One of the most populated and largest world cities, Istanbul is highly unlikely to disappoint any visitor with what it has to offer. Situated on the two sides of the historical waterway Bosphorus, its numerous secrets, only a few of which have been found out, maintain a mysterious magical atmosphere for the tourists.
Under different names and reigns, the city we know as Istanbul nowadays has passed the millennial historical way from the Neolith (7th millennium BC) to nowadays. Officially, the town was founded by King Byzas in 660 BC with the name Byzantium. After being under Persian and Greek authority for centuries, it gained independence in 355 BC and in 73 AD it became a part of the Roman Empire.
During the authority of Constantine the Great the citizens started referring to the city of Istanbul (as we know it today) as Constantinople. On May 11, 330 AD Constantine proclaimed it the new capital of the Roman Empire, later – the Byzantine Empire. The city was established as a cultural, trade and social centre of the Empire, the Christianity and the Greek traditions.
On May 29, 1453, after being under siege for eight weeks, the city, already known as Istanbul, became not only a part of the Ottoman empire, but also its capital. The Ottomans revived the magnificent city and undertook a massive building activity. Istanbul was capital of the Ottoman Empire until year 1923, when Ankara replaced it as a capital of the newly-declared Republic of Turkey.
There is surely a lot to visit and see in Istanbul and you won’t be able to go and look around everything in a day or two. In Istanbul there are a lot of large and rich museum, preserving the historical artefacts of three mighty empires and a total period of millenniums. Although the archaeological museums are the fame of Istanbul, nowadays you may visit a lot of contemporary art museums that will satisfy your need for fine arts.
When you visit Istanbul, don’t forget to visit Hagia Sophia, one of the biggest Christian churches in the world, which was converted in a mosque. Another historical monument worth seeing is Sultanahmet Camii, or the so-called Blue Mosque, which is one of the best things to see in Istanbul. Of course, you can’t leave Istanbul without visiting Topkapi Palace, created by the conqueror of Constantinople – Mehmed II. Near it is Galata Kulesi, built by Genoese architects in 1348.
If you prefer to give yourself some rest and have some leisure time in Istanbul, you can visit the numerous shopping centres. One of the largest and oldest bazars in the world – The Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsisi) – is working since year 1461. Near it are the Mahmutpasha Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar, also being on their places for centuries. On the other hand, Galleria Atakoy is a modern and luxurious shopping mall, one of the biggest in Turkey. Other malls include the highly popular Akmerkez, Istanbul Cevahir and Kanyon.
If you like trying different things, you should not miss the Turkish cuisine – the traditional kebab, as well as the different seafood meals Istanbul is so famous with. Of course, in this big city you will be able to find different national cuisines from almost every part of the world, so you will surely not be disappointed.
You will surely find it easy to get to Istanbul – you can use any transportation you prefer. If you plan your excursion yourself, don’t forget to check for low cost bus, plane and train tickets, as they are often available. There is no particular time when it is recommended to visit the city – it is magnificent in every season and you will certainly feel its atmosphere no matter what time of the year.