Throughout its history Istanbul has established itself as the economic and cultural center of the country that currently boasts well-developed tourism and commerce as important constituents of the city life. In terms of culture, entertainment, shopping, commerce, education and tourism Istanbul can be considered to be the capital of the country. While the vast majority of the population resides in the European side of the city, a large amount of people live in the residential areas on the Anatolian side.
With its marinas which offer a point-of-departure for sea travel as well as its ports, airports and the metro system connecting two continents, the city makes attempts to reach the modern era of transportation. Istanbul city breaks are a wonderful opportunity to experience the vibrancy and diversity of the city that has established itself as a center for cultural, commercial and social activities. Several newly opened restaurants offer a variety of the Far Eastern cuisines along with Turkish restaurants, the world renowned pop stars fill the stadiums, and such activities of cultural importance as theatre, opera and ballet are continuing throughout the year.
Of course, it is impossible to view all the sights and enjoy all the attractions of the city during short Istanbul city breaks. However, some of them are must-sees and should be included into your list of attractions while on a city break in Istanbul.
One of the oldest and most popular Istanbul attractions, Anadoluhisari is a large fortress, located on the Anatolian side of the Bosporus and giving the name to the quarter around it. Anadoluhisari was erected in 1394 by Ottoman sultan Bayezid as a watch fort, located at the narrowest point of the Bosporus strait and close to the creek Goksu. The second bridge spanning the Bosporus, the Faith Sultan Mehmed Bridge can be found north of the fortress. Situated on the European side opposite of Anadoluhisari is the fortress Rumelihisari, constructed by Sultan Mehmed II in 1451.
Following conquest of Constantinople, the fortress served as a military prison. Restoration of the sights occurred during the period of 1991-1993. Today Anadoluhisari is a historical site and an outstanding museum.
Built by the Greeks in the 6th century, the Basilica Cistern -- also referred to as the Yerebatan Sarayi -- is the largest of the ancient cisterns. Still lying beneath the city, it is an underground chamber of nearly 143 by 65 meters, able to hold 80,000 cubic meters of water. This water was provided from the Belgrade Woods via aqueducts, constructed by the Emperor Justinianus. Rating with the most visited attractions, the Basilica Cistern is one of the must-sees during your Istanbul city breaks.
Another popular attraction, the Golden Horn forms a peninsula with a natural harbor, dividing the city into two parts. The naval headquarters of the Byzantine Empire were located here, with the walls built to protect the city. Three times the chain across the Golden Horn was either circumvented or broken: in the 10th century by the Vikings, in 1204 by Venetian ships during the Fourth Crusade, and in 1453 by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II.
Those eager to learn more about the history of the city while on Istanbul city breaks, should consider a visit to the Golden Horn.