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RECOMMENDED PROPERTIES IN ISTANBUL

ISTANBUL

With Europe on one side and Asia on the other, Istanbul is a city reborn, boasting equal portions of cosmopolitan charisma and historic character. Founded by the Greeks, developed by the Romans and Byzantines and perfected under the Ottomans, Istanbul has more than enough architecture and culture to go around.

Hotels in Istanbul span ultramodern highrises and cozy inns housed in restored heritage buildings. The best places to stay in this sprawling city are centrally located. The accommodation explosion of the last few years has transformed an uninspiring hotel scene into a lively and colorful place to be based. Across the water from Sirkeci and Sultanahmet on the Anatolian side of the Bosporus is the Kadikoy-Uskudar area where historic trams clatter past well-heeled shoppers.

It's impossible to visit Istanbul without standing in awe of the art and architecture. The Sultanahmet historic quarter is awash with Byzantine-era homes and Ottoman mosques. Its crowning attraction is Hagia Sophia, a grand basilica-turned-mosque that was the world's largest enclosed space for a full millennium. Other neighborhoods that specialize in history and architecture include Beyazit Square and Besiktas where sultans' palaces have given way to a few of the best hotels in Istanbul.

A tour of Kadikoy-Uskudar on the Asian side of the divide reveals a beautiful spread of architecture especially mosques that stand in marked contrast to the type seen on the European side. Meanwhile, the hotels in Sisli-Congress area appeal mainly to business travelers.

Culture comes in many forms on this continental bridge. Beyoglu-Taksim district boasts museums and art galleries, stages Jazz festivals and operates several top-end boutiques. Trendy night clubs and bohemian cafes huddle around the boutique hotels in Istanbul.

Sirkeci station is the point of entry for travelers arriving by rail from Europe but most visitors arrive via Ataturk Airport on the European side. It's a well-run facility with links to cities across Europe and the Middle East.

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