Some ancient cities are the sum of their monuments, but Istanbul factors a lot more into the equation. Chief among its manifold attractions are the locals, who have an infectious love of life and generosity of spirit. This vibrant, inclusive and expanding community is full of people who work and party hard, treasure family and friendships, and have no problem melding tradition and modernity in their everyday lives.
Istanbul's strategic location has attracted the Greeks, Persians, Romans and Venetians, who took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay. Istanbul was also the final stage on the legendary Silk Route that linked Asia and Europe, and many of the merchants who came here liked it so much that they, too, decided to stay. In so doing, they endowed the city with a cultural diversity that it retains to this day.