Istanbul is recognized as the cultural, historical and financial center of Turkey. The city is well known widespread for its past, present and future architecture glory. This fascinating town is located on two continents separated by the Strait of Bosphorus. It was the capital of the three great Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Istanbul is also known for its beautiful mosques, and this city has more than 3,000 mosques, including Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque that have achieved worldwide recognition.
Every time you go to Istanbul, you can encounter throughout the historical Mosques the ruins of many ancient civilizations and their history. This is one of the world’s most remarkable cities where you can see modern western city blended with a traditional eastern city.
Indiaimagine readers, Let’s discuss more about this captivating city of Turkey.
Popular Attractions of Istanbul
Located in Sultanahmet, BlueMosque is also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It is the most admirable monument to watch in Istanbul due to its bluish interior. This historical mosque stands in the middle of Old Istanbul, next to the Byzantine Hippodrome. The Blue Mosque is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey, and all credit goes to its six minarets, attractive & intricate architecture and its blue dome exteriors.
The high ceiling inside the mosque is lined with 20,000 blue tiles with distinct patterns that offer a unique decoration to the mosque. Hence, this is the main reason behind the conversion of Sultan Ahmed Mosque mosque name into the Blue Mosque.
Read More About Mosque Here: Blue Mosque of Istanbul: Most Iconic & Historical Landmark of Turkey
Hagia Sophia is also known as Aya Sofya, is renowned in the world as one of the most beautiful buildings. Situated in Istanbul, the Byzantine structure of Hagia Sophia was originally a church of holy wisdom, but later it is converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered the city of Istanbul in the 15th century.
Then later in 1935, Hagia Sophia is transformed into a museum and now this ancient building is one of the top attractions for tourists in Turkey. The dome of Hagia Sophia is 106 feet in diameter and the largest enclosed space in the world.
Hippodrome is located between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in bustling vicinity of Sultanahmet in Istanbul. Constructed in the 3rd century, the Hippodrome was the home of sporting entertainment of Istanbul during the Byzantine era, with a wide track for chariot racing. The current Hippodrome traces the course of the ancient race track, though the actual remains are still underground.
The square contains the Obelisk of Theodosius, a pink, Egyptian-made granite column which is one of the oldest monuments in the city. Also here is a spiralled obelisk that came from the temple of Apollo, the Walled Obelisk, and the German Fountain, a gift from Kaiser Wilhelm in the early 20th century.
The magnificent palace of Topkapi is also known as Topkapi Sarayi. It was initially constructed by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century. The imperial complex located beside the Bosphorus and for 400-year it served as the royal residence to sultans of the Ottoman Empire.
This glorious palace depicts the dazzling display of Islamic art. It contains decorated buildings and courtyards, Harems, an armoury, imperial halls, and royal chambers all with intricate Iznik tilework and opulent architecture, including a treasury.
The Basilica Cistern is one of Istanbul’s most surprising tourist attractions. This massive, palace-like interior chamber, sustained by 336 columns in 12 rows, once preserved the royal water supply for the Byzantine emperors. Many of the columns used in buildings have been replicated and painted from former traditional structures.
The most prominent of these is the Medusa column bases with their Medusa head carvings in the northeast corner. A tour is really fascinating with the beautifully lit columns and the calm atmosphere with water circulates all around you creates an amazing aura for travellers.
Another impressive sight to behold is Bosphorus Bridge, which is located around 3.9 mi from the city centre. Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge is one of three metropolitan bridges that link between Europe and Asia on the Bosphore Strait. Officially is known as 15 July Martyrs Bridge and sometimes also referred to as the First Bridge. The Bosphorus Bridge is a symbol of Istanbul and one of the most photo-worthy sights in the city.
The bridge is situated on Istanbul’s European side from the Ortakoy Mosque and the Asian side of the Beylerbeyi Palace. A Bosphorus cruise is the perfect way for tourists to view the bridge. Many cruises start at the Golden Horn, where the Blue Mosque minarets and Sainte Sophia can be seen.
Dolmabahce Palace is a must-see destination for architecture buffs. This palace was the home of the Ottoman sultans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before the fall of the empire. The giant crystal chandeliers, marble walkways and lush interior carpets reflect European architectural brilliance.
The concept of Dolmabahce Palace was given by Sultan Abdulmecid and designed to duplicate the modern style of luxurious European palaces. Today it’s preserved as an extravagant museum, with the gilded details of the early 20th century still visible. Thus, history lovers, you must pay a visit to this palace.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
After hopping Topkapi Palace, visit Istanbul Archaeology Museum which is the most important museum complex of Istanbul as well of Turkey. It brings together a staggering array of artefacts from Turkey and throughout the Middle East, which sweeps through the vast breadth of history of this region.
The complex has three distinct parts worth visiting: the Ancient Orient Museum; the main archaeological museum; the Mehmet the conqueror Tiled Pavilion, which houses an impressive array of ceramics. In addition to all the fine objects shown in the main Archeology Museum, don’t skip the fascinating exhibit in Istanbul through the Ages.
Rustem Pasha Mosque
Rustem Pasha Mosque is a hidden gem of Istanbul. It is hidden on a terrace above the bustle of the Eminonu quarter’s Spice Bazaar. The small room, designed by the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, is covered in floral and geometric designs with colourful red and blue Iznik tiles.
It is considered as a miniature of Blue Mosque. It was constructed in honour of Suleiman the grand vizier in the 16th century. Its stunning interior is a marvel of mosaic artistry and provides calmness from the hectic city outside. Rustem Pasha Mosque is a must-visit for art and architecture buffs.
Best Places for Shopping in Istanbul
After sightseeing the popular attractions of Istanbul, pay a visit to Markets of Istanbul as it is a paradise for shopaholics. Major tourist shopping attractions include Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market that combine historical sightseeing with one of the country’s classic shopping experiences. Grand Bazaar is highly popular among visitor for shopping.
Aside from this, Egyptian Spice Bazaar dates back to the 17th century and houses over 80 shops for trade in spices, dried fruit, nuts and specialist Turkish food products. Other markets for shopping includes Arasta Bazaar, Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir, Women’s Bazaar and Galata which is prevalent for renowned attraction Galata Tower.
Top Places to Stay in Istanbul
Istanbul offers the hotel choices to fit all budgets and styles of traveller, whether you are travelling with family or a couple. Here you’ll find the mid-range to luxury hotels near every travel destinations. Most of the best hotels can be found within the old city centre i.e Sultanahmet District, This is one of the most popular tourist areas to visit, as all of the top attractions are within walking distance. You can follow this list of some best places to stay in Istanbul.
- Raffles Istanbul
- Basileus Hote
- Romance Istanbul Hotel
- Ajwa Hotel Sultanahmet
- Hotel Amira Istanbul
- Dersaadet Hotel Istanbul
- Hotel Ibrahim Pasha
When to Visit Istanbul
You can visit this magnificent city of Turkey any time of the year, but the number of tourists in the city varies as the season changes. But the best times to visit Istanbul are from March to May and between September and November.