PLACES TO VISIT IN ISTANBUL
While it is hard to make a short list of places to visit in Istanbul; which was chosen as the “Best European Destination 2013” in which 20 selected towns competed for the prestigious title after a three weeks period of online voting; it won the title ahead of 19 substantial European cities.
Istanbul is the capital of Turkey in all but name; the cultural, financial and touristic center, the megapolis of Turkey and the most populous one in Europe with over 14 million people as of 2015.
Evidence of its 3000-year-old past can be seen at every corner: established in the 13th -11th century BC by the Thracian tribes with the name Lygos, the settlement has always been a popular crossroad for peoples, port of trades connecting east and west, center for cults and religions in the midst of the ancient world; a multi-colored city of legends and dreams, conflicts and fierce wars but above all, it was the city of wealth, beauty, and passion.
Known with the name Byzantium after 7th century BC, the city has had the most significant history of all time. It was reinvigorated as Constantinople in 330, during the reign of Constantine the Great and even was called as the Nova Roma. This glorious city is known as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire – Byzantine Empire for hundreds of years fell to Turks in 1453 and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The city but flourished and prospered continuously with time and became a world attraction center for adventurers, traders, artists, religious leaders, and rulers.
On top of being the administrative center of the empires, the city was an inspiration for the whole ancient world with its cultural, artistic, scientific, philosophical and technical achievements and the city itself would receive extensive influence from different cultures too. This exceptionally rich historic and artistic legacy is accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage since 1985.
The jewel of the city, Bosphorus is not only a busy waterway from Black Sea to Marmara Sea for ships but also a most picturesque setting for a cruise where you can enjoy beautiful examples of late Ottoman architecture, palaces, mansions and zestful water-front villas amongst lush green parks on both sides against the backdrop of modern high towers and your day may end with an elegant dine and wine on the water thereon.
A large variety of museums such as the esteemed Istanbul Archaeology Museums, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, various private ethnography and technical museums and Istanbul Modern Art Museum plus artifacts like Hagia Sophia, The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace are some topmost places to visit to mention that draw large crowds.
It has got two famous shopping attractions; Grand Bazaar, the oldest covered market in the world that has nearly 4000 shops where one can find almost any item produced on this planet and the highly popular Spice Market (Egyptian Bazaar) known for being the center for exotic spices and Turkish goodies.
Additionally, Istanbul is the best base for the tours to the important places of visit in the vicinity that have been honored by UNESCO World Heritage certificates, such as; legendary Troy, a trip to man's deep past; Bursa which is the silk center and second capital of the Ottoman State, decorated with outstanding early Islamic artifacts and Cumalikizik, an untouched Ottoman village with exceptional examples of rural architecture and traditional life; Edirne, the third capital of the Ottoman Empire and royal summer residential town where you see the zenith of Ottoman mosque art, Selimiye Mosque. Furthermore, Canakkale- Dardanelles and Gallipoli Battle Zones have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2014.
Below is a list of best places to visit in Istanbul. We strongly recommend Private Tours for optimum use of time and finance in the city and non-touristy environs where our experienced and knowledgeable guides will take you through time travel of a lifetime.