The largest city, an important seaport, industrial, commercial and cultural center of Turkey, its capital until 1923, still remains the center of cultural and spiritual life of Turkey. Beautifully situated on the banks of the Bosphorus, the city with its numerous buildings of the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, museums and palaces, storing treasures of art, attracts tourists like a magnet. Istanbul is the only city in the world lying on two continents – Asia and Europe. Golden Horn Bay arbitrarily divides the European half of the city into two parts. Those who have been to Istanbul at least once, will never forget the impression of delight and wonder that swept them seeing the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus.
According to the legend, in 667 BC, son of the god Poseidon and king of Megara Byzantium founded the town, which was named after him. In 330 the Byzantine Empire was invaded by the Romans, and Emperor Constantine, having appreciated the excellent strategic location of the city, ordered to move the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium, which became known as Constantinople. Constantine wanted a new capital to surpass the beauty of Rome. There were constructed majestic buildings, precious sculptures, marble columns, previously decorating Roman temples and squares. And in the XV century, the town was captured by the Ottomans led by Mehmed II and renamed into Istanbul. Two eras, Christian and Muslim, have left their mark in the shape of Istanbul.
Many historical and architectural monuments have been preserved since then. The main one is the Hagia Sophia, or St. Sophia’sCathedral. It was opened in 532 during the reign of Emperor Justinian. Majestic, dominating the city, but at the same time light and as if floating in the air, the temple was the main Christian Shrine until the construction of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. But after the capture of the city by Turkish troops – the fall of the "second Rome" – St. Sophia’s Cathedral was turned into a mosque. The city gradually acquired an Oriental flavor. Mosques, madrasas, Turkish baths, cool fountains and crowded caravanserais appeared here.
Istanbul is like no other city in the world and at the same time it resembles many others. There is a full flavor of Asia with mosques, muezzins calling for prayer, women in veils, and real Europe with clean streets, roads, shops, villas, surrounded by flowers.
Istanbul is as a mirror of desires: here everyone finds what he is looking for. Intelligent and inquisitive tourists come to the delight of many centuries of history, rare, beautiful and important attractions. A businessman is affected by the extent and pace of the city life. A person, who has come for shopping, is torn trying to see and buy all the inexpensive things. Numerous oriental bazaars abound with ornaments, souvenirs, fabrics and spices. Here, there are antique shops. Visiting the bazaar will leave a lasting impression on the residents of large cities, accustomed to the glass and concrete malls.
A cheerful adventurer will get lost in nameless streets and houses without numbers. A crazy mix of times, temperaments, and architectural styles – this is Istanbul, a city on seven hills and two continents – Europe and Asia. Largely due to its geographical location, Istanbul has become one of the main shopping centers in Eurasia and a very convenient place for major international exhibitions and congresses.
In the city there are many discos and nightclubs. You can just go dancing and enjoy the unusual Turkish cuisine in one of the restaurants. Istanbul also has many clubs and restaurants where you can see a real belly dancing. Every year Istanbul becomes more and more a popular tourist city.
Tourists come here to get in touch with a long history and just walk around the city on the two continents, experience the main paradox: Asia here is Europe, and Europe is Asia. Modern Istanbul is a huge metropolis that perfectly combines its modern buildings and ancient architecture, which creates the unique flavor that can only be found here. .