Travel guide to flights & holidays in Istanbul.
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Istanbul Holidays Overview
Istanbul is the financial and cultural centre of Turkey and its most populated city. It culturally and physically bridges Europe and Asia and is known for architecture, history and culture.
The Old City of Istanbul is where some of the best historical sites are located. Galata includes Taksim Square, Istiklal Street and Beyoglu with many accommodations and a vibrant nightlife scene. The New City is Istanbul's business district with many shopping malls. Bosphorus is home to several bohemian neighbourhoods, many parks, places and large mansions.
Hippodrome of Constantinople along with the Valens of Aqueduct are relatively intact and a major attraction in the Fatih District. Close to the Hippodrome is the Column of Constantine dating back to 330AD. The Monastery of Stoudios is the oldest Byzantine church in Istanbul built in the year 454. The fortresses of Rumelihisari and Anadoluhisari are the oldest examples of Ottoman architecture in the city. The most iconic landmark in Istanbul is the beautiful Hagia Sophia.
There are a number of modern art museums in Istanbul that give Istanbul a cosmopolitan feel like SantralIstanbul, Sakip Sabanci Museum, Pera Museum and Istanbul Modern. The older museums in the city remain the most popular and these include the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
The Grand Bazaar is the largest and the oldest covered markets in the world and has been operating in Istanbul since 1461. The Mahmutpasha Bazaar is the most important spice market in the city and an excellent place to visit.
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holidays - Top Places To Go
|1. Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)
|What is it? Famous for its impressive size, remarkable
architecture and beautiful mosaics and frescoes, the massive
ochre-coloured domed structure known as Hagia Sophia is one of
Istanbul's most popular attractions. It was commissioned as a
cathedral in the 6th century and remained the most important church
in Christianity for over 900 years. In the 15th century Mehmet II
conquered the city and converted it into a mosque, adding the
minarets and fountains. It functioned as such for the next 481
years until the founding of the secular Turkish Republic in 1934
when it was declared a museum. Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest
Byzantine buildings in the world, and the vast interior, with its
huge soaring dome, is extraordinary. The interior contains
different features from its time as a cathedral and then as a
mosque, including incredible Byzantine mosaics, icons and marble
columns, a mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca), and
Islamic calligraphy inscriptions on the dome from the Ottoman
Hours of Operation: Open daily except Mondays from 9.30am to
Phone:(212) 518 1802
|2. Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)
|What is it? The Sultan Ahmet Camii, commonly known as the
Blue Mosque, with its tiers of magnificent domes and six graceful
minarets is one of the most striking and immediately
distinguishable structures on the Istanbul's skyline. Constructed
as an Islamic rival to the Hagia Sophia in 1609, it is one of the
finest examples of Ottoman architecture and is still used by
hundreds of worshippers. The interior is splendidly decorated with
thousands of blue and white Iznik tiles embellished with
traditional Ottoman flower patterns, and it is this special feature
that gives the mosque its name. Its design of successively
descending smaller domes, soaring columns and 260 stained glass
windows leaves a lasting impression of graceful accord and open
space. At the back of the mosque is a Carpet and Kilim Museum
exhibiting antiques from all over Turkey.
Hours of Operation: Open daily, access restricted during prayer times,
especially at midday on Fridays. The museum is open from Tuesday to
Saturday between 9am and 4pm
Phone:(212) 518 1319 or (212) 518 1330 (for museum
|3. Topkapi Palace Museum
Topkapi Sarayi, Sultanahmet
|What is it? The Topkapi Sarayi, built by Mehmet the
Conqueror as a Sultan's Palace, consists of a sprawling collection
of buildings arranged around several interconnecting courtyards.
Magnificently situated on one of the seven hills of Istanbul with
uninterrupted views over the Bosphorus River and the Golden Horn,
it was the seat of the Ottoman Empire for almost four centuries.
Home to nearly 3,000 people, it served as royal residence, harem,
state administration and military barracks. One of the most popular
sections is the harem, once the quarters of about 300 women who
were the sultans' wives and concubines, and their children.
Visitors can view the apartments, halls and terraces of the harem,
and see the lavish royal bedchamber and Imperial Hall. No expense
was spared in decorating the palace and exquisitely designed rooms,
intricately detailed fountains and gateways, and the splendid
Treasury, housing one of the greatest collections of treasure in
the world, afford insight into the opulent lifestyle of the sultans
of the Ottoman Empire.
Hours of Operation: Open daily except Tuesdays from 9am to
Phone:(212) 512 0480
holidays - Top Events
|1. International Istanbul Music Festival
|What is it? One of the most prominent events on the
city's cultural calendar and one of the foremost musical events in
Europe, the International Istanbul Music Festival is a summer
extravaganza of opera, ballet, and classical and traditional music.
Over the years the festival has hosted world-renowned classical
performers and groups from around the globe as well as local
artists and traditional music groups, from international
philharmonic orchestras, distinguished chamber ensembles and
soloists, dance and ballet performances by notorious dance
companies, and Whirling Dervishes. Concerts are held in various
locations, including some of the historical buildings in
Where is it? Various
|2. Turkish F1 Grand Prix
|What is it? One of the newer tracks added to the Formula
One Season, Istanbul Park has been described as 'The greatest track
ever built', by Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula One
Administration. It is one of only three races that runs
anticlockwise (the Brazillian and San Marino Grand Prix being the
other two) and commands the respect of all the drivers. The track
is located 56 miles (90km) from the city
Where is it? Istanbul Park
|3. Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair
|What is it? Every October artists from all across Turkey
converge on the capital to showcase their latest creations in
contemporary art. A variety of paintings, sculpture and crafts are
displayed for exhibition purposes and also for sale. Admirers from
all across Turkey show up for the week to assess, purchase and
critique the latest offerings of a fascinating
Where is it? LutfiKýrdar Istanbul Convention and Exhibition