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Istanbul - Part 1 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

Istanbul, just the name conjures up a mystical city. Gilded domes, glittering minarets, aristocratic pavilions and sultans’ palaces rise amidst a vibrant metropolis. An intoxicating fusion of warm spices and Middle Eastern flavours scent the air of an outstanding, contemporary culture, alive with all the bustling background notes of a 21st-century city.

Magnificently Turkish, it’s the only destination on the planet whose footprint spreads across two continents. One embellished slipper firmly planted in Asia, the other testing the cooler waters of Europe. The two parts separated by the majestic Bosphorus, seemingly a narrow strait yet a great slice of ocean flowing through the centre of this throbbing, colourful city. Split between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is teeming with history, diversity and culture.

This impressive central waterway never fails to thrill with its ever changing panorama of passing ships. These range from working oil tankers, grimy tramp steamers and fishing caïques to gleaming yachts, gin palaces, flashy motor launches and slick ocean liners. The mercurial mood of the Bosphorus remains a constant backdrop to the magic of Istanbul. When night falls and the crescent moon hangs with the stars over the water, the party begins.

Once a major destination on the ancient Silk Road, the Turkish city has been influenced by many of the great civilisations including the Greeks, the Romans, the Venetians and, of course, the Ottomans.

The magical waters of the Bosphorus divides the city between the romantic ideals of Europe and the intoxicating hubbub of Asia. Along these shimmering shores mighty empires have risen and fallen, palaces have crumbled, myths born and voyages begun. With so much to see, where do you begin?

Well, the first place most people go to is the Topkapi Palace as this is a typical tourist stop, but also the cultural symbol of imperial Istanbul. Built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1459, Topkapi Palace showcases the heart and pride of the historic Turkish empires. The sultan’s harem, royal gardens, peeling frescoes, religious relics and tiled mosaics are all breathtaking in the context of their own historic beauty. The glittering jewel house is a must see while on any visit here.

The Istanbul Modern is the contemporary art museum, set in a stylishly restored warehouse in the old dock district of Tophane. Check out the permanent exhibitions, conceptual installations, cinema, art library and photographic exhibitions that chronicle the changing face of a diversely enchanting Istanbul. There’s also a splendid restaurant with a terrace on the Bosphorus offering an astounding view of the city.

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