Top 10 things to do in Istanbul

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1. Go underground and walk the fascinating ancient 6th century water-storage system with its tunnels and tanks. Look out for the statue of Medusa hidden in a corner.

2. Be dazzled by a tour of the Blue Mosque. Inside it there are 260 stained glass windows and around 20,000 shimmering blue-green tiles. Find it on Sultanahmet Square.

3. Look up at the golden tiles lining the dome of the ancient cathedral, Aya Sofia. It was built back in AD 537 in the days when the city was called Constantinople. It was later turned into a mosque but is now a museum.

4. Book you ticket to tour the Harem at Topkapi Palace. It’s the oldest palace in the world and similar to the Alhambra in Granada. The Harem is the maze of rooms where the sultan’s wives and concubines used to live.

5. See where Florence Nightingale tended the troops in the Crimean War back in the 19th Century. The museum at Selimiye Barracks still has two of her famous lamps on display.

6. Catch sunset on the Galata Bridge, which spans old and new Istanbul. There’s a walkway either side of the bridge backed by lively cafes, bars and restaurants.

7. Go bargain hunting at the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world with 5,000 shops spreading over 60 streets. Smell the spices and leather goods.

8. Admire the artistry of the Turkish carpet display in The Great Hall at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.

9. Take a ferry on The Bosphorus. The narrow waterway divides the Europe half of Istanbul on the Western shore, from the Asian half on the East.

10. Wrap yourself in traditional cotton and relax in the steamy surroundings of a traditional Turkish bath.The Cemberlitas Baths is one of the oldest, dating back to the 1500s.


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