Istanbul is the historic threshold between Europe and Asia. Turkey’s largest city is a grand, chaotic, ancient and modern conglomeration of paradoxes that blend the features of both continents but retains a flavor uniquely its own. Built between A.D. 532 and 537, Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world until Seville’s was completed in 1506. Just opposite, the majestic Blue Mosque mirrors some of the Byzantine elements of the Hagia Sophia and blends them with traditional Islamic design. Home to generations of Ottoman sultans, Topkapı Palace contains an astonishing jewelry collection. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a covered labyrinth of thousands of shops offering everything from rugs to rice. A Bosphorus cruise gradually reveals one of the most romantic skylines in the world.

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