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Istanbul is one of the most amazing cities, having been the capital of two great empires, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) and the Ottoman, and was the largest and wealthiest city in the world for more than a thousand years. It has an incredible history, unmatched monuments and a speechless beauty.

Istanbul is where the largest church in the world existed for about 1,100 years. This is where the first cafe in the world was opened.. This is where the tulips originated.. where Mozart imagined when he composed his "Turkish March" and "Abduction from the Seraglio".. where Jason and the Argonauts sailed through.. where the largest covered marketplace in the world exists.. where the finest carpets and textiles in the world are made.. where the most delicious food is cooked.. where millions of Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in peace for centuries.. where magnificent palaces, mosques and churches decorate the hills and waterfront.. where Europe and Asia meet, being the only city in the world in two continents..  And this is where Ataturk gave his last breath leaving a grand legacy to the world..

"If the World was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital."
Napoleon Bonaparte   




Hagia Sophia is the supreme masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. Its spacious nave is covered by a lofty central dome carried on pendentives, a device not previously employed in monumental construction. It served as model for several of the great Turkish mosques of Constantinople.

Documents indicate that the first Hagia Sophia was built by Emperor Constantius, son of Emperor Constantinos I, and was opened for services in 360 AD.

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The Church of the Holy Savior of Chora, called in Turkish, Kariye Camii, is after Hagia Sophia the most interesting Byzantine church in the city. Not so much for the building itself, pretty as that is, as because of the superb series of mosaics and frescoes which it preserves and which have been magnificently restored and cleaned by the Byzantine Institute of America.

The mosaics and frescoes are by far the most important and extensive series of Byzantine paintings in the city and among the best and most beautiful in the world.

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The Basilica Cistern, also called the Yerebatan Sarayi or Yerebatan Sarnici, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that still lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey.

The cistern was built by Emperor Constantinus I during the 4th century and was restored and extended by Justinianus in the 6th century. The water came from the Belgrad forest via the Cebecikoy arch.

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Istanbul Archaeological Museum is one of the most important museums of its kind in the world. Founded as a museum during the Ottoman Period, then the imperial museum, the collection includes a number of findings from various parts of the Ottoman empire, including Mesopotamia, and in particular such monuments as the Alexander’s Tomb, the tomb of the Weeping Maidens and the Lycian Tomb found at Sayda in Syria in 1891.

Originally the museum collection was exhibited in the Çinili Pavilion, an annex of the Topkapi Museum now in use as the museum of faience and ceramics and dating to the period of Mehmed II. But as the collection grew, the present building was erected between 1892-1908, to which a later annex has been added in recent years.

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The site of the original Hippodrome, which extends away from the Sultanahmet mosque was laid out in 196 by the Roman emperor Severus. Constantine the Great turned it into a vast stadium capable of seating a hundred thousand spectators who watched horse and chariot races, gladiatorial combats, and other spectacles. The Hippodrome was where the heart of Constantinople's social life beat and also where popular displeasure was given voice and sometimes erupted into riots and rebellion.

Like other parts of the city, the Hippodrome was lavishly decorated with monuments and works of art of which only three examples from the Spina (the long structure running down the center of the stadium's course) have survived.

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The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (in Turkish Sultanahmet Camii, in English commonly called the Blue Mosque) is a mosque in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1453 to 1923. It is regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of Islamic architecture.

The mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 by order of the Sultan Ahmed I, after whom it is named. He is buried in the mosque's precincts. It is located in the oldest part of Istanbul, in what was before 1453 the centre of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. It is next to the site of the ancient Hippodrome of Constantinople, and a short distance from the great Christian Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia).

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The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı in Turkish) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets (Bazaar) in the world with more than 58 streets and 4000 shops. It is well-known for its jewelry, pottery, spice and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of good, with regions for leather coats, gold jewelry and the like.

The bazaar contains two bedestens, or domed masonry structures built for storage and safe keeping, the first of which was constructed in 1464 by the order of Mehmed II.

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971 meters of the originally more than 1-km aqueduct which carried water to Constantinople until the end of the 19th Century still stands today. At its highest point, the aqueduct reaches a height of 29 meters. Of this monument a great part (971 meters) is still preserved, but appears much lower than in the Roman and Byzantine times, since the surrounding ground level has risen up to 6 m.

The aqueduct transported water, which came from two different supply systems, over the little valley between the fourth and third hills of Constantinople. It was finally stored in a great reservoir: the famous underground "Basilica Cistern."

