Istanbul is the biggest city in the land of Turkey which is the heart of the country’s economy, culture and history. It is the third most populated cities in the world with a population of over 14.1 million. Istanbul is the administrative capital of the country. Commercially also, the city is the most active in the country as Istanbul is transcontinental and has the world’s busiest waterways around it. This place is called Bosphorus and lies in North West Turkey between the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara. Initially when the city was formed in 660 BC, it was called Byzantium. It has great has significantly great history. In 300 AD, it was established as Constantinople; from 330 to 395 AD, it was the capital city of the Roman Empire; then till 1204 and again from 1261 to 1453, it was the capital city of Byzantine Empire; between these years from 1204 to 1261, it was the capital of Latin Empire and after 1453 till 1992, it served as the capital of Ottoman Empire. Before the Ottoman Empire, the city followed Christianity during the times of Roams and Byzantines. It was after the coming of the Ottoman Empire in 1453, when the city converted to Islamic religion and that continues till today.
Istanbul is ranked fifth when we talk about the most popular tourist destinations. And this city is honored by the title of “European Capital of Culture”. It had more than 11.6 million people as tourists last year. The foreign visitors arriving in Istanbul is increasing every year. It is among the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the main historic centers on the earth. This metropolitan city is growing faster and faster in economic terms as well. There are plenty of places you can see in this city full of history and culture. The long history of empires of this place makes it the home of monuments of various kinds and diverse historical art.
Anyone visiting Istanbul must go to Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque (also known as Blue Mosque), Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern. All these are situated around Sultanahmet Square. Other attractions are Church of St. Savior which is situated in the old city peninsular area. This church has interior covered with frescos and mosaics which are precious work of art and exceptionally beautiful to look at. Just next to this church, there is full length western boundary marking the Theodosian Walls which are very impressive. Towards the north of this peninsula land of old city, they have ‘Galata’ across the Golden Horn and the Galata Tower seems to crown it. There is a sight to the north of this tower called the Galata Whirling Dervish Hall which also has religious importance. By the Turkish empires, we have the ‘Istanbul Modern’ near the Karakoy waterfront that hold exhibition of contemporary art of Turkey. When you move to the west of the old city, you will find the beautiful banks of Golden Horn. Here one can see the Ottoman Istanbul and what life used to be when the Ottoman Empire ruled here. You will find the most holy Islamic Shrine of Istanbul.
When you go back to the main city of Istanbul or the new city of Istanbul, you will find high rise building, skyscrapers, business hub and market etc. which gives a completely different outline to the and a distinct skyline to the city. Other places one must visit in Istanbul are Maiden’s Tower, Military Museum, Art Nouveau Buildings, waterside palaces, waterfront mansions, pine groves, etc.
There is a lot of stuff other than sightseeing that you can do in Istanbul. The most fun of them is ‘Hamams’. Hamams is the term used to refer to Turkish bath and the trip to Istanbul is incomplete without it and you would want to go there again. You can find a historical Hamam in pretty much every neighborhood. Sualtanahmet has a lot of historical Hamas. It is nothing like a western massage, but it is total Turkish experience. Another thing you must try in Istanbul is the ‘Nargile’. Nargile is a Turkish Water Pipe and was most popular in the political as well as social lives of Turkeys. For a few locals, Nargile is probably the greatest pleasure. It is sort of a Hookah and is allowed only in the places where you can smoke. The best thing to do in Istanbul for the tourists is probably the walking tours. The city has a perfect walk from Haghia Sophia to the top till the Topkapi Museum. This complete walk will be three hours long but you will find rest houses in the way.
You must take the Theodosian Walls Walk which I mentioned earlier. These walls build in 408 AD are still intact and make the border o the old city of Istanbul but some restoration was done in the 1990s. It is a 7 kilometer walk but is a must for every tourist in the country. All those who are in love with Cruiser also have a place to go to in Istanbul. There are Bosphorous cruisers which offer a three or two hour ride and take you around the city and show the historical buildings. The view from a cruise during the evenings is unforgettable. There are a lot of restaurants around the place and you will have a nice evening travelling this place.