East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet... wrote Rudyard Kipling in one of his poems. However, there is a place on Earth, where this wise statement simply doesn’t work, and where East and West not only meet, but also co-exist peacefully. This place is Istanbul, which lies literally on the border between Europe and Asia. Istanbul is one of the oldest cities in the world. This is the city with a rich history. During different periods of time the city was the capital of three empires - Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Its past is depicted in numerous monuments of history and culture, which are so numerous and widespread in Istanbul.
Istanbul is home to numerous old buildings and religious sites. Hagia Sophia Cathedral is one of the most popular places of interest among tourists. It was built in the beginning of the 6th century....
Topkapi (show on map
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is a palace complex located on the cape bordering the Bosporus. This fact guarantees that visitors will be amazed with wonderful panoramic views. Inner premises of the palace are used to exhibit collections of several museums. The most interesting among them is the Museum of Archaeology. In addition to numerous wonderful items the museum exhibits sarcophagi, pottery, and other valuable artifacts of the Ottoman period. The main building of the complex also hosts a museum, the collection of which consists of war trophies, gifts and everyday use items. The palace’s harem can be entered only with a guide. Even though the entrance to the palace is paid, you will not be disappointed. All the buildings in the complex were created in the XV century. There is a large park around them. In this park visitors are welcome to stroll, enjoying unhurried walk under the shade of old trees.
Basilica of Hagia Sophia.
The construction of Basilica of the Divine Wisdom or Hagia Sofia
was carried out in accordance with the order of Emperor Justinian in the VI century. This decision was made after the previous church, which once had stood there, was destroyed during a rebellion. Allegedly, Justinian was the one who said the famous words during the official opening of the basilica, "I surpassed you, Solomon!". Initially, Hagia Sophia was an Orthodox church. However, later it was used as a mosque. Approximately 20 years after the completion of all the construction works, the dome of the basilica was ruined in 558 due to wrong calculations of the project. The pay for this error was very costly – the architects were beheaded.
Residents of Istanbul have several distinct national characteristics. In Istanbul, as well as in any city in the country, the natives have great respect for religious customs and traditions. Women...
The current dome was installed in 563. This is a true piece of an architectural art - the perimeter of the building has windows, so it looks like the dome stands on air. Over 900 years Hagia Sophia was the main cathedral of Constantinople (the former name of Istanbul). In 1453, by order of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, the Orthodox basilica was converted into a mosque. Several minarets were attached to the building, and the mosaic featuring Byzantine saints was concealed under a thick layer of plaster. Because of this the mosaic has survived till our days.
Ataturk was a great supporter of the idea of church and state separation. Therefore, in 1935 he made a decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a museum. This is when the plaster was removed. Arabic inscriptions dominate in the basilica, but you can find several Christian icons here, including the mosaic depicting Saint John Chrysostomos. The north wing of the building is the location of a special column made of marble and bronze. According to an old legend, the holy water trickles from the column.
Sultan Ahmet Mosque.
Zoe Teras Lounge & Bar & Club is surely one of best restaurants devoted to national cuisine. Its tables are placed on a large outdoor terrace. The restaurant is open until late in the evening, so you...
Blue Mosque, or, as it is also called, the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet
is an Islamic response to Hagia Sophia. Its architect, Mehmet Aga Sedefkar, wanted to surpass the grandeur of the Orthodox basilica, and many people believe he managed to do it. Blue Mosque was built between 1609 and 1617, almost 1100 years after Hagia Sophia. Its central dome is 33 meters in diameter and is surrounded by smaller domes.
Blue Mosque has as many as 6 Mosque minarets. Their number was supposed to symbolize the wealth of the sultan, but the fact that the number of minarets coincided with the number of minarets of the Grand Mosque in Mecca outraged the Muslim world. The sultan solved the problem by adding a seventh minaret to Blue Mosque. Inner premises of the mosque are decorated with 20,000 small tiles of blue, green and red-brown colors. The tiles were made in the town of Iznik. Blue tiles are found primarily on the protrusions and in the courtyard of the mosque. Do not forget to pay attention to the beautiful prayer niche, mihrab, carved in the wall facing Mecca. Travellers should keep in mind that the mosque is closed for visitors during prayers (5 times a day).
Tatilya Entertainment Park is one of the best places for family holidays. The park occupies the fifth place in the list of largest parks in the world. Tatilya has enough space for as many as five...
Famous Galata Bridge
is a popular place for fishing. Every day the bridge attracts tens and sometimes even hundreds of fishermen. Besides its beauty, the bridge has an important role – it connects the center of the city with the quarter of Sultanahmet, which is home to many tourist attractions. The Grand Bazaar is one of them. This is one of the largest covered markets in the world. For many tourists a visit to the Grand Bazaar is the most memorable event of the whole stay in the city. This is the place where you can find jewelry, spices, carpets, fake designer clothes. In other words, the market is able to meet the needs of any customer. There are more than four thousand shops here in total. Every day the Grand Bazaar is visited by approximately 250 - 400 thousand people. Hookah smoking is also one of the most popular tourist pastimes here.
You will see numerous boats near Galata Bridge. They offer to take visitors to a boat ride to the Bosporus which flows through Istanbul and links the Marmara Sea and Black Sea. Even more importantly – the Bosporus separates Europe and Asia. The strait is rather wide - its bottleneck is 640 m in width, and the length of the strait is 32 km. The majority of excursions last approximately two hours. The boats run along the European and Asian sides of the strait, providing visitors with an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful buildings of the city from the waterside.
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