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A city where all cultures come together, a city that for centuries belonged to the largest and most impressive cities in the world, a city with fashionable men and trendy women, and certainly a city you must have visited: Istanbul!

This place is really flourishing in a special atmosphere and that's because the city lies on the border between Asia and Europe. The city is divided into two sides: the European and Asian side. What's separating these two parts are the Bosphorus River and a long bridge. Furthermore, the metropolis is divided into several districts, all of which have a completely different atmosphere. Perhaps that's what gives the city its mystical atmosphere, making your city trip really worthwhile!

The biggest tourist attraction is the Sultanahmet district, where the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque are the three biggest tourist attractions of the city. This immediately makes the area more touristic and expensive than the rest of the city. Nearby you also have the Grand Bazaar, which is a huge complex of halls and stalls where you can buy everything you can imagine.

Beyoglu was for centuries the residential area for foreigners, like Jews, Spaniards, Arabs and Greeks. Now it's a place where artists, musicians and other creative people in the city live. The heart of this neighbourhood is the street Istiklal Caddes, which is only accessible to pedestrians. Here you will find trendy jazz bars, music stores, cinemas and great restaurants!
A bit further, there's Taksim Square where many young people meet, making it also the main entertainment area. We also recommend Ortaköy, which is a small village in Istanbul at the river . It has a "Parisian atmosphere" and there are many art stalls and restaurants.
It's really a delightful experience to wander in a maze of little streets, to nibble on sweet baklava or on fresh caught fish, after which you make a boat trip on the Bosphorus with the sunset in the background. Life is good in Istanbul!

History

"If the whole world was a state, Istanbul would be the capital of it." These were the exact words of Napoleon Bonaparte and this gives you an idea of Istanbul's importance.

The city, originally called Byzantium, got this world leading role in 330 AD, while it was the Roman Empire's capital. The name changed into Constantinople, according to emperor Constantine in that time. In 395 AD, after the separation of the Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, later known as the Byzantine Empire. Throughout the years, it changed its name into Istanbul, which means 'to the city' in Greek. But the name was only made official in the 20th century.

In 1453, the city was conquered by Sultan Mehmed, who turned the city into the Ottoman Empire's capital. What's more, it was transformed from an orthodox and catholic city into an Islamic one. The Ottoman conquest gave it a huge boost. As well economically as cultural, the city prospered once again, after centuries of decay. It goes without saying that the Ottoman Empire was the most powerful empire in that time, which made Istanbul the most powerful city in the world.

The city gained a lot of respect and admiration in the centuries to come, as Napoleon's quote already suggested. The city and the Ottoman Empire did pass their golden age in the 19th century, and after the First World War and the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Istanbul's glory vanished from our minds. Nevertheless, the city started flourishing again in the last decades and it regained a bit of its ancient glory. If you wander through the streets, you can't but confirm that it's a city of world importance, and who knows, one day it might become the world's capital once again.