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Istanbul Top Destinations - Best Places and Tourist Attractions to Visit in Istanbul Turkey
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Istanbul Vacation and Travel Guide
Istanbul historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural, and historic center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosphorus strait (which separates Europe and Asia) between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.
Considered a global city, Istanbul has one of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies in the world. More than 12 million foreign visitors arrived in Istanbul each year. In 2015 it was named a European Capital of Culture, making the city the world's fifth most popular tourist destination. The city's biggest attraction is its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its cultural and entertainment hub can be found across the city's natural harbor, the Golden Horn, in the Beyoğlu district. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives on the Asian side. The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (coterminous with Istanbul Province.
Tourism in Turkey is focused largely on a variety of historical sites, and on seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean Sea coasts. Turkey has also become a popular destination for culture, spa, and health care tourism.
Tourism in Istanbul
Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots not only in Turkey but also in the world. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist-oriented industries in the city, catering to both vacationers and visiting professionals.
Istanbul, has a number of major attractions derived from its historical status as capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. These include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the "Blue Mosque"), the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Tower, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, and the Pera Palace Hotel. Other attractions include sporting events, museums, and cultural events.
Istanbul has also recently become one of the biggest shopping centers of the European region by hosting malls and shopping centers, such as Metrocity, Akmerkez and Cevahir Mall, which is the biggest mall in Europe and seventh largest shopping center in the world. The Grand Bazaar, in operation since 1461, is among the world's oldest and largest covered markets. Mahmutpasha Bazaar is an open-air market extending between the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar, which has been Istanbul's major spice market since 1660. Among the newest malls which include the stores of the world's top fashion brands. Abdi İpekçi Street in Nişantaşı and Bağdat Avenue on the Anatolian side of the city have evolved into high-end shopping districts.
The Fatih district, which was named after Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (Turkish: Fatih Sultan Mehmed), today is the capital district and called the historic peninsula of Istanbul located on the southern shore of the Golden Horn, across the medieval Genoese citadel of Galata on the northern shore. Dolmabahçe Palace, the seat of government during the late Ottoman period, is located in the Beşiktaş district on the European shore of the Bosphorus strait, to the north of Beyoğlu. The Sublime Porte (Bâb-ı Âli), which became a metonym for the Ottoman government, was originally used to describe the Imperial Gate (Bâb-ı Hümâyûn) at the outermost courtyard of the Topkapı Palace. The former village of Ortaköy is situated within Beşiktaş and gives its name to the Ortaköy Mosque on the Bosphorus, near the Bosphorus Bridge. Lining both the European and Asian shores of the Bosphorus are the historic yalıs, luxurious chalet mansions built by Ottoman aristocrats and elites as summer homes. Farther inland, outside the city's inner ring road, are Levent and Maslak, Istanbul's main business districts.
Istanbul does not have a primary urban park, but it has several green areas. Gülhane Park and Yıldız Park were originally included within the grounds of two of Istanbul's palaces Topkapı Palace and Yıldız Palace, they were repurposed as public parks in the early decades of the Turkish Republic. Another park, Fethi Paşa Korusu, is situated on a hillside adjacent to the Bosphorus Bridge in Anatolia, opposite Yıldız Palace in Europe. Along the European side, and close to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, is Emirgan Park, which was known as the Kyparades (Cypress Forest) during the Byzantine period.
The Patriarch of Constantinople has been designated Ecumenical Patriarch since the sixth century, and has subsequently come to be widely regarded as the leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians. Since 1601, the Patriarchate has been based in Istanbul's Church of St. George. Into the 19th century, the Christians of Istanbul tended to be either Greek Orthodox or members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The headquarters of the Turkish Orthodox Church are located in the city.
Istanbul is famous for its historic seafood restaurants. Many of the city's most popular and upscale seafood restaurants line the shores of the Bosphorus (particularly in neighborhoods like Ortaköy, Bebek, Arnavutköy, Yeniköy, Beylerbeyi and Çengelköy). Kumkapı along the Sea of Marmara has a pedestrian zone that hosts around fifty fish restaurants. The Prince Islands, 9 miles from the city center, are also popular for their seafood restaurants. Because of their restaurants, historic summer mansions, and tranquil, car-free streets, the Prince Islands are a popular vacation destination among Istanbulites and foreign tourists. Istanbul is also famous for its sophisticated and elaborately-cooked dishes of the Ottoman cuisine.
Istanbul is famous for its nightlife, as well as its historic taverns, a signature characteristic of the city for centuries if not millennia. Along the İstiklal Avenue is the Çiçek Pasajı, now home to winehouses (known as meyhanes), pubs, and restaurants. İstiklal Avenue, originally famous for its taverns, has shifted toward shopping, but the nearby Nevizade Street is still lined with winehouses and pubs. Some other neighborhoods around İstiklal Avenue have recently been revamped to cater to Beyoğlu's nightlife, with formerly commercial streets now lined with pubs, cafes, and restaurants playing live music. Other focal points for Istanbul's nightlife include Nişantaşı, Ortaköy, Bebek, and Kadıköy.
Other Tourist Destinations in Turkey include Beach vacations and Blue Cruises, particularly for Turkish delights and visitors from Western Europe. Most beach resorts are located along the southwestern and southern coast, called the Turkish Riviera, especially along the Mediterranean coast near Antalya. Major resort towns include Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Kuşadası, Çeşme, Didim and Alanya.
Lots of cultural attractions elsewhere in the country include the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, House of the Virgin Mary, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Trabzon (where one of the oldest monasteries is the Sümela Monastery), Konya (where the poet Rumi had spent most of his life), Didyma, Church of Antioch, ancient pontic capital and king rock tombs with its acropolis in Amasya, religious places in Mardin (such as Deyrülzafarân Monastery), and the ruined cities and landscapes of Cappadocia.
If you are planning to travel to Istanbul, whether for business or tourism, in addition to the passport and visa, we recommend you to check the following information: International Airports, Airport security rules, Type of luggage allowed and weight limits, Most visited cities, Driving in Istanbul, Electricity, Time Stripes, Business Hours, National Holidays, Weights and Measures, Commercial Practices and Etiquette Rules.
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Istanbul has two international airports. Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IATA: IST, ICAO: LTBA) is the main international airport serving Istanbul, and the biggest airport in Turkey by total number of passengers. It is on the European side of the city, located 15 miles west of the city centre and serves as the main hub for Turkish Airlines.
The city's other, smaller, international airport is Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (IATA: SAW, ICAO: LTFJ) its destinations are served from Istanbul-Atatürk, making it the airport with the second-most destinations worldwide after Frankfurt Airport. Located 22 miles southeast of central Istanbul, Sabiha Gökçen on the Asian side of the bi-continental city and serves as the hub for Pegasus Airlines as well as a base for Turkish Airlines and Borajet.
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