Straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a truly wonderful contrast of cultures.
Istanbul is a place where one could easily lose themselves in the history of the region.
The sites, aromas and sounds of this former Byzantine empire, will astound and amaze you. The most famous of sites is the beautiful Hagia Sophia, a triumph of Byzantine architecture and one of the most visited museums in the world. An engineering marvel for its time, it was the largest building in the world, first constructed as a Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Christian cathedral, while later serving as a mosque, before being turned into a museum.
Equally as stunning is the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque. The mosque was constructed over a 7 year span, from 1609 – 1616, as a way to reassert Ottoman power. Nearby is the Roman-era Hippodrome, known as the social and sporting center of Constantinople, famous for its horse and chariot racing. It is said that large amounts of money were bet on these races, with as many as 8 chariots racing at a time (two per team), each of which was sponsored by one of the four competing political parties.
Enjoy the exciting atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest in the world, as it tantalizes your senses with stalls upon stalls of aromatic spices, Turkish coffee, and other culinary delights. Be amazed by the handwoven Kilim rugs, copperware, pottery and other goods handcrafted and sold in the bazaar. Be sure to sharpen your bargaining skills to fully appreciate your experience.