Istanbul is the only city in the world that has a foot in two continents. Its old city is situated in Europe while it’s more modern sections are located within Asia. These two very distinct parts of Istanbul are separated by the strait of Bosphorus. Due to its strategic location, Istanbul also served as an important centre of trade through the ages and the city continues to be an important center for finance and culture in Turkey until today.
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1. The Blue Mosque is located in the main historical district of the city, an area called Sultanamet. This multi domed mosque is the prime exponent of Istanbul’s Islamic past. Built during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, the Blue mosque welcomes hundreds of worshippers every day into its elaborately decorated interiors. The mosque is called the ‘Blue mosque’ because it is decorated with hundreds of blue and white tiles which are arranged in intricate and exquisite floral patterns.
2. Hagia Sophia, the ochre colored domed monument served as a church during the Christian Byzantine empire and then as a mosque during the Islamic Ottoman empire and is perhaps the best symbol of this exciting city which was the centre of three great empires. The interiors are adorned with elaborate Islamic calligraphic roundels as well as Christian mosaics which represent the religious contrast of this monument most effectively.
3. Topikapi Palace Museum is located on one of the hills that surround Istanbul. It once served as a residential palace of one of the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. The huge palace with its interconnecting courtyards, fountains, terraces, exquisitely designed rooms and elaborate gateways gives you an insight into the magnificently opulent lives of the fabulously wealthy Sultans of the Ottoman Empire.