Want to visit one of Europe’s most exciting cities? Then come to Istanbul, where you’ll find a unique blend of history and modernity at the crossroads of eastern and western culture.
The Ottoman Empire spanned much of the Middle East, Europe and Africa, and the Ottoman capital, Istanbul, was famous for being the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Today, Istanbul still is home to a growing number of foreigners.
It is a tourist mecca, where there are endless choices for sightseeing, shopping, eating and drinking, and entertainment. Istanbul’s many attractions can be found all over the city, such as the Princes Islands, Taksim or the many little places long the Bosphorus on the Asian side. But by far the one that attracts the most visitors is the old city, Sultanahmet. This area is home to many of Istanbul’s most significant sights including the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Aya Sofia, the Byzantine Hippodrome and the Istanbul Archeological Museum.

Mosques, Churches and Synagogues

Being the centre of the Islamic world for centuries, Istanbul is home to some of the world’s most spectacular mosques, including the Blue Mosque, Sulimaniye Mosque, and the Eminönü Mosque in Sultanahmet. However there are many smaller but equally beautiful mosques in various locations around the city such as Ortakoy and Uskudar.
The most famous church in the city, St. Antoine Cathedral, is located on Istiklal Street in Taksim, but there is also the Virgin Mary Assyrian Church, and, of course the famous Hagia Sofia, which now operates as a museum. The most famous synagogue is Neve Shalom in Karakoy.


It’s impossible to avoid shopping in Istanbul. From Ottoman trinkets and antiques to textiles, jewellery and carpets, you’re sure to find everything you need. Although modern shopping centres such as Cevahir and Trump Towers in Mecidiyekoy dominate the shopping scene, the wonderful Grande Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar in Eminonu are places you must visit.


Istanbul has too many museums to mention, but the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, the Calligraphy Museum, Yerebatan Cistern and Istanbul Modern are the most important.


A visit to Istanbul isn’t complete without a visit to Topkapi Palace, where you can travel back in time to Istanbul’s Ottoman heritage. Dolmabahce Palace is from a different era and features a more European design.

Eating, Drinking and Dancing

The Turkish love affair with food means that you’ll always find something to eat, any time of the day. Turkish cuisine is popular around the world and ranges from cheap lunchtime snacks to meals fit for a sultan. And there are plenty of options for vegetarians. Alcohol and bars are readily available from raucous taverns with live gypsy music to the famous Bosphorus nightclubs with their spectacular views.

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