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Travel guide to flights & holidays in Istanbul.


Istanbul Holidays & Travel Guide

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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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Istanbul holidays - Top Places To Go

1. Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)
Sultanahmet Square
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 period. Hours of Operation: Open daily except Mondays from 9.30am to 4.30pm Phone:(212) 518 1802



2. Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)
Hippodrome, Sultanahmet
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 information)



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 5pm Phone:(212) 512 0480



Istanbul holidays - Top Events


1. International Istanbul Music Festival

From 2007-06-07

To 2007-06-26

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 Istanbul. 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 centre. Where is it? Istanbul Park



3. Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair

From 2007-10-20

To 2007-10-24

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 culture. Where is it? LutfiKýrdar Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Centre




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About This Page

Information on Istanbul Holidays, Istanbul Hotels, Holiday Packages in Istanbul (city breaks, short stays, all inclusive and luxury deals). Also provides links and resources to Air Travel, Flights and Istanbul Car Hire Options

Holidays Travel Guide content part sourced rom, copyright © Globe Media Ltd. By its very nature much of the information contained in the travel guide is subject to change at short notice. Travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevent authorities. We cannot accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to a person as result of information contained above.