Istanbul – Two continents collide at the heart of empire
Straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul, formerly Byzantium and Constantinople, has been the capital of two empires and is now the stunning capital of the Turkish Republic, full of ancient buildings and exuding history. Istanbul's 80-plus museums include establishments focusing on topics such as archaeology (Istanbul Archaeology Museum) and artefacts from the Ottoman era (Pera Museum). A visit to Istanbul's Carpet Museum for instance might help you feel informed when making a purchase at the Grand Bazaar. Islamic and Byzantine architecture are strongly represented by several awe-inspiring mosques, ancient churches and fortifications. Among the prettiest of these is the Rüstem Pasa Mosque, near the Spice Bazaar, with fine examples of hand-painted Iznik tile panels. Younger visitors will enjoy a number of family-oriented attractions, including the Miniatürk Park with 122 famous Turkish landmarks in miniature, and Kidzania, an activity centre where they can earn Kidzania currency with pretend jobs.