Istanbul has been drawing people to it for centuries. The Greeks, Persians, Romans and Venetians all ruled here before the Ottoman’s took over and made it the crown jewel in their Empire. This was largely due to its strategic positioning straddling two continents and on the legendary Silk Routes that linked Asia and Europe. They also stayed because almost every empire left some beautiful mark on this magical city. This made it irresistible to so many people, and Istanbul is now the happy home of over 14 million people. The various influences permeate the city, with Roman architecture like the Obelisk erected by Theodosius in the Hippodrome of Constantinople standing side by side with Ottoman beauties such as the impressive Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı fortresses. There are so many architectural masterpieces in the city. Topkapi Palace is an imposing castle structure that housed the Ottoman monarchs for centuries. Aya Sofya is a stunning grand church, while the Sultan Ahmed Blue Mosque is one of the finest examples in the world. What makes visiting these grand structures even more special is the local populace, whose friendly manner and quick wit make visiting Istanbul an even more enjoyable experience.
Where is it?
Istanbul is located in the north east of Istanbul in Eurasia, with its historical centre lying on the continental European side and around a third of its population living on the Asian side of Eurasia.
What is it?
The vast city is home to over 14 million people, and has been a hugely important city to many of the biggest empires in the world. This is due to its strategic position along the historic Silk Road, its rail networks and being the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
Best time to visit?
April and May are the best months to visit Istanbul, as the sizzling summer hasn’t yet hit and local festivals are also in full flow.
Visit the multi-coloured and frenzied Grand Bazaar in the heart of the Old City to see how Istanbul residents really live. Peep down hidden side streets and barter for a bargain at one of the various stalls, and be prepared to drink lots of tea!