Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and has a history that dates back around three thousand years making it one of the world’s oldest cities. Until 1930 Istanbul was formally known as Constantinople named after the Roman emperor Constantine. When the city was originally founded it was known as Byzantium.
Istanbul is located on the Bosphorus strait and is split in two, one half located in Europe and one half in Asia. This division makes it the only major city in the world to be located on two continents. Istanbul has a population of over 15 million.
Istanbul summers are hot and humid while winters can be cold and rainy with occasional snow
Istanbul is a colorful city and a center for commerce, culture, education, shopping, tourism, entertainment and art. The city abounds with bazaars, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mansions. It is a major port and a center for trade. Istanbul is at the centre of the Turkey’s economic life
The neighborhoods of Istanbul are a melting pot shaped by many different ethnic communities including Greek Orthodox Christians, Armenian Christians, and the Sephardic Jews.
Istanbul is a major center for arts and culture with the International Arts and Cultural Festival being held each year in June and July attracting artists of international repute.
Nightclubs abound throughout the city and provide both traditional Turkish entertainment such as belly-dancing and also more modern such as cabarets, discos, and clubs.
Shopping in Istanbul is a multi-faceted experience. For a truly unique experience try the Covered Bazaar with more than 4,000 shops located in the old city. This is the traditional Turkish way of shopping and an experience not to be missed. Local crafts abound including carpets, pottery, glassware, jewelry, spices and leather goods.
For a more modern shopping experience try the Taksim – Nisantasi – Sisli areas of the city. Here you can explore fashionable stores selling clothing made from Turkey’s high quality textiles.
Turkish baths or hammams are the perfect way to rejuvenate after a days of shopping and sight-seeing. These usually include a Turkish massage, steam bath and tea.
Food in Turkey shows the influence that other cultures have had on the city. There are influences from the Far East and the Mediterranean which merge within Turkish cuisine. From home meals and sidewalk cafes to fancy restaurants you will experience good food and value for money. Local tradesman eateries serve lunches such as sulu yemek (stew) and pilav (rice).
Traditional Turkish cuisine includes delicacies such as kebap, baklava, lokum, and rakı, Meals include soups, rice dishes, stuffed veggies, pastries and rich desserts. Turkish coffee is renowned around the world and is a long way removed from the coffees found in North America. Turkish delight is a sweet confection flavored with rose water or lemon. It is eaten in small cubes dusted with sugar.
There are so many delights to be had when visiting Istanbul. The city offers something for everyone. It is a wonderful, fascinating place with such a rich heritage and diversity of cultures. The historical buildings and houses, the bridges crossing the Bosphorus, the stores, bazaars and restaurants and the Turkish people make the Istanbul experience one never to be forgotten.