Istanbul is one of the truly great romantic cities, straddling the Bosphorus with its skyline studded with domes and minarets. Today it hums as Turkey's cultural heart and good-time capital. Its history tracks back from Byzantium to Constantinople to its place at the head of the Ottoman Empire.
In this city you can tramp the streets where crusaders and janissaries once marched; admire mosques that are the most sublime architectural expressions of Islamic piety; peer into the sultan's harem; and hunt for bargains in the Grand Bazaar. Side by side with Old Istanbul you'll find hip bars and clubs, flashy executives, malls and haute cuisine.