Main gateway to the country and a mythical town that bridges Europe
, Istanbul is a fascinating city of contrasts and like no other. The thousand and one neighbourhoods each reserve different surprises but always with a local feel. Go shopping at the Grand Bazaar and spice market, visit the Blue Mosque whose six minarets once rivalled Mecca
's, see the sumptuous Saint Sophia, the Byzantine basilica turned into a mosque and the impressive Topkapi palace-museum of sultans. Also push the door of Saint Saviour in Chora, the Romanesque basilica decorated with admirable Byzantine mosaics, plan a boat ride on the Bosporus, see the history of ancient Byzantium and alternatively the 'yalés' (partly-timbered houses), bordering the banks of the river.