Aerial view of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque, foreground) and Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
It is a city of mystery, a city of wonders, and a city whose history is unlike any other. Istanbul, once known as Byzantium, then renamed Constantinople, is one of the most significant cities in history, having served as the capital of three empires. The city is filled with outstanding examples of architecture built while it was under Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule. There are reminders around every corner of the city’s historic role over the centuries, including Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar, among many others.
Once a major stop along the Silk Road, Istanbul’s historic center is now a UNESCO Heritage site. As new discoveries are made and evidence of the quotidien lives of long-ago city dwellers is uncovered, Istanbul’s past continues to captivate us.
Serif Yenen, a travel specialist, and author, highlights some of the iconic places to visit as well as sites still waiting to be discovered by travelers to this storied city.