Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents.
In its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922).
Istanbul is adorned by the masterpieces of Turkish art, the great mosques of the Sultans that crown the hills. The city presents an exquisite, majestic and serene silhouette from all directions. The Golden Horn, which is a very secure natural harbor, has played a significant role in the development of the city. The historic city of Istanbul is situated on a peninsula flanked on three sides by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.
Even if you spend only a short time in Istanbul, you can see much of this great heritage. Although renowned for its mystery and history, Istanbul is also a rapidly modernizing country with a prime location; one foot in Europe and one in the Middle East. Thus Istanbul retains its fascinating differences, and its contradictions: mosques coexist with churches, and remnants of the Roman Empire still stand alongside ancient Hittite and Neolithic sites.
While in Istanbul, you may want to discover the Grand Bazaarwhich is a teeming indoor maze of jewelry, carpets, leather, textiles, and antiques that dates back 500 years. Get oriented by finding the Old Bedestan, the original marketplace, in the center of the bazaar.
Other beautiful sites which should not be missed are the Blue Mosquewith its magnificent interior decorations of blue Iznik tiles and the Topkapi Palace which was the great palace of the Ottoman Sultans. The palace is a collection of buildings arranged around a series of courtyards and has incredible collections of jewels, china, and pieces of Ottoman and Islamic artwork.