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Istanbul

Istanbul - inside the Blue Mosque
Istanbul is a city that needs no introduction. It crops up on everybody’s travel bucket list because where else in the world can you find a city where two continents collide. You can wander the streets of the European side one minute and then stroll through its Asian parts the next. This magical meeting place of East and West means it is full to the brim with top-drawer attractions, lots of culture, and tantalising food options.Everyone falls for its charms – just look at history. The Greeks, Romans and Venetians took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay. Physical reminders of their various tenures are found across the city. The Blue Mosque is one of the most iconic landmarks to grace Istanbul’s skyline with its six minarets. Its real name is Sultan Ahmet Mosque but it is known locally as The Blue Mosque thanks to the beautiful blue tiles which adorn the walls inside.  A stone’s throw away is The Hagia Sophia. It was once a church, then a mosque and is now a museum. This evolving history is reflected in the decor which ranges from Islamic calligraphy to Christian murals. In the evening the fountains between the museum and mosque put on a colourful light show. Simply sit on a nearby bench and take in the atmosphere. It is also worth checking out Topkapi Palace, which was once home to generations of sultans and their wives. A collection of lush gardens surround the entrance to the palace, which boasts Islamic relics, and crown jewels. It also has views to die for over the Bosporus strait. The city's cuisine is as diverse as its heritage. Here you can eat aromatic Asian dishes or Italian classics if you so choose. But most visitors prefer to sample the succulent kebabs, flavoursome mezes and freshly caught fish that are the city's signature dishes, washing them down with the national drink, raki, or a glass or two of locally produced wine. One of the best things about Istanbul is that it is only a four-hour flight away from London – so there is nothing stopping your wanderlust.