Istanbul

Istanbul is a major city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. Its Old City reflects cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. In the Sultanahmet district, the open-air, Roman-era Hippodrome was for centuries the site of chariot races, and Egyptian obelisks also remain. The iconic Byzantine Hagia Sophia features a soaring 6th-century dome and rare Christian mosaics.
The Ottoman-era Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) was named for its blue interior tiles. Circa-1460 Topkapı Palace, home to Ottoman sultans until the 19th century, contains royal artifacts and rooms that once comprised a large harem. Nearby is the Spice Market and rambling Grand Bazaar. Spanning the Golden Horn estuary, atmospheric Galata Bridge is a popular fishing spot and leads to the city’s modern heart. The Galata area is known for its medieval tower and upmarket boutiques. Beyoğlu’s stylish bars lie south of Taksim Square. The city’s eastern, Asian side encompasses residential areas and waterfront districts such as Kadiköy.