Istanbul is one of the highlights of a cruise of the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea. Many cruise ships use Istanbul as an embarkation or disembarkation point for cruises of the Greek Isles and Turkey. I've visited Istanbul several times and love the exotic nature of the city and its fascinating sights. Seeing the magnificent Blue Mosque, Haggia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace and watching the bustling channel from the deck of the ship in the early morning are sights I will remember forever. It's certainly one of best sail away ports in the world.
Istanbul is spread over two continents, divided by the Bosphorus. Most of the more famous sites are on the European side of the channel. Cruise ships dock on the European side of Istanbul between the Dolmabahçe Palace and the Golden Horn, which serves as Istanbul's harbor. It is actually a flooded river valley that flows southwest into the Bosphorus. Turkish legend says that the Golden Horn got its name from all the valuables the Byzantines threw into it during the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Supposedly, the waters of the harbor took on a golden color. Several of the "must see" sites in Istanbul lie on the south side of the Golden Horn, and are a short distance from the cruise ship port. Many passengers embark or disembark in Istanbul and take the time to spend an extra day or two in the city. Others take side trips to Cappadocia or Pamukkale.
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