Istanbul: 2500 years-old capital of civilization
Istanbul is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural, and historic center.
Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits on two continents: Europe and Asia.
The city lies on both sides of the Bosporus Channel and the Sea of Marmara, which connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
On the European side of the Bosporus, old Istanbul developed on the western side of the narrow Golden Horn, a channel about 6 kilometres in length that empties into the Bosporus.
The imperial city of constantinople was for nearly a thousand years the last remaining outpost of the Roman Empire.
The capital of the eastern Roman Empire, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman army, under the command Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II on 29th May 1453.
With this conquest the Ottomans began an empire, which was to be one of the most powerful empires. The eastern Roman Empire fell and was finished. After the conquest of Constantinople, 21 year old Ottoman Sultan II.Mehmed had the title "the Conqueror" added to his name.
Despite his young age, Sultan Mehmed II, started to prepare to lay siege on Istanbul. He wanted to be the commander as Prophet Muhammed had mentioned the conqueror of constantinople; "One day, Constantinople will be conquered. How wonderful and blessed are the commander of its conquest and his soldiers!". First he took precautions with strategic tactics both inside and outside of the state. After this, he moved to conquer Constantinople.
Istanbul is a city where you can have a European experience alongside Islamic grace. Spires and domes of mosques, medival architecture dominate the skyline. At dawn, you can see people going to mosques for the first prayer as you hear the call of muezzin rebound from the ancient minarets.
Meanwhile, you see clubbers making their way home from the nightclubs and bars while their neighbors kneeling on the prayer rug. Istanbul has a very unique ability to make so many diverse things ryhme together.
Undoubtedly, no words can describe both the number and historical importance of Istanbul's historical architecture. Every step of the historic peninsula is full of monuments, such great works of art as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultan Ahmet and Bue Mosque are among the first must-see sites for every tourist.
Hagia Sophia, built in the 4th century and used as a religious and political center in the Roman Empire period, is today a museum and is considered one of the biggest and most sacred Christian monuments in the world.
Empires from three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa - were once reined from Topkapi Palace, which offers visitors the opportunity to personally experience and touch the Ottoman Empire in its full glory.
After the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453, construction of Topkapi Palace was started in the year 1460 and completed in 1478 . The palace was built upon a 700,000 square meter area on an eastern Roman Acropolis located on the Istanbul peninsula between the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Topkapi Palace, was the administrative, educational and art center of the empire for nearly four hundred years after Mehmed the Conqueror until Sultan Abdulmecid who was the thirty-first sultan. Although the palace was abandoned by the Ottoman Dynasty with its move to Dolmabahçe Palace in the middle of the 19th century, Topkapi Palace always protected its importance.
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque is known as an ultimate example of Ottoman architecture, whose courts are filled with the remnants of this empire. Additional sites that should be visited are the Dolmabahçe Palace and the archaeological museum.
The foundation of the Grand Bazaar was laid in 1461. It is one of the unique centers in Istanbul to be visited with 60 narrow streets in its 37,700 square meter giant like labyrinth, and more than 3600 shops. It is a covert site that reminds of a city which was developed and grew over years. There were 5 mosques, 1 school, 7 fountains, 10 wells, a stream, 1 public fountain, 1 water-tank, 18 gates and 40 inns till recently.
Grand Bazaar is very crowded throughout the whole day. The sellers insistently call the visitors to their shops. Today, the large and luxurious shops at the main entrance, provide every kind of manufactured and exported handmade articles in Turkey, the handmade carpets and jewellery are the finest examples of traditional Turkish art. They are sold with their quality and guarantee certificates and can be delivered everywhere around the world.