Istanbul is not only one of the biggest cities in Europe, it is now also officially the best.
Turkey's largest city, with a population of more than 13 million, has just been voted the Best European Destination 2013.
Istanbul pipped Lisbon and Vienna to take the coveted European Consumers Choice award, decided by European citizens in an online poll.
Award organisers described 2013 as a "landmark year" to visit the city as it marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.
The organisers said: "The only city in the world to straddle two continents, Turkey's fabled city of Istanbul is the historic crossroads between East and West … and the perfect choice for a refreshing city break."
The heaving city has myriad tourism attractions which made it ideal for group tours, tailor-made holidays or city breaks.
It has something for everyone, with museums, mosques, palaces and pavilions, fortresses, statues and monuments, towers and castles, seafood restaurants, and, of course, Turkish baths.
One of its main attraction, however, is retail. Its numerous shopping centres range from the historic to the modern.
The Grand Bazaar, operating since 1461, is one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets.
The nearby Nevizade Street is a drinkers' delight, lined with winehouses and pubs. Nisantasi and Bebek provide the liveliest of nightlife destinations.
Barcelona came fourth, Amsterdam fifth and Madrid sixth in the award, now in its fourth year. Completing the top 20 were Valletta, Nice, Milan and Stockholm.
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