Grandiose mosques and ultra modern skyscrapers dominate its skyline. Underneath, timeless grids of buzzing bazaars, hamams and exotic teahouses fuse with high-end shopping venues and hip restaurants in a sophisticated mix of old and new. And there it is, the ancient strait of Bosphorus venturing to tear them apart forever. This is Istanbul, one of the world’s greatest and most dramatic cities, and the place where, beyond any cliché, the East really meets the West.

Istanbul Mosque
Photo by Manuel Garcia

Why visiting

First, Istanbul is unique, and not only for standing on two continents or for being larger than Greece, but because it’s a true spectacle, one that never ends. The flavors, the colors, the music, the rush, the faces on the streets – are pure energy.

With one foot in Asia and the other one in Europe, the sprawling city of Istanbul effortlessly seduces the visitor, be it a culture devotee, a foodie, a keen fashionista or anything in between.

The delightful Old Town, with its Byzantine marvels, colorful bazaars and alluring Hamams, invites you to explore the history of this fabulous mega-city. On the north bank of the Golden Horn, glamorous neighborhoods await with large pedestrian streets, extravagant buildings, art galleries and oodles of bars. The strait of Bosphorus, the spectacular mosques, the blue gleamy Marmara and the quaint Princes’s Islands complement the charm of Istanbul for good and all.

In the last couple of years, Istanbul’s artistic, cultural and financial scenes experienced a thriving evolution. It could be the title of European Capital of Culture that the city received in 2010, or maybe the films where it was featured lately, but one thing is for sure – Now more than ever, Istanbul shines proudly in the spotlight as one of the most sought-after European cities and a powerful global financial center.

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