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Istanbul - Europe's Cultural Capital



The cultural diversity and unique location of Istanbul give it a special appeal, making this Turkish city an ideal destination for a vacation. The city is located on both sides of the strait, between the Marmara and Black Seas. If you are a backpacker, this is an ideal destination for you.

You need to know where you want to go and what you would like to do beforehand to avoid getting overwhelmed when you visit Istanbul. Istanbul is known as the cultural capital of Turkey, and there are many tourist attractions that will keep you busy here.

The Hagia Sophia is one of the best attractions in the city. This masterpiece of Roman engineering has seen interesting transformations. It was initially built as a church in 550 AD, but was later transformed into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered the city some centuries later. Currently, the Hagia Sophia is a museum. You will find some special items here that will help you to learn more about the city's history. Depending on the number of tourists, you may wait in a queue. If this happens, you can take advantage of the time you have and do some exploring around the area.

The Bosphorus strait is another interesting place to visit. This is where Istanbul joins two continents together. The Bosphorus strait bridges the gap between Europe and Asia and is quite a busy place with ferries crossing to the other side nearly all the time. When you take a ride on a ferry, you will have some of the best views of such places as the Topkapi Palace. The ferry will take a quarter of an hour to cross to the other side.

Taking a bath in a 'Hamam' is another special way to enjoy Istanbul. This refers to ancient Turkish baths that were constructed in the early part of the 16th century. The only 'Hamam' that is open for both men and women in the whole of Turkey is the Sulemaniye Bath.

The oldest covered market in the world is also found in Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar is well-known and even if you did not know it was in Istanbul, you will likely recognize the place from television and movies. You will not be able to go through all the stalls in a trip that takes a few hours. So don't come here when you are in a hurry, as you will most likely be engaged in haggling with the stall owners when you find interesting items. It is also very easy to get lost within the bazaar.

Istanbul is filled with history. Three popular sites include Galata Tower, Anatolian Fortress, and the Egyptian Obelisk.

Tea is the popular drink in Istanbul, and indeed the whole of Turkey. The flavored tea has a soothing effect that will leave you relaxed. When you have had a long day of shopping and touring, sit at one of the cafes and enjoy a cup of Turkish tea.

Istanbul never seems to be quite still. Activities go on all through the day and night. There are no excuses for being bored when you visit this unique city of many cultures. Whether you enjoy drinking, dancing or watching live concerts, Istanbul has something for you.

Beauty, history, entertainment, and culture combine to make Istanbul an especially enchanting place to vacation.



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