Istanbul is a city of unparalleled historical and cultural richness that is as fascinating and historical as it is dynamic and modern. Serving as the capital of three mighty empires and set squarely between two continents, Istanbul has cultures and traditions that blend East with West and Mediterranean with Anatolian. Each civilization that has made its home in Istanbul has left its mark in some way, and the result we see today is a city that could only have come about after thousands of years of diverse cultures each adding a little something. With one foot in Europe and another in Asia, and a vibrant atmosphere rooted in history while facing toward the future, Istanbul is truly as much a crossroads of ideas and cultures today as ever. Come see it for yourself! Add your footsteps to those of the millions who have walked along the Bosphorus for millennia and sampled all that Istanbul has to offer.
The Capital City of Three Empires:
Do you start with ancient history and artifacts, or do you start with the Roman, Byzantine or Ottoman Empires? Istanbul was capital of all three. Few cities in the world have such an amazing array of treasures. Istanbul is a natural gateway, offering a friendly welcome and genuine hospitality. It is a metropolis proud of its rich history and unrivaled natural beauty spread on two continents, Europe and Asia, divided by the Bosphrous. It is attractive both for the beauty of the surrounding landscape and for its historical treasures.
Turkey’s Tourism Capital: Istanbul
The archeological excavations in Yenikapı reveal that Istanbul’s history dates back 8,500 years. Since the day of its foundation, Istanbul has developed under the domination of several states in history and been the center of various cultures.
Istanbul which was the capital of three large empires remained as the capital of the Ottoman Empire for 470 years until 1923, following its conquest in 1453 by Mehmet the Conqueror. Under the Ottoman rule, Istanbul became the center of science, culture and art, and became a city of culture where mosques, synagogues and churches stood together. Preserving this character until the present day, Istanbul receives millions of tourists every year.
While the number of foreign tourists visiting Istanbul was 10 million 840 thousand 595 in 2017, this number increased by 24% to 13 million 433 thousand 101 in 2018.
Istanbul has several different types of tourism at the same time. It is possible to categorize them as cultural, health, camp and motor home, shopping, educational, cruise, sports and nature as well as belief tourism.
Outstanding Cultural Life
Istanbul’s unique character is well represented in its cultural life. Here you will find significant examples of Islamic Art, masterpieces of ceramic art as well as modern art at the recently opened Istanbul Modern Art Museum. Sabancı Museum’s collection of precious manuscripts and extensive collection of 19th and 20th century paintings are on permanent exhibition. The museum also hosts national and foreign exhibitions. It hosted an unique Picasso and Rodin Exhibitions recently. Istanbul also hosts the Istanbul Biennial, which is a themed month-long event meant to encourage stimulating artistic dialogue and understanding between artists from different fields and different cultures. There’s so much to do, from theatres and exhibitions to museums, historic and architectural tours and cruises.
Memorable Entertainment & Nightlife
From the ubiquitous sounds of live, traditional Turkish music and dancing in restaurants throughout the city to cultural and artistic events, international festivals, and glitzy clubs and bars on the Bosphorus, Istanbul is a city that knows how to entertain, and it knows how to party.
Whether you’re looking for family entertainment, educational events, or just looking for a night out that would make Dionysus proud, Istanbul’s got it all, from the water-front clubs with internationally-recognized DJs to five-star dining and even sushi on the Bosphorus!
Nightlife in Istanbul is a way of life, and few cities in the world have such a variety of world-class clubs and bars.
Exciting Events and Festivals
The Istanbul festival season generally runs from April to November, with several great events planned for that period. The largest and most important festivals are organized and promoted by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, founded in 1973. With international festivals for Film, Theatre, Music, and Jazz, Istanbul attracts big names and large crowds, always with a truly international artistic flair. Istanbul’s festivals are generally city-wide events, with showings taking place at any number of interesting venues across the city.
Delicious Turkish Cuisine
Turkish cuisine is among the most varied and extensive in the world, and fine restaurants offering the classics of Turkish cuisine as well as modern interpretations of classic favorites dot the Istanbul culinary landscape. Istanbul, with a restaurant almost literally at every turn, is a real culinary treat, and a snacker’s paradise. Whether you try the variations of Kebabs, or the fresh fish from the Bosphorus or the numerous kinds of fresh vegetables, you are guaranteed the delicious dining experience. Turkey is also home to a burgeoning wine industry, which is just now beginning to gain some international acclaim. The Bogazkere, Okuzgozu, and Kalecikkarasi grape varieties yield excellent vintages and are definitely worth a try. With vinyards all across western Anatolia between the age-old lunar landscapes of Cappadocia, the Euphates Valley, Thrace and the Aegean, there is no shortage of excellent choices of wines.
