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Istanbul

The crowning jewel in our latest Mediterranean cruise tour.

Flying Wheels Travel hosted a Greece and Turkey cruise tour May 13 to 28. The tour began with three nights in Rome. The group toured the coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Novona and the Pantheon. There was also a full-day tour of Vatican City, which included the Basilica of St. Peter and the Vatican Museum.  

After our time in Rome, we boarded the Mariner of Seas for the Mediterranean cruise. Ports of call included Sicily, Crete, Rhodes, Athens and Kusadasi, Turkey.

However, the most exciting port of call was the ancient city of Istanbul.Strategically located on the Bosphorus peninsula between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul was successively the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire and has been associated with major events in political history, religious history and art history for more than 2,000 years. The city is situated on a peninsula, which is surrounded by the Golden Horn, a natural harbor on the north, the Bosphorus on the east and the Marmara Sea on the south. The Historic Peninsula, on which the former Byzantium and Constantinople developed, was surrounded by ancient walls, built initially by Theodosius in the early fifth century.

The outstanding universal value of Istanbul resides in its unique integration of architectural masterpieces that reflect the meeting of Europe and Asia over many centuries, and in its incomparable skyline formed by the creative genius of Byzantine and Ottoman architects. It is the only city in the world which is located both in Europe and Asia geographically.

Highlights of Istanbul included tours of the Bosphorus strait, the Grand Bazaar and the St. Sophia Museum.

The Grand Bazaar is composed of two sections; the covered part and the modern part. The covered part is a whole quarter on its own and is surrounded by a wall, which can be entered through eleven gates. The maze of streets and lanes are one the greatest sights in the city, where more the 4,000 shops featuring various trades such as carpets, jewelry, leather goods, silver and textiles are segregated into particular section of the bazaar.

The St. Sophia Museum originated as a church in 360 AD under Constantine. Hagia Sophia was converted to a Mosque when the city was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453 by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Today the Museum is considered the most important Byzantine monument if the world.

 
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