Boasting a storied history that dates back to 7 BC, this modern and culturally rich city is unlike any other in the world. Explore the famous Grand Bazaar, Hidiv Kasri, Topkapi Palace and more - all while staying at one of our incomparable Best Western Istanbul hotels.
Istanbul is a city where East meets West. Being the only city in the world that is situated on two continents, it has a rich history that stretches from 7 BC to Roman and Ottoman Empires. Istanbul sits in the path of a thoroughfare that has been a passage for many civilizations. The former capital of three successive empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, Istanbul today honors and preserves the legacy of its past while looking forward to a modern future.
Haghia Sophia Mosque Gardens
Istanbul is divided into little pockets of different neighborhoods but the real dividers are the European and Asian side which the Bosphorus separate the peninsula between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. Halic Bay (Golden Horn), a horn-shaped bay located on the European side of Istanbul, is one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the world.
Istanbul whose population is about 12 million, is a major port and trade center. It is the most important city in Turkey, possessing a number of universities, high schools, libraries and cultural centers. Istanbul is a great place to visit. Nowhere else will you find such a divergence of cultures and such contrasts between the ancient and the modern.
Topkapi Palace - Built in 1459, the Topkapi Palace was the official and primary residence of the Ottoman Sutlans for 400 years of their 600-year reign. The palace is a complex of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings and at the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people. The complex has been expanded over the centuries, with many renovations such as after the 1509 earthquake and 1665 fire. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The complex is guarded by officials of the ministry as well as armed guards of the Turkish military.
Hagia Sophia - Hagia Sophia is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and to have "changed the history of architecture." The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 A.D. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey.
Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) - The Sultanahmet Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) was built between 1609 and 1617 and is also known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles used to decorate the walls of its interior. The construction was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I, who was not only driven by a desire to leave behind an imperial namesake mosque, but was also determined to build a monument to rival the Ayasofya. There are several legends associated with the construction of the six minarets. The most popular states that the sultan's desire for gold minarets -- altin in Turkish -- was understood as alti, or six. The misunderstanding led to the six minarets which challenged the preeminence of the mosque in Mecca, which at the time also had six minarets. The ensuing scandal, both in and out of Istanbul, resulted in the sultan's paying for the construction of a seventh minaret at the Kaa'ba in Mecca.
Hidiv Kasri - Hidiv Kasri is a famous landmark of Istanbul, with its unusual main tower jutting above the treeline around Cubuklu. A beautifully preserved remnant of Ottoman history and formerly the residence of the Egyptian Governor during Ottoman times, it is now open to the public, and offers a splendid restaurant for its visitors. It's a popular place for Sunday brunch.
Amedros - Dine on the fine European and Ottoman cuisine outdoors on during the summer or by the fire in the winter. This restaurant's house special is Testi Kebabi: succulent baby lamb roasted with garden fresh vegetables in a sealed earthenware pot which is cracked open right at your table. The sensational aroma emanating from the first Testi Kebabi order of the evening ensures that orders keep coming all night long.
Feriye - Above the shores of the Bosphorus Strait, this restaurant offers rare examples of classical Ottoman architecture in what was once a 19th century police station. The co-owner and celebrity chef, Vedat Basaran, readily admits to an indecent obsession with Ottoman cooking. He's even taken pains to learn Arabic script so he can read the original Arabian recipes. The mouth-watering result is an original, innovative menu filled with dishes that appear to be traditional Turkish fare with a modern twist.
Balikçi Sabahattin - This local favorite is located only only five minutes from Sultanahmet on a cute out of the way cobbled lane in what is mostly a residential area. Along with a wonderful selection of hot and cold appetizers and salads, this restaurant offers a selection of fresh seafood and local fare.
Crystal - Located at the Crystal Hotel, this club is on par with Europe's top night clubs with a consistent celebrity clientel, tight door and a DJ line-up that rivals no other.
Samdan - For 30 years this club has been the favorite of Istanbul. It is always popular and crowded with a restaurant on the first floor and the club on the second.
Grand Bazaar - This Ottoman-era market is the largest covered market in the world. The 58 streets, 1,200+ shops are home to thousands of vendors that serve between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors a day. Within the dozens of alleys you will find gorgeous Turkish carpets, traditional handicrafts, historical restaurants, glazed tiles, brassware, copperware, pottery, leather apparel, souvenirs, hookah pipes and t-shirts.
Spice Bazaar - People have been trading spices on Istanbul's waterfront for centuries in this historical market since the 17th century. Here you can find thousands of spices from all over the world as well as herbs and remedies for every imaginative ailment.
Istanbul, Turkey is a beautiful and historic city that features attractions that are both historically significant and entertaining. The Istanbul area features great shopping, wonderful dining, and exciting night spots that will please any traveler.
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