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Istanbul - Istanbul is hot. And we're not talking about the weather. These days, there are more happening restaurants, bars, galleries and clubs around town than there are exquisite Ottoman mosques (and that's a lot). It's known as the World's Hippest City. The creeping sense of decrepitude that had fallen like a pall over their once-all-powerful home town has vanished, replaced by a sense of energy and innovation not seen since the days of Suleyman the Magnificent. Things to See - Once you've settled into your Istanbul hotel, you will take a city tour for orientation, and later a Bosphorus cruise.
Hagia Sophia - The Church of the Divine Wisdom (Hagia Sophia in Greek. Ayasofya in Turkish.) in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, is one of the most impressive and important buildings ever constructed. Its wide, flat dome was a daring engineering feat in the 6th century. Architects still marvel at the building's many innovations. It was built on the site of Byzantium's acropolis by Emperor Justinian in 537 AD. Ayasofya was the greatest church in Christendom, and was meant to be. Many of Istanbul's top sights are in Sultanahmet: Topkapi Palace; Hagia Sophia; the Blue Mosque; the Hippodrome; and many good roof-top restaurants.
Istanbul's Grand Bazaar - (Kapali Carsi, or Covered Market) is Turkey's largest covered market offering excellent shopping: beautiful Turkish carpets, glazed tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, apparel made of leather, cotton and wool, meerschaum pipes, alabaster bookends and ashtrays, and all sorts of other things. Most guidebooks claim that it has 4000 shops. Because of consolidation and replacement of shops by restaurants and other services the number is certainly lower, but you get the idea: it has lots of shops. Not all of them, by the way, are for tourists; locals shop here as well, lending a welcome dose of authenticity.