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The largest and most imposing mosque in Istanbul, the city of domes and minarets, is the Suleymaniye. The aesthetic supremacy of its interior and exterior and its perfect proportions have been captivating the visitors for centuries. The Suleymaniye Mosque is an architectural masterpiece.

The 16th century was the golden age of the Ottoman Empire. Suleyman the Magnificent, the longest reigning among the thirty-six Ottoman sultans, ruled for 47 years in this century.

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The Galata Tower (Turkish Galata Kulesi) is located in Istanbul in Turkey to the north of the Golden Horn. One of the city's most striking landmarks, it is a huge, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline on the Galata side of the Golden Horn.

The original tower was destroyed during the Fourth Crusade, but it was rebuilt as the Tower of Christ in 1348 during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople. It was the apex of the fortifications of Genoese Galata.

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The Dolmabahce Palace, a blend of various European architectural styles, was built between 1843-1856 by Karabet Balyan, the court architect of Sultan Abdulmecid. The Ottoman sultans had many palaces in all ages, but the Topkapi was the official residence until the completion of the Dolmabahce Palace.

The ballroom is the largest of its kind in the world. A 4.5 ton colossal crystal chandelier hangs from the 36 m high dome. The hall, which is used for important political meetings,receptions and balls, was previously heated by an oven-like system under the floor.

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The Spice Bazaar, aka. Egyptian Bazaar, the second largest covered market in the city, was part of the mosque complex. Other surviving parts of the complex are the tombs and the magnificent fountain. On the mosque side of the L-shaped Spice Bazaar, there is a popular flower market and cafes, and fish, vegetable and grocery stores occupy the other side.

It is one of the attractive sites in Istanbul with its vivacious and distinctive atmosphere.

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The architectural structure of the Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi) dates back to 341 BC. This cape, which was an extension of the Bosphorous straits at the time (there are rumours that it was a peninsula before) used to be called "vus".

At this date, after being a mausoleum built on marble columns for the wife of Commander Chares, a chain was pulled from its location at Sarayburnu to the island where the tower was located, in 410 BC.

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The Mosque and Mausoleum of Eyup Sultan, located outside the corner where the land walls meet the walls along the Golden Horn, is considered a sacred site for Muslims. Eyup-el-Ensari was a standard-bearer of Mohammed and he died here during an Arabic siege of the city in the 7th century. His grave was discovered after the conquest and later the mausoleum and the first mosque in Istanbul were built on this site.

The original mosque was destroyed in an earthquake and the present one was constructed in its place in 1800.

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The Princes' Islands (today Burgazada) are a chain of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul, Turkey, in the Sea of Marmara. The largest island is Büyükada.

During the Byzantine period, princes and other royalty were exiled on the islands, lending them their present name. During the 19th century the islands became a popular resort for Istanbul's wealthy, and Victorian-era cottages and houses are still preserved on the largest of the Prince's islands.

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Bosphorus is the strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara; 32km (20 miles) long, 650-3300m (720-3600 yards) wide, 30-120m (100-395ft) deep.

Bosphorus comes from a Tracian word of unknown origin, interpreted in Greek as meaning "Ford of the Cow", from the legend of Io, one of the many lovers of Zeus, who swam across the sea here as a cow chased and continuously disturbed by flies sent by Hera.

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The Walls of Constantinople surrounded the Roman and Byzantine city of Constantinople.

The original walls of the city were built in the 8th century BC when Byzantium was founded by Greek colonists from Megara. The final set of walls were built during Theodosius II, stretching almost seven kilometres from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara.

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Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal Avenue), is one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, Turkey. Located in the Beyoglu neighborhood of Istanbul, it is a gallant pedestrian street, approximately 3 km long, that houses tens of exquisite boutiques, music and bookstores, art galleries, cinemas, theaters, cafés, bars, libraries, pubs, coffeehouses, historical patisseries, chocolateries, technological centers, and restaurants, all of which are seamlessly integrated into the elegant 19th century Turkish architecture.

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Yıldız Palace became the fourth seat of Ottoman government in İstanbul, after Eski Saray (the Old Palace) which stood where İstanbul University is today, Topkapı Palace and Dolmabahçe Palace.

The section of Yıldız Palace named Şale (after the Swiss chalet which it was designed to resemble) is one of the most interesting examples of l9th century Ottoman architecture.

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Istanbul Lisesi (Istanbul High School), one of the oldest and most prestigious educational institutions in Turkey, was established in 1884.

As a state high school, Istanbul Lisesi admits students through the central state school examination. Admission to Istanbul Lisesi is extremely competitive with only 144 students enrolled each year from a pool of over 400,000 applicants, which makes it the most difficult to enter among all of the 400 special state secondary schools in the country.

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