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Istanbul Back

Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so it will come as no surpise that this vast metropolis is home to a beguiling mix of different cultures and traditions, blending the influences of both east and west.

The city has a rich and intriguing history; originally founded by Greek settlers over 2000 years ago, Istanbul originally went by the name of Byzantium, later renamed Constantinople by the Romans who made it the captial of their eastern empire. The Ottomans took control in 1453CE and renamed the city Istanbul, making it their capital. 

Today the city is the largest in Turkey, a bustling mega-city with a population of over 12 million people in total. The old town is a good place to start your explorations. The Grand Bazaar is a paradise for souvenir hunters and you may well find yourself drinking tea with the shopkeepers whilst haggling over prices - it is often thought to be the most-visited tourist attraction in the world! Then there's the Topkapı Palace and Harem, Istanbul's iconic Blue Mosque and the incredible ancient church of Hagia Sophia. The Archaeological Museum which contains the tomb of Alexander the Great is also worth a look.

After all that sightseeing, take a stroll down to the waterfront and maybe take a boat ride up the Bosphorus - this is a great relaxing way to experience the city from a different angle, with excellent views of the minarets and towers that give the city its distinctive skyline. You might also like to visit an authentic Turkish bath, where attendants will pummel your body as though it was a lump of meat and walk over your back as a form of massage!