Istanbul Legendary City on Bosphorus
Poised at the meeting point of Asia and Europe on …
Few cities in the world can rival the magic of Istanbul. Solange Hando explores the historic city of palaces & mosques.
Poised at the meeting point of Asia and Europe on the old Silk Road, it’s bustling, exotic, glistening with palaces and mosques, sparkling fountains, leafy squares and breezy waterways. The legendary Bosphorus 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. The western side is further divided by the lovely inlet of the Golden Horn heading down to the tip of the peninsula and its treasure trove of cultural highlights.
Named Byzantium in Greek times, then Constantinople and later Istanbul, the city prospered during the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) 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, built by Sultan Mehmed II who established Ottoman rule in 1453. Perched on a promontory above the confluence of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn, looking towards the open sea to the south, it offers one of the most glorious panoramas in Istanbul. But before enjoying the view from the imperial terrace, there are four compounds to explore in a never ending maze of archways and colonnades, pavilions and halls displaying silk fabrics, manuscripts, portraits, holy relics, Iznik tiles, mosaics and much more. The dazzling Imperial Treasure includes the 86 carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond and the Topkapi Dagger studded with emeralds and diamonds.