“There, God and human, nature and art are together, they have created such perfect place that it is valuable to see.” Lamartine’s famous poetic line reveals his love for Istanbul, describing the embracing of two continents, with one arm reaching out to Asia and the other to Europe.

Istanbul, once known as the capital of capital cities, has many unique features. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and the only one to have been a capital during two consecutive empires – Christian and Islamic. Once capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul still remains the commercial, historical and cultural pulse of Turkey, and its beauty lies in its ability to embrace its contradictions. Ancient and modern, religious and secular, Asia and Europe, mystical and earthly all co-exist here.

Its variety is one of Istanbul’s greatest attractions: The ancient mosques, palaces, museums and bazaars reflect its diverse history. The thriving shopping area of Taksim buzzes with life and entertainment. And the serene beauty of the Bosphorus, Princes Islands and parks bring a touch of peace to the otherwise chaotic metropolis.

Places to visit

GRAND COVERED BAZAAR

Grand Covered Bazaar, most attractive shopping center and biggest “souk” in the world with nearly 4000 shops selling antiques, jewelry, gold, carpets, leatherware and souvenirs. Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar) has evolved into its present form over a period of 250 years, and its original function, which was determined by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, was to generate income for the upkeep of Hagia Sophia

BLUE MOSQUE

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii in Turkish ) is definitely one of the places you have to see, regardless of how much time you have in the city. With its six minarets dominating the İstanbul skyline, this is one iconic structure that’s hard to miss. The inside of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque covered with Iznik tiles reveals why it is also called the “Blue Mosque”! Make sure to spend enough time to really take in the beauty and immensity of the place – and all those intricate blue tiles adorning the interior.

HAGIA SOPHIA

Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest marvels of architecture, constructed as a basilica in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian, was transformed to a mosque in the year 1453 under Sultan Mehmed II. Just a stone’s throw from the Blue Mosque, it pairs nicely with the latter to dominate the skyline of old İstanbul.  The multicolored marble and mosaics of Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque ‘s walls extend right up to the towering main vault, which, when first constructed, was the biggest, tallest, and most impressive dome in the Byzantine Empire.

ANCIENT HIPPODROME

Ancient Hippodrome, center of sportive events (chariot races, athletics) and political activities of the old city. Serpentine Column, Obelisk of Theodosius, German Fountain of Wilhelm II are the monuments decorating the Hippodrome

BOSPHORUS CRUISE

Bosphorus cruise, through the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia, with a possibility to take photographs of marble palaces, ancient wooden villas of Ottoman architecture besides modern residentials and luxurious apartments.

TOPKAPI PALACE

Topkapı Palace was the residence of Ottoman sultans for 400 years and now a UNESCO world heritage site as the best example of palaces. Sacred Islamic relic of prophet Mohammed, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, large collections of porcelains, robes, weapons, armors, shields, Ottoman miniatures, imperial treasures and jewelry are exhibited at the palace.

Activities

WHIRLING DERVISH SHOW

Watch the mystical ritual of the Mevlevi Order, whose whirling dance has been declared a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity. The Sema ceremony is a journey through man’s spiritual ascent to “perfection” through mind and love—a truly unmissable and astonishing experience of music and moves.

TURKISH BATH EXPERIENCE

The Turkish Bath is a traditional type of public bathing which is essentially based on the ancient Roman bathing culture and the principles of the steam bath. Combining this with the traditional Turkish bath massage (“Turkish scrub”), it became an integral part of Turkish culture as well as an important part of social life.

HELICOPTER TOUR

Istanbul helicopter tour is a very unique experience. Discover the massive metropolis set on two different continents – Europe and Asia – Bosphorus Strait cutting the city like a knife and the horn shaped Haliç bay. (Golden Horn in English)

Unlike aerial photography or helicopter simulator, flying above a city is the best way to get to know it. And since Istanbul can sometimes be very complicated from the ground, helicopter tour is a great opportunity to travel Istanbul and see the city from above.

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