Istanbul, Turkey

Snow in the winter, Sun in the summer, Turkey is the place to be any time of the year! The capital of empires... The city that dominated continents... The cradle of civilisation... The meeting point of cultures... These are some of the thousands of phrases that describe Istanbul, Turkey. Only when you walk along its historic streets, discover its culture, its treasures, and mingle with its crowds; will you be able to see the beauty of this unique place and throughout its long history, a city that many desired to conquer. Take home a horde of intoxicating memories to cherish.

Be Sultan for an Hour or TwoFirst thing you would want to experience in Istanbul is living like royalty. Be a sultan for an hour or two while discovering the great Dolmabahçe Palace! Built in the 19th Century, the Dolmabahçe Palace is one of the most Glamorous palaces in the World. The palace has survived intact with its original decorations, furniture, and the silk carpets and curtains. It surpasses all other palaces in the world in wealth and magnificence. The three-storied palace built on a symmetrical plan; discover the 285 rooms and 43 halls. Explore the well-kept, beautiful gardens surrounding this seaside palace. In the middle of the palace, there is a large ballroom with a ceiling higher than the other sections. Imagine these marvelous walls and ceilings are covered with paintings by the famous artists of the age and decorations made using tons of gold. Don’t forget to browse around the annex in the north which was reserved for the crown prince. The entrance to this building is from Besiktas and it now serves as the Museum of Fine Arts.

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Hang out Under the Bridge It may not sound like an ideal way to spend an hour of your precious sightseeing time, but hanging out under the Galata Bridge is highly recommended. The Bridge itself is one of Istanbul’s most iconic Landmarks and forms the vital link between the two sides of European Istanbul. Now here is the catch, its lower deck (directly under the walkway) is home to restaurants, bars and tea houses with ringside waterfront seating for boat watching and cheap beers. No visit to Istanbul is complete without either walking along, ferrying under, taking the tram across, or enjoying a drink on the Galata Bridge… and ideally, all four! One of the nicest ways to end a day in Istanbul is having a drink at one of the many restaurants found underneath the bridge, after a long day of sightseeing.

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Wonder at Past Glories Make time in your busy vacation to marvel at the Rounded roofs and pointed minarets of Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum at the Turkish Republic, Hagia Sophia has always been the precious of its time. Truly one of man's greatest architectural achievements, the Emperor Justinian built the Hagia Sophia to create a cathedral that would match the ancient Solomon's famous cathedral in 537 A.D. When it was built, the Hagia Sophia was the largest building in the world and, even today; it is the 4th largest church building in the world. In 1943, the Republic of Turkey converted Hagia Sophia into a museum. Now, the building is part Christian and part Islamic, but wholly humbling in a beauty that transcends cultural and religious differences. Today the mosaic walls and vaulted chambers merely hint at its former glory but, definitely a must see when visiting Istanbul.

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Escape to the Princes’ Islands The Princes’ Island is just a short ferry ride away from Istanbul. Set in the Marmara Sea off the Asian shore. Today, this is one of the last places to offer a glimpse of the old ethnic mic of Istanbul in all its splendor: Greeks, Armenians and Jews still rub shoulders with Turks in the local Squares, and churches are more numerous than mosques. During the summer the Princes’ Islands are popular destinations for day trips from Istanbul. As there is no traffic on the Islands, the only transportation being horse and cart, motor vehicles are strictly prohibited. Upon arriving you will see the lavish Ottoman Mansions and other Beautiful Victorian Style summer villas, the locals on the Island are incredibly peaceful compared with the city of Istanbul. There are colorful fruit trees, beautiful gardens and exotic flowers to be seen everywhere. This is the perfect way to relax and enjoy where Istanbul’s residents visit to escape the rush of the city.

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