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4 Attractions Worth Exploring During Your Istanbul Holidays
Istanbul, the transcontinental city of Turkey, would surely offer you the best cultural delights of Europe and Asia. It was called Constantinople during the days of the Roman Empire and Byzantium when it was made the capital of the Byzantine Empire. When the Ottoman Empire established its supremacy over Constantinople, it was transformed into a cosmopolitan city and came to be known as Istanbul. In the year 2010, it was named the European Capital of Culture. This gave a tremendous boost to the city's tourism. Millions of tourists from different parts of the world enjoy a budget-friendly holiday in this Turkish city every year by exploring its popular offerings:
Hagia Sophia: Also known as 'Aya Sofya' in the Turkish language, this majestic structure served as a church from the time of its construction in the 6th century until the mid-15th century when it was converted into an imperial mosque under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Today, it is among the most visited museums in the world and attracts more than 3 million individuals every year. Your cheap holidays to Istanbul would give you the chance to explore some fascinating paintings and decorations preserved in it. The complex also has a small prayer room allocated by the Turkish government for the Christian and Muslim staff of the museum.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque: Your Istanbul holidays would never be considered complete without a visit to this historic mosque, which is globally renowned as the 'Blue Mosque' owing to the blue shades on its upper levels. Unlike the Hagia Sophia, it continues to function as a mosque even today. This magnificent mosque was constructed in the 17th century under the rule of Sultan Ahmed I. The complex also includes Sultan Ahmed's tomb, a hospice and an Islamic educational institution or 'madrasah'. You can visit this popular tourist site of Istanbul after exploring Hagia Sophia, as these two structures are located close to each other.
Topkapi Palace: This palace was originally called 'Yeni Saray' or the 'New Palace' in order to distinguish it from the Old Palace in the Beyazit Square. It is now a large museum, which you can explore during your cheap Istanbul holidays. The construction of Topkapi Palace was ordered by Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, in the 15th century. Over the centuries that followed, the entire complex was expanded with major renovation works. After the end of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, the palace was transformed into a museum by the government.
The Bosphorus Strait: This narrow and natural strait separates the Asian part of Turkey from the country's European part. Located in the north-western part of Turkey, this is the narrowest strait in the world in use for international navigation. According to a theory launched by the scientists from Columbia University, this strait was formed when the rising waters from the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean Sea made their way to the Black Sea sometime during 5600 BC. The Bosphorus Strait has many waterfront structures built during the Ottoman era and most of them are palaces and mosques.
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