Istanbul : The Fascinating Melting Point Where East Meets West

Istanbul : The Fascinating Melting Point Where East Meets West

Istanbul, this unique city is the meeting point for European and Asian culture creating a incredible mix of both traditions, culture and cuisine. Once known as Constantinople, an ancient capital of the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire and finally the Ottoman Empire. The famous Bosphorus Bridge runs through the middle of the city connecting the continents of Asia and Europe. The European section of Istanbul is called Thrace whereas the Asian section is known as Anatolia. Being located at the edge of two very different cultures had made this city a fascinating melting pot of culture and foods for hundreds of years.

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Istanbul : The Fascinating Melting Point Where East Meets West

1. Sultan Ahmad Mosque (Blue Mosque)

Photo by Orhan Nuri KULAHCIOGLU/

The Sultan Ahmad Mosque, also called the Blue Mosque should be high up your list of places to visit in this stunning city. First built by the famous architect Mohammed Al-Agha the mosque has one of the most beautiful domes in Istanbul. The structure of the Mosque is studded with gold decorations and inscriptions of Koranic verses. Its exterior design was borrowed from sacred mosque such as Mecca and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

2. Topkapi Palace

Photo by Miwok

This palace represents an important stage in the history of the Ottoman Empire, where it was often the center for important decisions. The Topkapi Palace is one of the largest palaces in Istanbul. It was a major center of the Ottoman Empire and a center for the establishment of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire for four centuries from 1465 to 1856 until the Dolma Baha Palace replaced it. The Topkapi Palace was built by order of Sultan Mehmet Al Fateh in the historic Sultan Ahmet district. It was enlarged and renewed throughout the ages until being converted into a museum after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

3. Dolmabahçe Palace

The Dolmabahçe Palace symbolizes the splendor and prosperity of the Ottoman Empire through its beautiful design and huge construction cost. It's located in the Besiktas region on the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. It was built by order of Sultan Abdulhamid I in 1843, combining the prevailing architectural styles of France, Germany, and Italy at that time.

4. Hagia Sophia

Another of Istanbul's most prominent landmarks, Hagia Sophia is one of the most beautiful historical monuments in the city. Once a Greek cathedral and then later an imperial mosque during the Ottoman empire, the building is now used as a museum. At its time of completion in AD 537, the Hagia Sophia was the largest structure in the world and is often credited with changing the history of architecture. Overlooking the Bosphorus and the Blue Mosque it also offers unparalleled views of the city.

5. İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri

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Istanbul's Arkeoloji Müzeleriis is a collection of three specialized museums with hundreds of thousands of rare artifacts and one of the largest museums in the world. Arkeoloji Müzeleriis is located in the Eminonu area next to Topkapi Palace and Gulhane Park in Istanbul. The three historical museums are: the Museum of Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient East and the Museum of Islamic Art. The museums contain more than a million artifacts from ancient times and civilizations from around the world.

6. The Egyptian market (Mısır Çarşısı)

Photo by shankar s.

The Egyptian market in Istanbul (Mısır Çarşısı), also known as the Spice Bazaar, is one of the most popular markets in Istanbul. It is located at the European end of the city in Aminonu, El Fateh. The market is full of spices from around the world, sweets, dried fruits, jewelry and souvenirs and has always been an important center for spice trade in Turkey. Roam around the crowded streets of the market taking in the sights and smells of fresh spices while bartering for anything that catches your eye.

7. The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is Istanbul's oldest and largest market and also one of the oldest markets in the world. The market was built during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Mohammed al-Fateh between 1451 and 1481 and has since been an important center for trade and commerce in the area. Strategically located at the center point between Europe and Asia, it attracted merchants from all corners of the world selling their wares and is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls in the world. The market is also called the roofed market because it is completely covered and contains windows that provide air and light from outside.

8. Gülhane Parkı

Photo by Krasimira Dicheva/

Gülhane Parkı is one of Istanbul's oldest and most beautiful gardens. It was once part of Topkapi Palace Park and now has gates in its southern part that lead to the palace. The garden is full of flowers and green spaces covered with herbs and trees, some of which date back to the 19th century. The park is often home to numerous species of wildlife and offers a welcome respite from the busy pace of the city.

9. Ortaköy Mosque

The Ortaköy Mosque (Ortaköy Camii) or the Mosque of Al-Majidiyah is characterized by its location overlooking the Bosphorus Strait. It is located in the Ortakoy district, a beautiful historical mosque in Istanbul. The mosque was built by order of Sultan Abdul Majeed in 1854 and was known as the Mosque of Al-Majidiyah. It was exposed to several disasters, including the earthquake that hit the country in 1894, which caused great destruction to some of its domes, which have been since restored.

10. İstanbul Akvaryum

İstanbul Akvaryum is the largest aquatic zoo in the Middle East and one of the largest zoos in Europe. It's also one of the largest wildlife parks in the world in terms of size, area, number of habitats, and marine creatures. The aquarium is located in the Floria area, close to the beach and Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport. Some of its ponds are large enough to contain large fish such as sharks; other small ponds contain a wide variety of marine fish.

◎ Closing

Located at the edge of Europe and Asia, Istanbul has characteristics from numerous cultures while creating a completely new style of its own. With some of the most stunning architecture in the world, a fascinating mix of food and culture and a long, enchanting history, a visit to this stunning metropolis will never disappoint.