhelmed when you first encounter Istanbul. It's an incredibly vibrant city, as noted for its energetic modern day merchants as it is for its amazing historical sights.

And the historical sights and Istanbul attractions are amazing. Visit the Topkapi Palace to see where the ornate corridors where the sultans and their harems walked on bejewelled slippers. The Blue Mosque has beautiful glass work, and the Haghia Sophia is a triumph of Byzantine architecture.

Istanbul travel

Turkey is a Muslim country, but also secular. This is a happy situation, as it means you can sample local beer and raki on a foray into the hectic and hedonistic Istanbul nightlife. Don't plan to begin your day Istanbul tours too early!

Or have a glass of wine with your mezze or grilled fish. Istanbul is noted both for the quality of its restaurants and its street food – stop for a kebab or a fish sandwich whenever you feel hungry.

Don't forget to go shopping, either. Anything and everything is for sale in the Grand Bazaar, the most famous shopping arena in Turkey. If you'd prefer to buy your leather and silver goods and Turkish delight in air-conditioned luxury, then head for one of the swish shopping malls.

The Istanbul eguide gives you all the essential information, and more, about this unique city where East meets West.

No other city in the world can claim to span two continents like Istanbul does, so whilst you can choose from the benefits of high-class Istanbul hotels and restaurants you can also experience the history and culture of this country which helped to shape both Europe and Asia.

The Istanbul eguide gives you all the facts about the numerous Istanbul attractions, a history of the city, details of entertainment, and advice on how best to travel here and around Istanbul and Holidays in Turkey.

Istanbul is situated in the north west of Turkey and is the country's largest city, and the 4th largest city in the world, with a population of over 11 million people, increasing rapidly year on year. Istanbul is the financial and cultural centre of Turkey, but is not the capital city - a privilege which falls to Ankara.

Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus Strait, which makes for an enchanting setting. On the western shore of the Bosphorus is Europe whilst on the eastern shore is Asia . A water taxi can be taken to travel across the Bosphorus (Strait of Istanbul). The two sides are linked by two bridges and numerous ferries, though travelling between the two you would hardly be aware that you had just passed into a different continent!

Istanbul is further divided by the Golden Horn, an estuary on the European side forming the northern boundary of the Sultanahmet Peninsula where the old city of Istanbul is situated. It is here that you'll find most of the popular tourist sites, such as the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya and Topkapi Palace.

Istanbul travel

Istanbul 's old city has one of the most recognisable skylines in the world, set against the hills which surround the city and with the Bosphorus in the foreground, the huge domes and tall minarets of Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque dominate the skyline and appear almost fairy-tale like and mystical at sunset in particular.

Evidence has been found of a significant human settlement on the site of Istanbul dating back as early as 6500BC, the Copper Age, though other findings show that there were inhabitants here as early as the Paleolithic Age.

The Greeks first arrived here in 685BC, colonising the Anatolian side in the area now known as Kadiköy, and by 667BC they had also colonised the European side of the Bosphorus, which they called Byzantium. The city was besieged by the Romans in 196AD, and was significantly damaged, though was quickly rebuilt again to the wealthy city it was before. Then in 324, Emperor Constantine became interested in the city and six years later it was proclaimed the new capital of the Roman Empire and renamed Constantinople in his honour.

When the Roman Empire was split in two following the death of Theodosius I in 395, Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire which was predominantly Greek speaking and Greek Orthodox Christianity, whilst Rome was the centre of the Latin-speaking Western Empire. It was during this following period in which many of the city's churches, including Aya Sofya, were built.

After 800 years of prosperity the Byzantine Empire began to collapse in the centuries leading up to the 1200's, and in the 1300's the Ottoman Turks took advantage of the weakened empire, eventually capturing Constantinople in 1453, proclaiming it the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Sultan encouraged all of the citizens back who had fled the city, and also invited people of all the three major religions, Muslim, Christians and Jews in an attempt to create a very cosmopolitan society. He also ordered the building of many lavish buildings and monuments around the city, including Topkapi Palace.

Constantinople remained the capital of the Ottoman Empire right into the 1900's when the Ottoman Empire fell. In 1923 the Republic of Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the capital city was moved to Ankara. Constantinople was renamed Istanbul in 1453, though it wasn't until 1923 that this name was adopted by the rest of the world too.

Despite missing out on being the new Turkish capital city, Istanbul still thrived, helped by a major period of rejuvenation in the 1950's and a huge population influx which started in the 1970's and continues to this day.



Experiencing the holidays in Turkey are unlike any other in the world, rich in culture and fun.


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