You only have 24 hours to explore the sensorial profusion of Istanbul? Begin by pushing open the doors of the immense Topkapi Palace. The building, the construction of which began in 1459, was home to the sultans of the Ottoman Empire until the 19th century. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it overlooks the Golden Horn with its tunnels, seraglios and harem.
Ten minutes in a tram will take you next to the Grand Bazaar for an immersion in the Oriental way of life. In search of new smells and discoveries, you wander around the aisles to discover the local craftwork and fresh produce of the region. Amidst the fragrance of spices, round oriental lanterns jostle for position with seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Next, enter the Blue Mosque which takes its name from the 20,000 blue ceramic tiles which line its walls. Here, gravity-defying minarets are everywhere, along with extravagant cupolas and shimmering ceramics.
Now your trip takes you north. In the port of Eminönü, a cruise ship awaits you. A tour of the Bosporus will show you the city in another light. For two magical hours, you can observe the endless horizons of the estuary and the captivating silhouettes of mosques which dot the urban landscape.
Finally you arrive at Hagia Sophia. Constructed in the 6th century, the monument was a basilica before becoming a mosque and then a museum. The last of the sun's rays cast a warm light on the building's majestic minarets as you enter it. The 32 metres high central nave reveals the colossal dimensions of the building. Vast and magical, just like dazzling Istanbul itself.