ISTANBUL

ISTANBUL

Istanbul is a major city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. Its Old City reflects cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. In the Sultanahmet district, the open-air, Roman-era Hippodrome was for centuries the site of chariot races, and Egyptian obelisks also remain. The iconic Byzantine Hagia Sophia features a soaring 6th-century dome and rare Christian mosaics.



Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots not only in Turkey but also in the world. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist-oriented industries in the city, catering to both vacationers and visiting professionals. Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, has a number of major attractions derived from its historical status as capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. These include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the "Blue Mosque"), the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Tower, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, and the Pera Palace Hotel. Istanbul has also recently become one of the biggest shopping centers of the European region by hosting malls and shopping centers, such as Metrocity, Akmerkez and Cevahir Mall, which is the biggest mall in Europe and seventh largest shopping center in the world. Other attractions include sporting events, museums, and cultural events.



BY AIR

The easiest and the most modern gateway to Istanbul is Ataturk Airport international terminal where most visitors land first. It is located in Yesilkoy, on the European side of Istanbul and just 28 kilometres to the city centre (Sirkeci). The second and less popular airport of Istanbul is Sabiha Gokcen Airport at Kurtkoy on the Asian side of the city. Prices for food and drink at Istanbul airports tend to be high. You can travel between Istanbul's airports and the city centre by airport bus, city bus, taxi, Metro and tram, shuttle van or private transfer.



BY TRAIN

Also Istanbul has two railway stations, Sirkeci Train Station on the European side and Haydarpasa Train Station on the Asian side. Sirkeci train station is a gateway to train travels to Europe. Travelling in Istanbul is a real adventure. Istanbul is a fairly safe city, even for tourists, but as with any city, a visitor would do best to avoid unpopulated areas at night.

Tourist Attractions

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, "Holy Wisdom"; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Turkish: Ayasofya) was a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and is now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its construction in 537 AD, and until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople,[1] except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture". It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Mosque is a historic mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. A popular tourist site, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque continues to function as a mosque today; men still kneel in prayer on the mosque's lush red carpet after the call to prayer. The Blue Mosque, as it is popularly known, was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed's tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, another popular tourist site.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.[4] In 2014, it was listed No.1 among world's most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazar at Istanbul is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world. The Grand Bazaar is located inside the Walled city of Istanbul, in the district of Fatih and in the neighbourhood (mahalle) bearing the same name (Kapalıçarşı). It stretches roughly from west to east between the mosques of Beyazit and of Nuruosmaniye. The Bazaar can easily be reached from Sultanahmet and Sirkeci by trams (Beyazıt-Kapalıçarşı stop).

Maiden's Tower

The Maiden's Tower (Turkish: Kız Kulesi), also known as Leander's Tower (Tower of Leandros) since the medieval Byzantine period, is a tower lying on a small islet located at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait 200 m (220 yd) from the coast of Üsküdar in Istanbul, Turkey. The tower, often named Leander's Tower in reference to the legend of Hero and Leander (which took place in the Dardanelles strait, also known as the Hellespont in antiquity), was destroyed during the earthquake of 1509, and burned in 1721. Since then it was used as a lighthouse, and the surrounding walls were repaired in 1731 and 1734, until in 1763 it was erected using stone.

Taksim Square

Taksim Square situated in Beyoğlu in the European part of Istanbul, Turkey, is a major tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, with the central station of the Istanbul Metro network. Taksim Square is also the location of the Monument of the Republic (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Anıtı) which was crafted by Pietro Canonica and inaugurated in 1928. The monument commemorates the 5th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, following the Turkish War of Independence. The word Taksim means "division" or "distribution". The Taksim square was originally the point where the main water lines from the north of Istanbul were collected and branched off to other parts of the city (hence the name.) This use for the area was established by Sultan Mahmud I. The square takes its name from the Ottoman era stone reservoir which is located in this area. Additionally, the word "Taksim" can refer to a special improvisational musical form in Turkish classical music that is guided by the Makam system. Another significant building that once stood on the square was the 19th century Taksim Artillery Barracks (Taksim Kışlası, which later became the Taksim Stadium), but it was demolished in 1940 during the construction works of the Taksim Gezi Park.

Golden Horn

The Golden Horn (Turkish: Altın Boynuz; Ancient Greek: Χρυσόκερας, Chrysókeras; Latin: Sinus Ceratinus), also known by its modern Turkish name as Haliç, is a major urban waterway and the primary inlet of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey. This prominent body of water is a horn-shaped estuary that joins Bosphorus Strait at the immediate point where the strait meets the Sea of Marmara, thus forming a narrow, isolated peninsula, the tip of which is "Old Istanbul" (ancient Byzantium and Constantinople), and the promontory of Sarayburnu, or Seraglio Point. The Golden Horn geographically separates the historic center of Istanbul from the rest of the city, and forms a natural, sheltered harbor that has historically protected Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and other maritime trade ships for thousands of years.

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum

The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum is a museum located in Sultanahmet Square in Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. Constructed in 1524, the building was formerly the palace of Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha, who was the second grand vizier to Suleiman the Magnificent, and was once thought to have been the husband of the Sultan's sister, Hatice Sultan. The collection includes notable examples of Islamic calligraphy, tiles, and rugs as well as ethnographic displays on various cultures in Turkey, particularly nomad groups. These displays recreate rooms or dwellings from different time periods and regions.

Bosphorus Bridge

The 15 July Martyrs Bridge or unofficially the Bosphorus Bridge (Turkish: Boğaziçi Köprüsü), also called the First Bridge (Turkish: Birinci Köprü), is one of the three suspension bridges spanning the Bosphorus strait (Turkish: Boğaziçi) in Istanbul, Turkey, thus connecting Europe and Asia (alongside Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge). The bridge extends between Ortaköy (in Europe) and Beylerbeyi (in Asia). Upon its completion in 1973, the Bosphorus Bridge had the fourth-longest suspension bridge span in the world, and the longest outside the United States (only the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge and Mackinac Bridge had a longer span in 1973).[3][4] The Bosphorus Bridge remained the longest suspension bridge in Europe until the completion of the Humber Bridge in 1981, and the longest suspension bridge in Asia until the completion of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (Second Bosphorus Bridge) in 1988 (which was surpassed by the Minami Bisan-Seto Bridge in 1989). Currently, the Bosphorus Bridge has the 25th-longest suspension bridge span in the world.