The main reason of Istanbul’s being a very popular city for which wars were made and lives were lost is its geographical location. Let’s review this  location first: In its south stretches Marmara Sea and in its north Black Sea. Its west part is in Europe and east part is in Asia. The important waterline dividing Istanbul into two is the Bosphorus.

The only alternative to reach the Aegean Sea and theMediterranean Sea, therefore to open sea is to use Istanbul and the Bosphorus.Istanbul is both the nearest Asian city to Europe and the nearest European cityto Asia. What adds value to Istanbul’s significance is its being a port city and all trade paths’ passing through the city for thousands of years.
Another important feature of Istanbul is its highly sheltered structure. Especially the center which is presently called “historical peninsula”, which was made capital city by both Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and its located on a hill surrounded by three seas made it almost impossible to be conquered. Indeed, Halic (Golden Horn) had the quality of being an unparalleled harbour sheltering navy fleets.



Land of the blinds
A famous myth explains very precisely the unmatched location of Istanbul:
Commander Byzas, who gave his name to the empire to be later called as
Byzantine, sets off to sail to build a new colony from where Greece is located
today. During the long voyage and his searches, he goes to an oracle for
advice. The oracle makes this prediction: “You are going to build your
city right opposite of the land of the blinds!” Continuing his voyage,
Byzas reaches to the banks of Sarayburnu, the Istanbul of today. When he sees
this protected peninsula, he thinks that it is just the place that he was
looking for; meanwhile he notices the area of residence on the opposite side
(Kadikoy at present). Byzas decides that the people who, given the excellent
area of residence right before them, do not prefer to reside there are blind.
And since it also coincides with the prediction, he builds his colony on this
land without hesitation.


Welcome to Istanbul

Istanbul, still geographically perfect!
Although thousands of years have passed, Istanbul still maintains its geographical importance. Today Istanbul is a huge metropolis connecting continents, cultures, religions and being home to more than ten million people; and one of the greatest business and cultural centre of the region.


The Great Palace of the Ottoman Sultans is the most extensive and fascinating monument of Ottoman civil architecture in existence. In addition to its architectural and historical interest, it contains as a museum, superb and unrivalled collections of porcelains, armour, fabrics, jewels, illuminated manuscripts, calligraphy and many objects of art formerly belonging to the Sultans.


The Blue Mosque is thought by many to be the most splendid of the imperial mosques in the city. With its graceful cascade of domes and semi-domes, its 6 slender minarets accenting the corners of the courtyard and the building, the lovely grey colour of the stone set off by the gilded ornaments on domes and minarets, and its generally imposing but gracious proportions. It was founded by Sultan Ahmet I between 1609 and 1616.

One of the city’s most striking landmarks, it is a huge, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline on the 
Galata side of the Golden Horn. It was built in 1384 and the highpoint in the city walls of the Genoese colony called Galata. During the first centuries of Ottoman era the Galata tower was occupied by a detachment of Janissaries, the elite corps of the Turkish Army. In the sixteenth century the tower was used to house prisoners of war, who were usually consigned as galley slaves in the ottoman arsenal at Kasimpasa on the Golden Horn.



One of the world’s most eulogized stretches of water, the Bosphorus is a source of pride for Istanbul’s residents and of admiration for its visitors. The 30-km strait divides Europe and Asia and connects the Marmara and Black Seas (only way in/out to/from Black Sea) is one of the city highlights. The Bosphorus has, for all ages, been the subject of legend and art. A striking feature of Istanbul, the Bosphorus coast is lined by “Yali’s” (old Ottoman wooden residences) flirting with the sea each with a tale of their own, marble palaces, sultans’ summer residences, gardens etc. The cruise will provide a taste of the Bosphorus that won’t leave your buds for a long time to come.


