Turkey is a unique geography. It is a bridge connecting not only East and West, but also the past and the future. İstanbul, the country’s cultural capital, has been an attractive settlement for various civilizations since ancient times. Today the city is visited each year by millions of travelers who come to catch a glimpse of its ancient city walls, enchanted churches, palaces and mosques, while savoring the delightful tastes of the citys rich cuisine. İstanbul offers an unforgettable experience with its colorful daily life and dynamic nightlife. It is also an attractive destination for international meetings with its world class accommodation and convention facilities. İstanbul, Dersaadet, Konstantiniye, Byzantion. The many names of this city is a refl ection of its many faces. As the only city in the world situated on two continents -Asia and Europe- İstanbul has proved an attractive settlement for various civilizations since ancient times. Thanks to its rich history, colorful daily life and dynamic spirit, İstanbul continues to offer a once in a lifetime experience to its visitors. The largest city in modern Turkey, İstanbuls cultural diversity, state of the art accommodation alternatives, unique blend of modern and traditional dining and entertainment options and stunningly rich history makes the 2010 European Capital of Culture an ideal destination for business organizations and leisure trips.
As the former capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, present day İstanbul retains the history that emerged form the city and integrates its historical values to the modern life. Sultanahmet, located at the center of the historic peninsula, is where most of the İstanbuls famous historical sights are located. Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are both situated in this dynamic part of the city. A few hundred meters away is the world famous Grand Bazaar, which for the past six centuries has been a center for the trading of gold and authentic Turkish produce. The nearby Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) is a breathtaking venue for banquets and special events. No visit to İstanbul is complete without crossing the beautiful Golden Horn the natural harbor opening to the Bosphorus- and relaxing on the green parks that stretch along the shore to enjoy magnificent sunsets. With their mixed Turkish, Greek and Jewish quarters, Eyüp, Fener and Balat are ideal for those who feel in the mood for a little time travel. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which administers 85 churches, stands in the Fener district. North of the historic peninsula, across the Golden Horn, is Galata, crowned by the Galata tower. Galata, Beyoğlu and the İstiklal Street accommodate much of the citys nightlife venues. On the nearby front of Karaköy, you can fi nd İstanbul Modern, a museum with exhibitions of contemporary Turkish art.
The Heart of the City: Beyoglu
Beyoğlu, İstanbuls culture and entertainment center, has always been a meeting point for cultures and peoples. The multiculturalism of this vibrant district is abundantly refl ected in architecture, daily life and culinary culture. İstiklal Street is the heart of this large district full of cinemas, theaters, restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs and almost every visitor to İstanbul is attracted by the bright lights of the Street. North of the Taksim Square is the newer part of the city. High skyscrapers rise from Levent and Maslak, the main business districts, reflecting a different skyline from the old city. Moving forward to Kurtuluş, Osmanbey and Nişantaşı with neoclassical and Art Nouveau buildings, time starts to fl ow backwards. However modern cafes and shops are just around the corner to surprise you.
The Spectacular Bosphorus
The Bosphorus, separating Asia and Europe, is the ultimate treasure and beauty of İstanbul, where the city breathes. Both banks of the Bosphorus are decorated by characteristic, wooden waterside mansions, symbols of the old tradition of large, wealthy families residing on the Bosphorus shores. Fishing dominates life on the Bosphorus thanks to the fertile sea that brings shoals of fresh fi sh daily and on every shore of the Bosphorus are restaurants serving delicious seafood. North of Beşiktaş you arrive at Ortaköy, whose cafés, restaurants and bars are enjoyable day or night. The districts beyond Ortaköy on the European side of the Bosphorus all have great natural beauty and places of entertainment: Kuruçeşme, Arnavutköy, Bebek, Rumelihisarı, Baltalimanı, Emirgan, İstinye, Yeniköy, Tarabya, Kireçburnu, Büyükdere, Sarıyer and Rumelifeneri are all charming districts.