No matter how you travel to Istanbul, your first view of the city will be impressive. It rises beside the blue waters of the Bosphorus (Bogazici in Turkish) and Golden Horn (Halic in Turkish) rivers into a dramatic skyline of domes and minarets. The innumerable mosques of Istanbul are of two kinds, those founded by members of the reigning dynasty, and those built by humbler persons. The royal mosques have more than one minaret, S. Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) and the Suleiman mosque (Suleymaniye Camii in Turkish) have four, the mosque of Ahmed (Sultan Ahmet Camii) has six.
Almost three thousand years old, it has been the heart of three world empires and each one has left its own particular mark on the landscape. Though no longer the capital of the Turkish Republic (Turkiye Cumhuriyeti in Turkish), Istanbul is still the most popular destination in Turkey for tourists and many tour operators offer short break holidays here, especially in winter.
Basically, Istanbul divides into two main areas which are further subdivided into several small districts. The European part of the city is divided by the Golden Horn and the European and Asian parts are separated by the Bosphorus Strait. The vast majority of the sights are on the southem bank of the Golden Horn.
Istanbul is a good centre for sightseers, as there is an infinite variety of places to visit - peaceful mosques, awe-inspiring palaces and frenzied bazaars. For sun-worshippers there are resorts and beaches along the Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea, and while here, all tourists should consider a trip to the legendary city of Troy (Truva in Turkish). Even if you plan to travel further into Anatolia (Anadolu in Turkish), take a few days to see some of the sights of this fascinating city and experience the unique atmosphere it offers.
Turkey is where Orient meets Occident, a crossroads for ideas, beliefs and cultures. This is expressed in the country's art, architecture, literature and music, from the ancient Hittite civilization through Roman, Byzantine (Bizans in Turkish) and Seljuk (Selcuklu in Turkish) influences to the mighty Ottoman empire (Osmanli Imparatorlugu in Turkish). The faces of its people reflect its diversity; modern day Turkey is a cultural amalgam wrought by history and its unique position between two cultures.