Istanbul challenges a visitor’s expectations. A city that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia, Istanbul is modern Turkey writ large. Young, vibrant, secular, it manages to feel very European while also co-existing with the tenets of Islam.

It is also one of the world’s most historically significant cities, having played an important role in western civilization for almost two millennia. In the 4th century CE, it was known as ‘Constantinople’, named for Constantine, the Emperor of what was then the Eastern Roman Empire. For 1000 years, Constantinople would be one of the world’s most significant cities.

Constantinople was the capitol of the Byzantine Empire which commissioned great works, such as Hagia Sofia and the Basilica Cistern,  monuments that exist to this day. (more..)