Istanbul, Turkey

Augusta, Antonina, Nova Roma, Byzantion, Byzantium, Constantinople and finally Istanbul. These exciting names reminds us of the mysterious and enchanting past of this unique city, the only city in the world that straddles two continents, and has been the capital of two empires.

Founded by ancient Greeks, and later capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire, Istanbul blossomed anew at the heart of the Moslem Ottoman Empire following its capture by the Turks in 1453. Both empires bequeathed Istanbul a wealth of superb buildings and monuments such as Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches, Venetian towers, and Ottoman palaces from the Byzantine, and Ottoman and Turkish periods. Some of the key sights in the city include the Hagia Sophia, Blue, and Suleymaniye mosques, the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi palace, the Basilica Cistern, the largest of several hundred cisterns that lie under the city of Istanbul, and the Galata tower which provides commanding views of the city, the straits of Bosphorus, and the iconic bridge that connects the continents of Europe and Asia.

With 18 million inhabitants, Istanbul is also one of the most lively metropolises in the world with a variety of intercontinental events, international film, music and theater festivals, countless museums and art galleries, colorful fresh food markets, and exquisite restaurants featuring both Turkish and international cuisine. With its exotic blend of history and culture, there is never a dull moment in Istanbul.


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