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Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey Information - Mediterranean Cruise Information -

For sheer excitement, energy, mystery and marvels, no place on earth can outdo Istanbul. The city is famous as a crossroads. The influence of Asia and Europe, the religion of Christians and Moslems, and the culture of Turks, Persians and Asians have all found their way into the daily life of this bustling metropolis.

From the kaleidoscope of street scenes to the serenity of the surrounding waters, from the ancient wonders of vanished empires to the timelessness of hand-crafted art, Istanbul offers one intriguing adventure after another.

The opulent Topkapi Palace, built in the days when silk-clad Sultans ruled the land, is one of the city's most popular attractions. A lavishly decorated royal residence turned national museum, it houses a remarkable art collection featuring treasures from the most exotic parts of world, and it is home to the famed Topkapi blue diamond.

Equal in splendor is the 17th century Blue Mosque. Renown for its exterior domes and minarets, its interior is a glowing space decorated by more than 20,000 Iznik tiles in 33 different shades of blue.

Nearby, is Hagia Sophia, (the Church of Holy Wisdom), which is more than 1,000 years older than the Blue Mosque. A magnificent example of Byzantine architecture, the church was built by Justinian when Istanbul was known as Constantinople. Its interior is elaborately decorated with precious marbles, intricate mosaics and pillars from ancient Ephesus.

The popular Grand Bazaar, the largest covered market in the world, serves as the perfect destination for tasting the true flavors of the land. Over 4,000 shops, cafes and restaurants line the maze of 65 winding streets. Ancient trade practices mix with the modern within these incredibly exotic surroundings. Bargaining is not only expected, it's half the fun!

While shopping for clothing, carpets, jewelry or native pottery, be sure to sample such delicacies as the spicy ground lamb specialty Adana Kebabs, served on sautéed pita bread with a zesty yogurt-garlic sauce, or relax over baklava and coffee in a dusky café.
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