Spanning the Asian and European continents, Istanbul was settled as far back as 300,000 years ago. It is a city which has hosted different civilizations and cultures throughout the ages; it was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires for approximately 16 centuries. With this characteristic, it is one of the most important cities in the world, with its historical and cultural wealth, where people of different religions, races and languages lived together. It has a wealth of historical heritage, from Topkapı Palace, Dolmabahçe Palace, the Grand Bazaar, the Hagia Sophia Museum, Maiden’s Tower and Basilica Cistern. Splitting the sea in two, Istanbul has been a source of inspiration for numerous writers and poets with its natural beauty and art has always nourished this rich city. Concerts, opera, ballet and stage theater works have been performed in this city through the years. A significant number of art festivals are organized here. Istanbul is also important for its entertainment and shopping venues. The city literally lives around the clock with its restaurants, night clubs and bars. It is home to a large number of modern, luxury shopping malls. It lets visitors experience matchless pleasure shopping in a vivid atmosphere of the oldest and largest bazaars in the world, such as the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar and Mahmutpaşa Bazaar.