The legendary Bosphorus of Europe and Asia flows right through the city, linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean and marking the boundary between East and West. Istanbul prospered during the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, the perfect capital in such a privileged location, with a brief interlude of Venetian rule in the 13th century. All left a colourful legacy but for many visitors, the top attraction remains the Topkapi Palace. Worshippers prostrate on donated carpets while the sun filters through 260 stained glass windows, lighting up some of the 20 000 blue tiles of the Blue Mosque. Shopping over, it’s good to stroll through the streets where more wonders, large and small, await on every corner. The Grand Bazaar offers over 4,000 shops jostle cheek by jowl in a grid of 60 streets or so. But the ultimate treat in Istanbul is sailing on the Bosphorus, gazing at myriad historical buildings on both sides of the strait.
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