When I was a child, my Midwestern grandmother taught me to spell Constantinople. “C-O-N spells Con,” I would recite, “S-T-A-N” spells stan,” I would continue, in the same way, with the rest of the name, until I would proudly shout “Constantinople“ and be praised for my spelling ability. Little did I dream then that I would, one day, be in that great Turkish city.
In 1930, the city bearing the name of Constantine the Great, who founded it in 330 AD, was renamed Istanbul. It is cut in two by the Strait of Bosphorus, which puts part of it in Europe and part in Asia. It has a population of 15 million people. The evocatively named Golden Horn inlet of the Bosphorus cuts the European section of the city in two. Istanbul is a city full of monumental sites - mosques, churches, synagogues, museums, squares, shops and bazaars - it deserves a minimum of a week-long visit.