Istanbul is not just the capital of modern Turkey, it’s also been the capital of three different empires throughout history so you can be sure that a city break in Istanbul will be packed with ancient culture and history.
The city is an eclectic mix of Ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Genoese and Ottoman culture, architecture and history so there’s plenty to get your teeth into and lots of Turkish traditions, cuisine and customs to learn about. It’s one of the most fascinating cities in the world straddling two continents, packed with historical ruins, fantastic museums, amazing architecture and important sights making it a must-see destination for anyone interested in world history.
Get your bearings in Istanbul by taking a walking tour or bus tour around some of its stunning sights. To start with, the Hagia Sofia, one of the most celebrated architectural feats of the world is well worth a visit. Once a church and then a mosque, it’s now a museum and one of the most visited places in the city. Other fantastic museums include the Istanbul Archaeology Museum with more than a million artefacts including Byzantine floor mosaics and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum which celebrates over 1000 years of Islamic art.
Architecture is one of the main reasons people visit this stunningly, cosmopolitan city and the building top of their list is the Topkapi Palace. Home to the Ottoman Sultans for nearly 400 years, the Palace has hundreds of rooms to explore, four courtyards and beautiful gardens to wander through, not to mention the awe-inspiring horde in the Treasury. The Basilica Cistern makes for an interesting trip as you won’t see many buildings like this in the world; the subterranean palace of over 300 marble columns was built to save the city from droughts and sieges and the Blue Mosque is another great sight to add to the list.
If you manage to exhaust all the historical and cultural places to visit in Istanbul and you need something else to do, why not take a trip to the Grand Bazaar for some haggling practice, sail over to the Prince’s Islands and take a dip in the sea surrounded by wooden Ottoman mansions and horse-drawn carriages or head to the Egyptian spice market for an al fresco lunch. Istanbul is a fantastic place to explore and discover ancient history and culture on a Turkey holiday.