A great capital city of Turkey now, Istanbul was a remarkable city in the heydays of Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire and of course, as the capital of Turkish Ottoman Empire. Its history as the capital city of imperialism is a fascinating story of conflicting religious beliefs attempting to capture the whole of Europe. Today, it is the 5th largest city in the world and is acclaimed as a culture capital of Europe as well. In the past it was also known as Byzantium, New Rome, Constantinople, etc. It is a city which actually is located in both European and Asian continents.
As a city noted for its fusion of culture and also distinct religious beliefs, Istanbul is full of ancient and medieval architectural remains. The modern architecture in the fork of high rise buildings is also quite remarkable. One can, therefore, find beautiful churches, mosques, synagogues as religious legacies of the past while castles, palaces and public buildings represent the administrative remnants. The earliest specimen of architectural value is Maiden’s Tower constructed way back in 408 BC to serve as a light-house. Several changes and additions have been made to this in later centuries but the grandeur of the original structure still retains its charm. The column of Constantine was erected by the Roman Emperor by that name and still stands as a testimony to the innovative spirit of those times. Also from the time of that great Emperor, construction of walls and fortification went on to protect the city. The Golden Gate, Seven Towers, the Column of Marcianus are some of the great monuments. Also noteworthy is Hagia Sophia, constructed by Justinian, regarded as one of finest examples of Byzantine architecture. Hagia Irene, Chora Church and Pammakaristos Church are some other noteworthy churches for architectural elegance. The Galata Tower could be considered as the last citadel of Genoese style. Of the Ottoman structure, special mention must be made of Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Faith Mosque and Yeni Mosque. The Bosphorous Bridge would complete the important landmark belonging to architectural grace. There are more than 50 tall skyscrapers with Sapphire of Istanbul (261 metres) of recent constructions symbolising modern and pleasing form of architecture!
Transport in every conceivable form can be had in Istanbul. Airpors, Harbour, Metro rail, trams, Trains and funicular service assure people of comfortable and punctual travel. Well organised systems take care of the requirements of the tourists and local population alike.
There are dozens of fine museums in Istanbul, quite natural in keeping with the cultural richness of the city. While the city itself exhibits a mixture of cultural distinctness and cohesion these museums throw light on various fine aspects of culture.
There are fine theatres catering to the musical, dramatic and opera drives of the people. Cultural activities, rich and vibrant, educative and entertaining take place almost round-the-year. Modern Pop music jostles with classical expositions and you have a feast for aesthetic sense.
Grand Bazaar, Mahmutbaza bazar, Egyptian Bazaar are some centuries-old shopping centres. Of course, one has the most modern malls as well. One must remember that Istanbul is now a very busy commercial centre as well. Befitting that status the tourists will find a treasure-trove of shopping centres.
Restaurants, night life, food and wine are a perennial source of delight to the tourists in Istanbul. As there is no dearth of visitors to the city, there is no lack of suitable accommodation either. From star hotel luxury to the comforts of a budget living quarters, everything can be had in Istanbul. Food is exquisite and varied. Cultured and relaxed night life is guaranteed.
Istanbul has oriental magic and western briskness. A visit to Istasnbul will satisfy the cravings of my desires of the tourists.