As an imperial capital for over 1500 years, Istanbul has long been the place where east and west merge. The city spans across the continents of Europe and Asia, making the culture of Istanbul entirely unique. It is a melting pot with tons of beautiful architecture and a myriad of options to explore.
The architecture in Istanbul is some of the best and there are many ways to experience it. On the top of every adventurer’s list should be the Hagia Sophia, known as the 8 th wonder of the world. Until 1520, the Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world and is a marvel to this day. In fact, many of the worship centers in Istanbul are magnificent architectural sites. The Blue Mosque, for example, is dazzling inside and out. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has walls that are covered with over 20,000 hand-painted blue tiles that reflect the light from the 200-plus windows. Topkapi Palace is known for its architectural detail that leaves it ripe with things to discover.
As visitors head into the city they’ll have a chance to explore many facets of the city’s culture; specifically, the cuisine stands out as a key wonder of Istanbul. Local traditional foods, such as balik ekmek and muhammara, make a foodie tour of the city a one of a kind experience. But the best place to find the rich combination of food and culture is the Grand Bazaar. This covered market is one of the oldest and largest in the world and is filled with thousands of shops that sell a variety of objects from food to household goods and everything in between. The spice market in the Bazaar is intoxicating.
Finally, no trip to Istanbul is complete without a traditional boat ride down the Bosphorus. This 20-mile long straight directly divides the European and Asian sections of the city. From the boat, passengers will be able to view and visit both continents at once and experience the stunning sights of the city from a new perspective.
Thanks to 1500 years of life as a bustling city, Istanbul has grown into a unique destination. It is one of the marquis ports on Eastern Mediterranean cruises.