Istanbul, Turkey

Few cities have seen so much history as Istanbul.  Even fewer places in the world have been the central points of entire civilizations.  But for all it’s great heritage, Istanbul remains beautiful, mysterious, friendly, and welcoming.  This great metropolis originally began as a small commercial settlement at the opening to the Black Sea.  A Greek colonizer named Byzas recognized the tremendous possibilities of a trading center at the narrowest crossing point between Europe and Asia.  He also saw that the sea lanes between southern Russia and the entire Mediterranean world passed here and nowhere else.  So he founded his town, Byzantium, on the easily defended peninsula in the Sea of Marmara, which also boasted a five-mile long protected anchorage, later called the Golden Horn. Byzas had a good thing and he knew it.  Although his foundation did not grow very large at first, it became quite successful and wealthy.