Thursday, September 15, 2011

The San Marino Chamber Choir is heading to Istanbul - Here are some facts

Did You Know?
This historically rich city of Istanbul is located in the northwestern part of Turkey. While the city is home to over 13 million people, one of the largest populations in Europe, it is actually not the capital of Turkey. (No need to search: the capital is Ankara!) Situated between Asia and Europe, Istanbul bridges the two both physically and culturally. Now is the perfect time to visit this very happening city, as it is currently bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics!

Explore the Land
Historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, many of the ancient monuments date back to Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods. In 1843, Sultan Abdul Mecid ordered architect Garavet Balyan to build the Dolmabahce Palace, an example of the combination of Oriental and Western styles. Then there is the Topkapi Palace, now a museum, was once a home to all of the Ottoman sultans for nearly four centuries. The Istanbul Archeology Museum consists of three museums, which holds one of the world’s richest collection of historical artifacts and treasures. An architectural masterpiece in the city, the Suleymaniye Moque is the largest and most imposing moque. Beautiful, historical landmarks of the city can go on and on; a visit to this marvelous city might never be complete.

Shop at a Major Trade Route
Originally founded as a location to control the major trading routes, connecting east and west, shopping could be considered as just another tourist attraction. Make sure to go Monday through Saturday, as shops may be closed on Sundays. The historical bazaars, marketplaces, are all located in the peninsula of the Old City. There you can browse some of popular things to buy in the city: lokum (confections based on a gel of starch and sugar), Turkish Tea (chai, the national drink of Turkey), rugs, and kilims (flat tapestry-woven carpets produced from the Balkans to Pakistan). Also don’t be alarmed if you have to go through a security checkpoint, similar to airports and museums, as this is common before entering major shopping malls.

Turkey’s currency is the Turkish Lira (TL). At places frequented by tourists the Euro and US dollar are also sometimes accepted; however, be sure to carry some Lira for the places that do not have that option! Be sure to exchange only what you will need for your stay, as converting the Lira back to another currency can be quite difficult after leaving.

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