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8 Things Not to Miss in Istanbul

Rome may be The Eternal City, but Istanbul can make a pretty good case for immortality too. The cities are about the same age and for much of that time the larger, wealthier, and more influential of the two was not the one in Italy.
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Rome may be The Eternal City, but Istanbul can make a pretty good case for immortality too. The cities are about the same age, both over two-and-a-half millennia, and for much of that time the larger, wealthier, and more influential of the two was not the one in Italy. In fact Istanbul, known as Constantinople at the time, spent hundreds of years ruling over Rome as the capital of the Roman Empire.

Istanbul has so much to offer, but these are the essentials.

The Sultanahmet Mosque, the official name of The Blue Mosque, was built in 1609 by Sultan Ahmed I, it features a main dome, eight secondary domes, and six minarets, and is considered the pinnacle of two centuries of Ottoman mosque development. More Blue Mosque...

WATCH:It's impossible to show the enormity of the mosque in photos - video helps!

Row after row of hundreds of columns hold up arches and domes in a stunning work of architecture that was never meant to be seen. The huge space was built as a water storage facility which was used by the city for around 1,500 years. All of this surprisingly ornate work was under 21 million gallons of water. For unknown reasons, there are mysterious oddities inside, including oddly-angled sculpted heads of Medusa at the base of two pillars in one of the corners. More Basilica Cistern...

The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and, certainly largest covered markets in the world. When the market was built, in 1455, Istanbul was the crossroad between Europe and Asia, and the bazaar soon became the hub of trade between the continents, so it had to be spectacular. More Grand Bazaar...

WATCH:A romp through the Grand Bazaar - Veronica learns to haggle!

We knew about Turkish Delight - as the downfall of the kids of Narnia - but didn't know what is was. It's freakin' delicious.

The Emperor Justinian wanted to build the largest church in the world, and succeeded... by a long shot. This massive cathedral was built in the year 532, and completed in only five years. It remained unchallenged for almost one thousand years, until the Renaissance cathedrals of Europe finally caught up. But those churches took decades, if not centuries, to construct. More Hagia Sophia...

WATCH:See how Turkish carpets are made, what kinds of dyes are used and how to spot quality - and see a REAL flying carpet!

The Topkapı Palace is where, after the fall of the Roman Empire to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, the sultans and their courts lived for four hundred years. The palace is now a museum of the imperial era. The sultans had quite a collection of jaw dropping jewels, among them a gold box filled with emeralds, multiple ruby and diamond handled swords and daggers, and the highlight, the Spoonmaker's Diamond, one of the largest in the world at eighty-six carats. More Topkapı Palace...

Of course David The Train Nut needed to ride something on rails and, lucky for him, there is a funicular that goes up the steep hillside from the waterfront to Taksim Square. Because it runs inside the mountain, it's the only funicular we've ever been on that didn't scare the tar out of Veronica!

WATCH:


David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com