This unique city on the shores of the Bosporus is the only city in the world to straddle two continents. Over the course of its more than 2,500-year history, Istanbul has also gone by the names Byzantium and Constantinople. Most of Istanbul's sights are located in the European part of the city: Hagia Sophia, once a basilica, then a mosque and now a museum.
Or the former sultan's residence Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahçe Palace – once the seat of the Ottoman administration – and the magnificent mosques with their minarets soaring into the sky, beginning with the famous Blue Mosque. And of course Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar. Here you can smell the heady perfumes of exotic spices, buy exquisitely made carpets, haggle over gold jewellery, pots and leather goods, and engage in animated conversations with the stallholders. Stroll over the Galata Bridge spanning the Golden Horn, the inlet that cuts into the European part of the city, and see the countless fishermen dipping their lines into the water passing below it.
If you are tempted by the Asian part of this 14-million-strong city, that is easy too – several ferries will carry you across to the other side, or you can go by road over one of the bridges. The two continents are even connected by a railway line.
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Fly to Istanbul, the city of two faces