The queen of cities, Istanbul is the immortal and legendary city that reaches over two continents, calling both Europe and Asia her home, claiming the title of the only city in the world to do so. Her mesmerizing beauty has been the inspiration for poems, songs and novels for hundreds of years. Istanbul has been the capital of three empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Initially named Byzantium, she was later called Nova Roma, Constantinople, and Stin Poli meaning “to the city”, which evolved into Istanbul.

During its 8500 year history, various beliefs, powers, languages and cultures sculptured its mystical identity, while Istanbul dictated the history of an era.

Istanbul is a city of coexistence and tolerance where different beliefs, cultures and ethnic groups have been marbled together in the imperial mold of the city, creating the unique Istanbul culture. Churches, mosques and synagogues have been built side by side in peaceful acceptance. Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey, but it is where the heart of the country beats with its 15 million inhabitants.

The old city of Constantinople is on the historical peninsula surrounded by the Bosphorus Strait, the Golden Horn and the Marmara Sea, and it boasts the remarkable crowning monuments of the Byzantine and the Ottoman legacies. This beautiful peninsula has been the center of power for state and religion for more than 120 Roman emperors and Ottoman Sultans in over 1600 years.

The Eastern Roman Patriarchate has been and is still located here since it was established, and the first monumental churches of Christianity were built in this city on top of pagan temples.

New Rome, or Constantinople, was built on seven hills by Roman emperor Constantine the Great in the fourth century AD, and was surrounded by strong defense walls for protection. These walls were rebuilt four times to enclose more land during the Byzantine empire and  in present day, they are some of the most important monuments of Istanbul, symbolizing the constant struggle for possession of this valuable city.

Following its capture by the Ottomans in 1453, Constantinople was transformed into its Turkish character in about 100 years through the construction of mosques, palaces, schools, hamams and fountains.

Istanbul has been the seat of the Islamic caliphate from the 16th century until 1924. The city has also been home to large groups of Jewish communities immigrating here to find refuge from different countries.

Some must see attractions in the old city are the Topkapi Palace, imperial Ottoman mosques, mausoleums, the hippodrome, ancient bazaars, sacred fountains, cisterns and the 1500 year old Hagia Sophia.

The Pera, home to the famous Istiklal Street, is a prominent district on the European side, which is separated from the old city by the Golden Horn. Full of near-unlimited choices for experiencing the delicacies of the Turkish Cuisine and entertainment, it is where you will see Istanbul in action.

The cuisine of Istanbul is full of irresistible delicacies. These traditional dishes of the Ottoman Empire’s vast imperial regions have been refined in the palace kitchens combining the flavors of Turkish, Greek, Jewish, Armenian, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Balkan cuisines. Perfectly seasoned kebabs, soups, pastries to die for, mezes, fresh grilled fish, baklavas and sweets named after harem ladies, Turkish delights,  syrups, Turkish tea and coffee and many more must be sampled to know why Turkish Cuisine is one of the most renowned in the world.

Istanbul’s food culture is further enriched by its street food. You can deepen your acquaintance with the city by having a feast on the street. Fish sandwiches, spicy moist hamburgers, pickles, gyro, spicy meatballs, stuffed mussels, Turkish pizza called lahmacun, pide and lokma are only a few of the choices that you can find in many places until the early hours of the morning.

Turkey is amazing…and Istanbul is the pinnacle of this amazingness!

Visit Istanbul to…

Listen to the ezan as you watch the sun set over the silhouette of old Istanbul; with its mosques, palaces and churches.

Stroll through the colorful streets of this ageless and ever growing dynamic city.

Take a cruise on the blue waters of the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia, from the Marmara to the Black Sea.

Taste irresistible kebabs with pistachios, indulge yourself in unbelievable varieties of turkish delight and baklava, and enjoy the fresh aroma of  Turkish coffee.

Feel the joy of experiencing 8500 years of unbelievable history that surrounds you…

Enjoy touring fascinating Turkey with a highly knowledgeable and friendly private tour guide.

Ask Berna to plan your journey of a life time to Turkey…
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