If you’re looking for a taste of the world, international cuisine is available at enticing locations across Istanbul, historic and modern, many with breathtaking views of the Bosphorus.
As they always say, cosmopolitan Istanbul is a meeting place of cultures, and has been for centuries. And that also means it’s also a meeting-place of foods and cuisines. So come to Turkey, experiment a little, and as the Turks say, “Afiyet olsun.,” or “Bon appetit.”
Hagia (St.) Sophia:
This magnificient architecture was built by Constantine the great and considered as the masterpiece of Byzantine art. Its first construction dates back to the end of the 4th century. Considered as “The Eight Wonder of the World”, this brilliant historical site is a must see in Istanbul.
Another must see in Istanbul. This palace was the imperial residence of the Ottoman sultans and it is the most extensive and fascinating monument of Turkish civil architecture in existence. It also houses extraordinary collections of porcelain, armour, fabrics, jewelery, miniatures, calligraphy and many other precious objects that once belonged to the sultans and their court.
Facing Hagia Sophia, famous with its blue Iznik tiles and unique with 6 minarets, was built in the name of Sultan Ahmet. It is almost the symbol of Istanbul. The blue and white of more than 20.000 İznik tiles are in a perfect harmony with golden manuscripts of Koran and the red of the carpets.
“Hippodrome” was constructed with the order of the Roman Emperor Septimus and then reconstructed as the hippodrome during the reign of Constantine the Great. The center of social life for Byzantium and Ottoman Empire could host 100,000 spectators. It was the scene of countless political and military events during the long life of this city. The Eygptian Obelisk is one of the three monuments decorating the
Hippodrome. This 3500-year-old monument was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Theodosius in 390 AD.
Underground Basillica Cistern:
It is one the most breathtaking historical sites in Istanbul. Here one discovers the grandiose nature of the past while touring through Istanbul’s largest and most magnificient undergroundCistern. It was built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century to supply water to the near by palace complex. The cistern has 336 decorated columns. Two spectacular Medusa head carvings were discovered during the restoration works.
Chora (Kariye) Museum:
It is also known as the mosaic museum and is located within the city walls of Edirne Kapı. The mosaics and frescoes were designed and executed between 1315 and 1321. Chora Museum is originally formed the center of a Byzantine monestry complex. Only the church section, which was dedicated to Jesus Christ the Savior, has survived. After the arrival of Ottomons in Istanbul, this building was converted to a mosque. In 1948, it was converted into a museum leaving no Islamic element in the building.
A spectacular architectural artwork of the Great Architect Sinan and a best example of Ottoman architecture. Standing in the courtyard of the mosque gives one the chills and make one appreciate this breathtaking artwork..
Time for shopping through 4400 shops in the famous Grand Bazaar, the oldest covered shopping area in the world! One will explore the mysterious atmosphere and numberless side streets with gold and diamond shops, leather and textile shops as well as beautiful handcrafts of Turkey.
Opportunity to shop and smell the finest herbs and Turkish delicates! Spice Market is one of Istanbul’s most exciting and colorful bazaars with its cosy atmosphere offering the mystery of Oriental cuisine through extraordinary spices and herbs in thousands of sacks.
Sail and relax with joy like the Sultans did!
During the Ottoman Empire, the Sultans’ favorite personal pleasure was to sail on the Bosphorus with a special wooden boat called “Kayık”. These boats had a gondola-like design, made from special kind of wood, interiors covered in velvet with silk cushions, rowed by trained oarsmen. Now, these “kayıks” are back are used for special tours. Guests can have drinks and music on board. Capacity is 30 pax per boat.
This impressive building represent contemporary and unique architecture in Ottoman Empire. The palace was built by Sultan Abdulmecit as the outcome of his Westernization influences between the years 1844 and 1853. It houses one of the finest materials used in Ottoman Empire such as very expensive chandeliers, crystals, glasses and furniture. It served as the residence of late Ottoman Emperors and Ataturk, the founder of Turkey. The tour of this palace is certainly worthwhile.