Istanbul is a special place where East meets West, and European and Asian cultures collide. You can view examples of this all over the city, from the spicy aromas emanating from the Grand Bazaar to the magnificent mosques that surround Sultanahmet to shopping in some of the West's most chic shops in Beyoglu. Crossing the difference is enlightening when the collision between Western and Eastern cultures is unveiled all at once.
The city has grown significantly over its turbulent existence, and its name has changed three times: from Byzantium to Constantinople to Istanbul. Istanbul is situated on the Bosporus Strait, which separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Black Sea. The city has been conquered by great civilisations from both the East and the West due to its position on the border of Asia and Europe. The city has been inhabited by Persians, Byzantines, Romans, and Ottomans throughout its history. As a result, the city has had numerous notable kings, including the Roman Christian emperor Constantine and the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent. They ruled from 1520 to 1566 and has the most influence on the city's current state.
Suleiman oversaw the design of some of the city's most beautiful buildings. Every visitor is struck by the Topkapi Palace, particularly when entering through the towering Imperial gate beside Hagia Sophia. A stroll around the palace, which runs over an overlooking plateau, provides stunning views of the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara. Seraglio point, at the end of the fourth court, has the best view of the scenery, and believe me when I say you would not regret queuing until you have seen the Mecidiye Pavillion. Don't miss the Harem's lavish underground quarters, where the Sultan's wives and concubines used to live. The magnificent Imperial Treasury is also worth a visit. The inscriptions on a series of stone tablets spaced across the first court's inner wall are worth a look whether you are a lover of stonework or just a fan of Indiana Jones.
The magnificent Sultanahmet Mosque is reached through the extensive gardens just outside of Topkapi. Its majestic minarets and domes are a sight to behold. Those who remove their shoes and enter the mosque's shaded inner chamber would have a humbling and relaxing experience. Since the mosque is a place of worship, treat it with reverence and adhere to the posted prayer times. When you walk through the mosque's interior, you will find that all of the tiles are blue, which is why it's known as the blue mosque.
The Hagia Sophia is a densely tiled marvel across the square that any tourist can see. This structure has served as a synagogue, a mosque, and now a museum. Byzantine emperor Justinian built the system between 532 and 537, almost 1500 years ago. It has one of the world's biggest domes, so I think it is a good idea to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds during the midday hours.
For those of your shopaholics out there, the Grand Bazaar is shopping heaven. This is a striking forerunner of the shopping centres we have today. Locals will want to sell you all from pans to novelty cigarette lighters to intricately woven kilims in Istanbul. On the other hand, the Grand Bazaar has a more opulent shopping atmosphere and is a testament to the city's long trade past.
Past the university is the Suleymaniye mosque. In 1557, the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan constructed this. Surprisingly, the mosque has over 200 windows, and the interior space is one of the most spectacular of Istanbul's vast collection of mosques.
A thriving street market, as well as teams of fishermen, can be found along the Galata Bridge. The fishermen are fighting for room around the upper tier as they attempt to catch some of the Golden Horn's plentiful fish stocks. The lower level is lined with cafes, pubs, and seafood restaurants. As these businesses operate, the area remains tranquil and perfect for peacefully watching the ferries pass along the beaches.
A visit to the imposing Galata castle built in the 14th century should be included in the penultimate step of your journey to Istanbul. You can reach the summit through stone stairs and an elevator, where you can admire the sun setting over the minarets and take in the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. Both visitors are in for a fun ride. Istanbul is accessible throughout the year, but it is especially hot in the summer. The key attractions are safer and easier to enjoy early in the day, as they are in most countries. You can walk to almost all the sights, but you'll need to get in shape because the city is very hilly.
I have been lucky enough to travel to many places and cities worldwide, and Istanbul is definitely in my top 5 cities to travel to worldwide. Apply for a turkey visa and book economy flights and get information on Europe Vacations before leaving.