Historically known as Constantinople and formerly the capital of the Byzantium and Ottoman empires, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and the pivotal meeting point between continents. Here you can literally spend the morning in Europe and the afternoon in Asia – a mere ride on the ferry separates the two. The former imperial capital, which once housed consecutive Christian and Islamic empires, now delivers a heady mix of the old and new in a modern European city that celebrates glorious relics from the past.
Exploring everything Istanbul has to offer is almost impossible but there are several architectural and historical highlights newcomers won’t want to miss.
Things to do in Istanbul
The cultural heritage of Istanbul and its location make the city an interesting place to visit and have provided it with a range of places to see and things to do. Of note are the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Hagia Sophia Mosque and Topkapı Palace.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque
This historic mosque — also known as the Blue Mosque — is a popular site for tourists to visit and was built during the reign of Ahmed I. The küllieye — a complex of buildings associated with Ottoman architecture centred on a mosque — houses the late 17th century sultan’s tomb. This architecture is impressive, to say the least, since the building sports five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes
Next to the Blue Mosque is another impressive religious building: the Hagia Sofia. This cathedral was built in the 6th century, back in the days when Istanbul was called Constantinople, and was done so under the rule of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It took only six years to build. The cathedral is not just considered the most important Byzantine structure, but also one of the world’s greatest monuments.
Construction of the Topkapı Palace started just a few years after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. The building work came to an end in 1478 and the result is the fabulous feat of architecture we see in the present day. The palace became a museum in 1924 after the establishment of the Republic of Turkey and is the republic’s first museum.
Business in Istanbul
The Istanbul Ataturk Airport is approximately 13.5 miles from the city centre and can take around 45 minutes to reach by car, so make sure you leave plenty of time to get to or from the airport if you have flights to catch.
There are several business districts in Istanbul, with Levent and Maslak being two of the main ones. Levent is located at the western shore of the Bosphorus Strait. Since it’s close to the waterfront, this business district is particularly handy if your business involves importing or exporting goods. The second of the two districts, Maslak, is located more towards the European side of the city. This district is constantly in competition with Levent for skyscraper projects.
Rotana offers a range of accommodation in Istanbul. Check out different hotels and resorts in the city and get the best out of your visit to Istanbul.