Lets’talk About Istanbul (in Sum)
The City of Two Continents
The wonders of Istanbul! A city that takes your breath away. A unique blend of ancient and modern. A heritage that goes back thousands of years – architecture, religions, cultures and peoples all mixed to become what is today one of the most vibrant and exciting cities of the world!
Istanbul is the only city to embrace two continents – Europe and Asia – separated by the beautiful Bosphorus Strait and then reconnected by two great bridges – The Bosphorus and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. The Bosphorus runs through to the Black Sea to the north and the Sea of Marmara to the south through to the Dardenelles and finally to the Aegean Sea. At the joining point is the beating heart of Turkey – Istanbul.
Founded over 3000 years ago, for centuries it was known as Byzantium. Upon the rule of Constantine the Great in 330AD it was made the Eastern Capital of the Roman Empire and it became Constantinople. The use of this name continued as Konstininnya during Ottoman rule up until the 19th Century. It was commonly called Istanbul in the west, and Stamboul by Turks which referred mainly to the old walled City. In the 1930’s it officially became Istanbul. It is truly the centre of two continents – Asia and Europe, East and West.
What to See and Do in istanbul city
The ancient peninsula was surrounded by land and sea walls on all sides. With its 123 towers and 36 gates the walls were built over the centuries from 3CAD to 4CAD to the protect Istanbul from various invaders.
They were bested only twice – in 1203 by the 4th Crusaders and then when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The remains of the walls are still visible today.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest monuments of Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia in the old city of Sultanahmet. Rebuilt by Justinian and Theodora in the 5th Century (replacing two previous wooden structures) it was first known as The Church of the Holy Wisdom (Justinian’s words as he opened its doors for the first time “Oh Soloman, I have surpassed thee”).
It remained a great Christian basilica until after Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered the city. It then became a Mosque with 4 minarets being added, and was finally declared a Museum in 1934 my the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk.
Since that time its doors have been opened to all people of the world no matter what creed or nationality.
Opposite the Hagia Sophia stands the other best known monument in Istanbul – The Blue Mosque, constructed between 1609 and 1616 under the orders of Sultan Ahmet to the Architect Mehmed Aga under his master, the prolific Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.
These two monuments stand opposite each other, reminding visitors of the glorious and tumultuous past of Istanbul. Nearby is Topkapi Palace, and within its gardens the Archeological Museum. And don’t forget the Basilica Cistern!
Cross the Galatala Bridge and catch a glimpse of the new and old Istanbul in one birds eye view! – the ancient peninsula. Bosphorus Bridge, Sulimaniye Mosque and the newly constructed Metro Bridge.
Take a trip to Kadikoy on the Asian side, or the Princes Islands in the Sea of Marmara or take a bus to Pierri Loti Café for a cay and a look down the Golden Horn.
Take the tram to Taksim Square, and walk down Istiklel Street to the Beyoglu district to see Galatala Tower and the funky shops. Buskers line the street at night and shops as open until late. Galleries and cafes abound.
No visit to Istanbul is complete without a cruise on the Bosphorus, where you can view palaces, summer houses and Rumeli Fortress on it shores.
Museums abound: Archeological Museum, Pera Palace, Istanbul Modern, Islamic Museum of Arts and Crafts, Kariye Museum are just a few.
Take a trip to the Asian side – the public ferry over the Kadikoy, or the new Marmaray Tunnel to Uskudar to see a different perspective of Istanbul!
Don’t leave Istanbul without experiencing a Turkish Bath or Hamam – have the luxury or a local experience depending on your budget – and come out glowing!
So many things to see,and do so make sure you allow plenty of time – and expect the unexpected, the hidden gems that will surprise and delight you!
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