About İstanbul Originally named Byzantium and later Constantinople, Istanbul is the only city in the world to span two continents. It sits on the Bosphorus, the strait of water that divides the continents of Europe and Asia and encompasses the natural harbour of the Golden Horn. Its illustrious past leaves a rich legacy of churches, mosques, palaces and museums, complemented by the behemoth Grand Bazaar with over 6,000 shops, the aromatic Egyptian Spice Market and colourful street life.
Sultanahmet, the compact old city of Istanbul, is full of parks, gardens and stunning sights. The Blue Mosque is famed for its blue Iznik tiles and unique six minarets. The Hagia Sofia, constructed in the 6th century, reigned as the grandest and biggest church in Christendom until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, when it became a mosque. Just around the corner is Topkapi Palace, a fascinating insight into the sultans that once ruled Turkey, from the opulent pavilions to the incredible jewels housed in the Treasury.
Istanbul was a capital city for many empires from the Romans to the Byzantines and and Ottomans. It may not be a capital today but it is still a thriving, eclectic city with a fascinating mix of architectural styles including Islamic, Baroque, Rococo and Art Nouveau, as well as famed nightlife and excellent cuisine options. Art galleries and museums are doted throughout the city and it hosts film festivals, as well as many major art, music and cultural events. Istanbul also hosts the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Air Race World Series, making it a world-class destination with plenty of attractions throughout the year.