Where Two Continents Meet
Istanbul the magical city where east meets west in perfect harmony, bridging Europe and Asia, a melting pot of over 15 million people where traditions, culture and cuisine intertwine making it one of the worlds top destinations to visit.
Istanbul is one of the largest cities in the world Straddling over two Continents. Each district has it’s own atmosphere and offers it visitors something unique. To get a good feel for the city, we recommend that with each visit you see at least three or four of the different areas on your trip. This magical meeting place of East and West has more top-drawer attractions than it has minarets (and that’s a lot).
The Bosphorus Strait is the thin staight that bisects Istanbul and splits the continents of European and Asian apart.
İstanbul’s strategic location has attracted many rulers over the centuries. The Greeks, Romans and Venetians took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay – physical reminders of their various tenures are found across the city. The fact that the city straddles two continents wasn’t its only drawcard – it was the final stage on the legendary Silk Road linking Asia with Europe, and many merchants who came here liked it so much that they, too, decided to stay. In so doing, they gave the city a cultural diversity that it retains to this day.
Some ancient cities are the sum of their monuments, but İstanbul factors a lot more into the equation. Chief among its manifold attractions are the locals, who have an infectious love of life and generosity of spirit. This vibrant, inclusive and expanding community is full of people who work and party hard, treasure family and friendships, and have no problem melding tradition and modernity in their everyday lives. Joining them in their favourite haunts – çay bahçesis (tea gardens, kahvehans (coffeehouses), and kebapçıs (kebap restaurants) – will be the highlight of your visit.
Art & Architecture
The conquering armies of ancient times tended to ransack the city rather than endow it with artistic treasures, but all that changed with the Byzantines, who adorned their churches and palaces with mosaics and frescoes. Miraculously, many of these remain. Their successors, the Ottomans, were quick to launch an ambitious building program and the magnificently decorated imperial mosques that resulted are architectural triumphs that together form one of the world’s great skylines. In recent years, dynasties have reprised the Ottomans’ grand ambitions and endowed an impressive array of galleries, museums and festivals for all to enjoy.
‘But what about the food?’ we hear you say. We’re happy to report that the city’s cuisine is as diverse as its heritage, and delicious. Locals take their eating and drinking seriously – the restaurants here are the best in the country. You can eat aromatic Asian dishes or Italian classics if you so choose, but most visitors prefer to sample the succulent kebaps, flavoursome mezes and freshly caught fish that are the city’s signature dishes.