The best part of shopping in Turkey is visiting the bazaars such as Grand Bazaar (Kapalicarsi contains 3,000 shops, 25,000 full-time staff, 61 streets and even two mosques, and looks as much to the present as it does to the past.) and Egyptian Market (Misir carsisi) etc…, all brimming with copper and brassware items, hand-painted ceramics, alabaster and onyx goods fabrics, richly colored carpets and leather. It is possible to find world standard fashion stores and international chains as well.


In Turkey, there are many opportunities to benefit from Tax Free Shopping; more than 2.000 retail outlets are offering the service. The affiliated stores are displaying the well-known Tax Free Shopping logo, and helpful staff will guide you through the process. You pay 18% or 8% VAT on the purchases you make. The VAT is included in the price. All visitors residing outside of Turkey, including Turkish Nationals living abroad are entitled to claim back the tax, if they spend TRY 118 or more in one shop in one day. The goods need to be exported within three months following the month of purchase. Example: If you make your purchases on April 10th, you must leave the country no later than July 31st.After deduction of the handling expenses, you will receive a refund of up to 12, 5 % of the purchase price.

*Information from website of Global Refund
For additional information, contact Global Refund in Istanbul at: 
Tel: (0212) 232 11 21 
Fax: (0212) 241 77 28 

For participants from some countries a visa to Turkey may be required. You are strongly recommended to contact the nearest Turkish Consulate/Embassy in your town/country to learn your visa requirements and procedures. Some of the visa applications are possible at the airport as well.

Turkey is a fast developing country with its tourism, automotive (both manufacturing and assembling), textiles, services, construction (steel and cement factories), food and agriculture. Turkey has always been an agricultural country after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey but after the 1970s, thanks to the entrepreneurs and incentive policies of the governments, the industry made a considerable development.

Exports of certain goods, such as cotton, dried figs and apricots, nuts and herbs still cover a big share of Turkish economy.


The monetary unit is the Turkish lira (TL). The 1 kurus is minted in brass and the 5, 10 and 25 kurus in cupro-nickel, whilst the 50 kurus and 1 lira are bimetallic. All coins show portraits of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. With effect from 1 January 2009, the “new” was removed from the second lira, its official name in Turkey becoming just “lira” again.

If you want to exchange your currency, there are shops where you can change money. There is an electronic board where you can see the currencies and their TRY equivalent. Most of the shops, restaurants do accept foreign money, especially USD or EUR in Istanbul.

You can use your major credit card to pay for most purchases: hotel rooms, rental cars, auto fuel, airline tickets, fancy dinners and the most substantial souvenirs. The most popular card is VISA, followed by MasterCard/Eurocard and American Express. ATMs can be found in even the smallest Turkish towns. Most accept international credit cards or bank cards (a strip of logos is usually displayed above the ATM). Almost all ATMs have a language key to enable you to read the instructions in English.

Government Offices 
Monday-Friday (8:30 -12:30), (13:30 -17:30)
Saturday-Sunday (closed)

Monday-Friday (9:00-12:30), (13:30 -17:30)
Saturday-Sunday (closed)

Monday-Sunday (9:30-13:00), (14:00 -20:00)


Mosques are usually open to the public except prayer hours. Tourists should, however, avoid visiting mosques midday on Friday, when Muslims are required to worship. For women, bare arms and legs are not acceptable inside a mosque. Men should avoid wearing shorts as well. Women should not enter a mosque without first covering their heads with a scarf. Before entering a mosque, shoes must be removed.

Museums are generally open Tuesday-Sunday (9:30-16:30) and closed Monday.

Tap water is suitable for bathing and regular tasks such as brushing teeth. However, as is customary in most Mediterranean countries, the majority of locals and visitors drink bottled water. We recommend that visitors follow local custom and drink bottled water, which is routinely served with any meal.

The electricity in Turkey is of the 220 V, 50 cycle variety. The two-round prong European plug will work here but have a converter with you in case you use any 110 V machine.

Istanbul time is East European time, two hours ahead of Coordinated Universal time.