Istanbul is truly a world city, a city everyone should visit at least once in his or her lifetime. It is an enchanting blend of Eastern and Western culture, a vibrant, modern city with a unique identity. Its rich past coexists alongside its youthful exuberance.
First as Byzantium, then Constantinople and finally, Istanbul, it has been the capital of three Empires, each leaving their mark in the form of stunning palaces, castles, mosques, churches and monuments.
Although no longer the capital of Turkey, Istanbul still remains the country's cultural and business centre. It is set in a stunning location, surrounded by water. The Sea of Marmara flows into the narrow strait of the Bosporus, which cuts the city in half, separating Europe from Asia. The Bosporus has two magnificent bridges, spanning the continents, the first of which was opened in 1973 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Republic.
The European side is also divided in two. The Golden Horn or Haliç roughly divides the historic part of old Istanbul, encompassing the areas of, Sultanahmet and Laleli, from the modern city, which spreads out around Taksim Square. It is crossed by a number of bridges, the most famous of which is the pontoon, the Galata Bridge. Most visitors on short city breaks stay in the old town as the vast majority of the sites that they will be visiting are in this area.
Istanbul's most famous sites - The Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia), Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) and the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) - are all within a 30-minute walk of each other.
ODS Turkey is delighted to introduce you to Istanbul – a must-see in itself and the passageway to the rest of Turkey.