The unique skyline and exotic vibe of Istanbul, Turkey, are making it a favorite of cinematographers and filmmakers: you can see Istanbul in the recent movies Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Taken 2, The International and the new James Bond adventure, Skyfall. And, if you admire the city when you see it on a movie screen, imagine how much more wonderful it is in person.
Founded around 660 BC and once known as Constantinople, Istanbul is in the unusual position of being located on two continents. The city is dissected by the Bosphorus, a strait that links the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. With its strategic location, Istanbul has been the capital of no less than four empires: Roman, Byzantium, Latin and Ottoman. Today, it’s the economic and cultural powerhouse of Turkey. Istanbul also served as a European Capital of Culture in 2010.
Tourists come to Istanbul for many reasons: certainly, one of them is to see the incredible collection of historic buildings. For example, the Hagia Sophia is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture. It’s been a cathedral and a mosque, and is now a museum.
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque – or Blue Mosque – is flanked by six stunning minarets, and is classic Ottoman style architecturally. Its nickname comes from the beautiful blue tiles that adorn the interior.
Topkapi Palace overlooks the city’s harbor, the Golden Horn, and was the main residence of the ruling Ottoman sultans for about 400 years. Among the treasures in the Topkapi Palace Museum are important Muslim relics, including a cloak and sword that belonged to Muhammad.
Buildings in Istanbul’s fashionable Beyoglu district reflect the European influence on the city. Nestled among there are the studios and galleries of working artists.
Sightseeing will make you hungry, and Istanbul is a great place to eat. There are kebabs of grilled lamb, veal, beef or chicken on skewers, delicious stews and casseroles, and lots of seafood.
Istanbul also offers memorable shopping. There are plenty of modern boutiques and shopping centers, but don’t miss the Grand Bazaar, a covered market that’s been operating since 1461. You’re sure to find a wonderful keepsake among the 4,000 stalls full of jewelry, leather, pottery, spices, carpets and more.
To discover all that Istanbul has to offer and make your plans to visit, talk with your travel professional.