Istanbul is the only city in the world to rest on two continents. Straddling both Asia and Europe, the city is divided by the Bosphorus Strait. Previously known as Constantinople and Byzantium, it is Turkey’s most populated city and the country’s economic center. Istanbul has been the capital city for Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Inhabited for more than 8,000 years, today it is home to more than 15 million people. It is a city where East and West literally meet. It is also a place of contrasts: ancient and modern, conservative and progressive, past and present.
Sultanahmet, also called the Old City, is home to many popular tourist attractions and historic monuments including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Palace. The area is a peninsula bordered by the the Golden Horn to the north, the Marmara Sea to the south, the Bosphorus Strait to the east and the ancient city walls to the west.
Arasta Bazaar is situated in the southern shadow of Istanbul’s world famous Blue Mosque. The market sits above what was once the Byzantine Great Palace of Constantinople.
Basilica Cistern is the largest of the hundreds of ancient cisterns that lie beneath Istanbul. Commissioned by Justinian and built in 532, it is largest surviving Byzantine cistern in the city.
The Blue Mosque was built between 1609-1616 and features six slender minarets. The mosque draws its name from the thousands of blue tiles lining the interior.
Four Season Hotel in Sultanahmet was formerly a prison. Many of the elements from the original structure remain including the original wooden doors and marble pillars.
Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century. Commissioned Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it is generally considered the most important example of Byzantine architecture.
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was an arena for chariot racing during the Byzantine Empire. It was constructed in 203 AD, during the reign of the emperor Septimius Severus.
Horhor Flea Market (Horhor Bit Pazarı) is located in the Fatih District. This remote six story flea market is filled with more than 200 antique shops.
Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops, it attracts more than 250,000 visitors daily.
The Spice Market is one of the largest bazaars in Istanbul. Originally funded by taxes on imports from Egypt, the market’s Turkish name is Mısır Çarşısı (Egyptian Market).
Topkapı Palace is a large museum located in Istanbul, Turkey. For more than 400 years, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters for the Ottoman Sultans.
Çukurcuma is a neighborhood located in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district. The area is a well-known destination for vintage and antique aficionados. Çukurcuma is also home to Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence. Orhan Pamuk conceived of his novel (of the same name) and museum consecutively. While writing his novel, Pamuk scoured Çukurcuma seeking mid-20th-century mementos. The museum is a representation of the things used, seen, collected and dreamed of by his characters. All of the items are meticulously arranged in boxes and display cabinets.
The Bosphorus Strait is a narrow, natural strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Additionally, the Bosphorus Strait forms part of the continental divide between Europe and Asia.
Marmara Sea is an inland sea that partially separates the Asian and European parts of Turkey. The Marmara was formed as a result of crustal movements that occurred about 2.5 million years ago.
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