Istanbul was once known as Constantinople. The city stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and is the meeting place of East and West. Before becoming a modern day Istanbul, it was the capital of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
The city of Istanbul is a contradiction of old and new, the modern and the ancient. Here are some attractions that are perfect examples of that:
Emperor Justinian built The Hagia Sophia as named in English in 537 B.C. Until the Conquest of 1453, it reigned as one of the most celebrated churches in the world. Mehmet the Conqueror converted it to a mosque and founder of modern day Turkey, Ataturk, changed it to a museum. When Justinian entered the church for the first time, he said, “Glory to God that I have been judged worthy of such a work. Oh Solomon! I have outdone you!”
Topkapi Palace is one of the most beautiful and famous palaces in the world. It was home to “Selmin the Sot,” who had the sad misfortune of drowning after a night of drinking. Among the other residents of the Palace is “Ibriham the mad,” who went mad after being in prison for twenty-two years. It is a beautiful palace and well worth the time.
The Grand Bazaar, unequaled anywhere in the world, including the famous bazaar of Cairo and that is saying a lot. It is easy to get lost in this maze of shops. One can find almost anything one wants in this famous shopping paradise. Try to remember the turns one makes!
Blue Mosque is probably the most prominent landmark of Istanbul, seen on most posters of this famous city. Sultan Ahmet built the magnificent mosque out of thousands of blue tiles, which gives it the name and color. It has 260 windows, which provide much of the light.
Suleymaniye Mosque built by the greatest Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleymaniye the Magnificent. His Empire stretched over much of the known world, including Palestine and modern day Israel.