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Istanbul, the only city in the world that spans Europe and Asia, is divided into the old city area, the European new city area, and Asian area. The Bosporus Strait crosses the city and separates the Eurasian continent while the old city area is the most concentrated place for tourist attractions. When in Istanbul, visitors can head to the Hagia Sophia that retains both Christian and Islamic religious traces as well as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), which is considered second only to the Great Mosque of Mecca. In the afternoon, sunset cruises run on the Bosporus Strait from the old city as dusk falls. After the voyage, visitors can return to the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) on the shore and watch the Muslim evening prayer.
The new European city area and the Asian area represent two very different sides of Istanbul. The center of Europe's new city, the Tashim Square is home to famous shopping areas as well as the financial district, both of which display the prosperity of modern Istanbul. The Asian area is mostly home to locals, and visitors can browse the lively local bazaar, watch the commencement of prayers in small mosques, or drink tea in the street cafes like the locals do. In terms of time to spend traveling, it is usually recommended to spend three to four days in Istanbul. Visitors can spend 1-2 days visiting the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Dolmabahçe Palace and Topkapı Palace, İstiklal Avenue (Independence Avenue) and other must-see attractions; another day exploring Bosporus Strait; and the last day visiting the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, as well as some niche attractions, such as the Süleymaniye Mosque, Chora Church, and so on.
The Blue Mosque is Istanbul's most iconic mosque and its name is derived from the blue tiles it was constructed with. Here, the sun shines through the colored glass of 260 small windows and the combination of golds and blues create a breathtaking view. With more than 30 domes and 6 minarets, the mosque's striking appearance can be appreciated both day and night. The Hagia Sophia, just across the street from the Blue Mosque, represents the co-existence of Christianity and Islam. It is the main church of former Byzantine Empire, and the converted mosque is now one of the symbols of Turkey with its dome spire. Standing in the central hall of the mosque and looking up at the circular dome, visitors can’t help but feel its magnificent momentum. The interior of the mosque is decorated with chandeliers, doors from the imperial period, and gorgeous murals. Turkey's most romantic underground water world, the Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul located next to the Hagia Sophia. Both the Hollywood films 007 in Istanbul and Jackie Chan’s The Accidental Spy here were once filmed here. Entering the water palace is like entering an entirely different part of the city.
The Süleymaniye Mosque is located on the middle of the hill in the old city area and is known as the most beautiful mosque in Istanbul. Because it is located in a high place, you can also see the beauty of the strait from here. Taksim Square and İstiklal Avenue are Istanbul's largest squares and are located in the center of the new city. In the south part of the square stands a ring-shaped independent monument to commemorate the founder of the Republic of Turkey in the 20th century - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Extending from the square is Istanbul's lively commercial street, Independence Avenue. It is about 3 kilometers long and is a good place to experience modern life in the city.
Located in northern Turkey, Istanbul has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The best travel seasons, spring (April-June), summer (June-September) and fall (September-October) are also Istanbul's golden tourist seasons. At this time, Istanbul has a pleasant climate and is sunny and suitable for travel. Out of all the seasons, the summer is the best time to visit the Aegean Sea. This is also the peak season for travel from Europe to Turkey, so prices of hotels in Istanbul are known to increase.
There are many hotels in Istanbul, ranging from unique hostels to boutique hotels. Accommodation here is mainly located in the European and Asian regions on both sides of the Bosporus Strait. The European district is roughly divided into the old city area and the new city area and happens to be where most tourists choose to stay. The attractions here are dense and public transportation is convenient and simple to use. In addition, the Atatürk International Airport on the outskirts of Istanbul is the international gateway to Istanbul. Transiting tourists can choose to stay near the airport. Prices in the Asian area are cheaper than those in European area, but there are not many attractions and the number of hotels is relatively low. On the Asian area side, the Prince’s Island area has beautiful landscapes, and there are also some homestays that are reconstructed from villas.