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Istanbul is located in north-western Turkey within the Marmara Region on a total area of 5,343 square kilometers (2,063 sq mi). The Bosphorus, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, divides the city into a European, Thracian side—comprising the historic and economic centers—and an Asian, Anatolian side.
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Neolithic artifacts, uncovered by archaeologists at the beginning of the 21st century, indicate that Istanbul’s historic peninsula was settled as far back as the 7th millennium BC. That early settlement, important in the spread of the Neolithic Revolution from the Near East to Europe, lasted for almost a millennium before being inundated by slightly rising water levels.
Begin your day with a visit to the fascinating and impressive Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii), with its beautiful blue Iznik tiles, unique architecture and marble latticework and the Hippodrome, the center of Byzantine life for 1000 years. Visit the magnificent Hagia Sophia, and then continue to the marvelous Topkapi Palace, the palace of the Ottoman Sultans between 16th and 19th centuries. Optional visits: to the Treasury, where its displays include priceless world-class collections of jewelry, porcelain and costumes of the Sultans and the Harem quarters is an absolute highlight. Accompanied by your escorting guide you explore the Grand Bazaar (Kapalıcarsi), the world’s oldest “shopping mall“, to look for treasures in its 4000 shops. (L)