Destination Guides Turkey.


Istanbul (historically Byzantium and later Constantinople; see the other names of Istanbul) is Europes most populous city (the worlds 4th largest city proper and 20th largest urban area) and Turkeys cultural and financial center. The city covers 27 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents. In its long history, Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.


The Topkapi Palace (Turkish: Topkapi Sarayi) is a palace in Istanbul, Turkey, which was the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans, from 1465 to 1853. The palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments and is a major tourist attraction today. The name directly translates as "Cannongate Palace", from the palace being named after a nearby gate. Initial construction started in 1459, ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. The palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At the height of its existence as a royal residence, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people, formerly covering a larger area with a long shoreline. The complex has been expanded over the centuries, with many renovations such as for the 1509 earthquake and 1665 fire. Topkapı Palace gradually lost its importance at the end of the 17th century, as the Sultans preferred to spend more time in their new palaces along the Bosporus. In 1853, Sultan Abdül Mecid I decided to move the court to the newly built Dolmabahçe Palace, the first European-style palace in the city. Some functions, such as the imperial treasury, the library, mosque and mint, were retained though. After the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1921, Topkapi Palace was transformed by government decree on April 3, 1924 into a museum of the imperial era. The Topkapı Palace Museum is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public today. The complex is guarded by officials of the ministry as well as armed guards of the Turkish military. The palace is full of examples of Ottoman architecture and also contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasure and jewelry.

Yerebatan Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern (Turkish: "Yerebatan Sarayi" or "Yerebatan Sarnıcı"), is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that still lie beneath the city of Istanbul, former Constantinople, Turkey. The cistern, located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul next to the Hagia Sophia, was built during the reign of emperor Justinian I in the 6th century, the age of glory of Eastern Rome, also called the Byzantine Empire.

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar (or Covered Bazaar, Turkish: Kapalicarsi ("Covered Bazaar")) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 58 streets and 6,000 shops, and has between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather coats, gold jewelry and the like. The bazaar contains two bedestens (domed masonry structures built for storage and safe keeping), the first of which was constructed between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The bazaar was vastly enlarged in the 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and in 1894 underwent a major restoration following an earthquake.

Maidens Tower

Maidens Tower (Turkish: Kİz Kulesi), also known in the ancient Greek and medieval Byzantine periods as Leanders Tower (Tower of Leandros), sits on a small islet located in the Bosphorus strait off the coast of Uskudar in Istanbul, Turkey.

Blue Mosque

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultanahmet Camii) is a historical mosque in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the capital of the Ottoman Empire (from 1453 to 1923). The mosque is one of several mosques known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque has become one of the greatest tourist attractions of Istanbul.


A caravanserai (Persian: كاروانسرا karvansara, Turkish kervansaray) was a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the days journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia, North Africa, and South-Eastern Europe. Most typically it was a building with a square or rectangular walled exterior, with a single portal wide enough to permit large or heavily laden beasts such as camels to enter. The courtyard was almost always open to the sky, and the inside walls of the enclosure were outfitted with a number of identical stalls, bays, niches, or chambers to accommodate merchants and their servants, animals, and merchandise. Caravanserais provided water for human and animal consumption, washing, and ritual ablutions. Sometimes they even had elaborate baths. They also kept fodder for animals and had shops for travellers where they could acquire new supplies. In addition, there could be shops where merchants could dispose of some of their goods. The word is also rendered as caravansarai or caravansary. The Persian word karvansara is a compound word combining karvansara (caravan) with sara (palace, building with enclosed courts), to which the Persian suffix -yi is added. Here caravan means a group of traders, pilgrims, or other travelers, engaged in long distance travel. The caravanserai was also known as a khan (Persian خان) or han (Turkish).


The Silk Road, or Silk Route, refers to a trade route through regions of the Asian continent connecting East and West Asia. Geographically, it is an interconnected society of ancient trade routes connecting Chang an (todays Xi an) to Europe and the Near East. It was central to cultural transmission by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads and urban dwellers from China to the Mediterranean Sea for thousands of years. The route enabled people to transport trade goods, especially luxuries such as silk, satins, musk, rubies, diamonds, pearls and rhubarb from different parts of the country in China, India, and Asia Minor to the Mediterranean, extending over 8,000 km (5,000 miles). Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of China, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, India, Rome, and Byzantium and helped to lay the foundations for the modern world in several respects. Although the term, the Silk Road, implies a continuous journey, very few travelers traveled the route from end to end. For the most part, goods were transported by a series of agents on varying routes and trade took place in the bustling mercantile markets of the oasis towns. The Central Asian part of the trade route was initiated around 114 BC by the Han Dynasty[3] largely through the missions and explorations of Zhang Qian although earlier trade across the continents had already existed. In the late Middle Ages, use of the Silk Road declined as sea trade increased.