There are many more world-class attractions in this enchanted crossroads of East and West than there are minarets.
The strategic location of Istanbul has drawn numerous roving armies over the years. Before the Ottomans swept into town and decided to stay, the Greeks, Romans, and Venetians took turns reigning; physical evidence of their previous regimes can be found all across the city. The city’s location on two continents wasn’t its only allure; it was also the last stop on the fabled Silk Road, which connected Asia with Europe. Many of the merchants who came here fell in love with the place and stayed. They gave the city a cultural richness in this way that it still has now.
Ancient conquering armies were more likely to plunder the city than to leave it with artistic treasures, but that all changed with the Byzantines, who decorated their churches and palaces with paintings and mosaics. Thankfully, many of these are still around. Their successors, the Ottomans, quickly began an extensive building programme, and the lavishly embellished imperial mosques that were the result are architectural marvels that combined constitute one of the great skylines in the world. The vast dreams of the Ottomans have been revived in recent years by regional banks and corporate families, who have funded a remarkable selection of art galleries, museums, and festivals for the enjoyment of all.
You ask, “But what about the food?” We’re pleased to inform that the city’s cuisine is as varied as its history and, to top it off, exquisite. The best restaurants in the nation may be found here since locals take their eating and drinking seriously. However, most visitors prefer to try the succulent kebaps, flavorful mezes, and freshly caught fish that are the city’s signature dishes, washing them down with the national drink, rak (aniseed brandy), or a few glasses of locally made wine. You can eat aromatic Asian dishes or Italian classics if you so choose.
Unlike some other historic cities, Istanbul has much more to offer than only its monuments. Its inhabitants, who exude a contagious sense of kindness and joy of life, are among its many charms. This thriving, diverse, and growing community is full of individuals who value family and friends, work hard and enjoy themselves, and have no trouble combining tradition and modernity in their daily lives. A highlight of your trip will be joining them at their favourite hangouts, which include kebap restaurants, coffee shops, Turkish pubs, and çay bahçesis (tea gardens).