About Istanbul

First settlement clues dating back to the 7th BC and excavated by archaeologists at the 21st century AD, which is indicate Istanbul settled earlier than previously thought and before the Bosphorus was even formed. Due to legend, the colony of Byzantium was found in 660 B.C. by a Megarian named Byzas which was named after him. Byzas chose the spot after consulting an oracle of Delphi who told him to settle across from the "land of the blind ones".

Greeks, Athenians, Persians, and Spartans fought over the city early on. Even the Gauls attacked Byzantium in the third century B. C. In 202 B. C. Byzantium, besieged by Macedonians, asked Rome for protection. By 73 B. C. the city had become part of a Roman province. In A. D. 196, Byzantium found itself on the wrong side of an internal Roman power struggle and paid dearly. Roman emperor Septimus Severus (146–211; r. 193–211) massacred its residents and destroyed most of the city. He rebuilt Byzantium, which continued to prosper despite serious attacks, civil wars, and rebellions that broke out in the Roman Empire over many decades.

During the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian (527–565), more than 500,000 people lived in Constantinople. Justinian oversaw the construction of some of the city's most spectacular buildings, including the Haghia Sophia. Under his rule, the city reached its zenith.

The town was attacked by Sassanians and Avars in 7th century, by Bulgarians and Arabs in 8th century and by Russians and Bulgarians in 9th century which were unsuccessful. Crusaders attacked and captured the town in 1204 and held as capital by the Latin Empire till 1261.

Finally, on 29 May 1453 after an eight-week siege, Sultan Mehmet II "the Conqueror" captured Constantinople and declared it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire.

After the fall of Constantinople, Mehmet II immediately set out to regenerate the city, by then also known as Istanbul. He urged the return of those who had fled the city during the siege, and forcibly resettled Muslims, Jews, and Christians from other parts of Anatolia. The sultan invited people from all over Europe to his capital, creating a cosmopolitan society that persisted through much of the Ottoman period. Meanwhile, Mehmet II repaired the city's damaged infrastructure, began to build the Grand Bazaar and constructed Topkapı Palace which was the sultan's official residence.

Following of the establishment of T.B.M.M. (Great National Assembly of Turkey) in Ankara on 23 April 1920, Mehmet VI the last Ottoman Sultan left the town. The town then was placed under the control of the T.B.M.M. Government and liberated from occupation (6 October 1923). Then it became the culture and art center of the republican period, which has been maintained up to date.

Main Historical Sites

Hippodrome : It is usually associated with Constantinople's days of glories as capital. You will be able to see the Obelisk from Temple of Karnak / Egypt, Serpentine Column from Delphi and fountain of Wilhelm II.

Blue Mosque : One of the biggest mosques of Istanbul which is constructed in 17th century. Architecture is one of the principal adornments on the skyline of Istanbul and it is also famous with its blue tiles and 6 minarets.

Topkapi Palace : The palace was former imperial residence for 400 years from where the Great Ottoman Empire was ruled. Today the palace includes many amazing examples of Ottoman Architecture. It contains very large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, as well as a display of Ottoman treasures and jewelry.

Dolmabahce Palace : The palace was constructed between 1843-1856 and served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire for 66 years. Its very famous with its Hereke Palace Carpets which are produced by Hereke Imperial Factory.

St. Sophia : The magnificent Byzantine Church which is known as Hagia Sophia nowadays or "Magna Ecclesia" (Great Church) in 4th century is one of the finest and greatest surviving examples and architectural works of art in the world.

Suleymaniye Mosque : The mosque of Sultan Suleyman "The Magnificent" built in the 16th century by Mimar Sinan, who is the most famous architect of all times.

Grand Bazaar : The bazaar is the largest and oldest bazaar on the world with its 61 covered streets and approx. 3000 shops which has almost 350.000 daily visitors.

Spice Bazaar : (or known as Egyptian Bazaar), is the second biggest covered bazaar after Grand Bazaar. Lots of shops are selling fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, mystical tastes and smelss with different aromas of various spices.

Beylerbeyi Palace, which is the last residence for Ottoman Sultans with 365 rooms and 22 saloons, famous with the great collection of European antiquity, furniture and 4.5 tons chandelier.

Camlica Hill : The best point of view of panorama of Istanbul and Bosphorus.

Shore Excursions Istanbul
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