“If the World were a single state, Istanbul would have been its capital.”
İstanbul, previously called Constantinople, is one of the world’s greatest cities with its thousands of years of history. Sitting at the crosroads of Europe and Asia, two continents unite in İstanbul which has become home to empires for centuries. Yet neither words nor any amount of reading and listening are sufficient to truly describe and become familiar with the city.
Throughout its long history, many desired to conquer this beautiful city. The desire to possess the city cannot be explained only by its strategic position or unsurpassed beauty; it has a different attraction, a mystical magnetism that drew states, empires and great conquerors towards it.
Only when you walk along its historic streets, when you see with your own eyes the architectural masterpieces of Byzantine and Ottoman Empires in their original setting, when you enjoy the panoramic vistas of its unique location, and when you start to explore its mystical beauties- only then will you begin to discover, and to fall in love with Istanbul.
HAGIA SOPHIA MUSEUM
The palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments and is a major tourist attraction today, containing the most holy relics of the Muslim world such as the prophet Muhammed’s cloak and sword. A UNESCO World Heritage Site as “the best example[s] of ensembles of palaces of the Ottoman period.”
The cistern was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in A.D. 542 on the other side of the Hippodrome to meet the Great Palace water requirements. Nowadays, it is a museum and an exhibition hall, as well as hosting concerts and poetry readings.
Hagia Eirene ranks as the first church built in İstanbul. It reputedly stands on the site of a pre-Christian temple. As for today, it is a concert hall located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace. It is open as a museum every day except Monday but requires special permission for admission.
The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in İstanbul.
Built in the 15th century, the huge bazaar is located in the middle of İstanbul’s historical center with its streets lying beneath high domes. This is the marketplace of the tale of a thousand and one nights, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 covered streets and over 1,200 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.
İSTANBUL ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
The site of the museums actually belonged to the Topkapı Palace outer gardens. Since the imperial decree protecting cultural goods in the Ottoman empire was enforced, many governors from the different provinces would send in found artefacts to the capital city. In that way the museum was able to amass a great collection. Upon its 100th anniversary in 1991, the Museum received the European Council Museum Award.
The Ottoman imperial palace during the 19th century. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, resided there late in his life. The 45,000sqm palace cost a mere five million Ottoman gold pounds, the equivalent of 35 tones of gold— 14 tones of which went into the decoration alone.