A city that mighty empires have fought over for centuries. The city where Europe meets Asia. A city where millions of tulips bloom every spring. All this is Istanbul — one of the most beautiful and majestic cities in the world.
Finding what to see in Istanbul is not difficult. The capital of Turkey is replete with monuments of a glorious and rich history. The local sights can impress the most seasoned travelers. Experts “Come with us” shared a list of top locations.
1. Hagia Sophia
The symbol of the “golden” century of the Byzantine Empire with a height of 55.6 meters and a dome with a diameter of 31 meters is stunning with beauty and grandeur. According to legend, when Emperor Justinian first entered the church, built on his orders in 536 AD. e., he exclaimed: « O Solomon, I have surpassed you! ". Today, Hagia Sophia is considered one of the most beautiful and spectacular sights in Istanbul.
2. Topkapi Palace
No list of places to visit in Istanbul would be complete without Topkapi Palace, the main residence of the Ottoman sultans. The luxurious complex on the banks of the Bosphorus was built by Mehmed the Conqueror.
In the 16th century, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the harem was moved to the palace, obeying the desire of Alexandra Anastasia Lisowska, who wanted to be closer to her husband. Since then, for 400 years, Topkapi has been the main palace for 25 successive sultans until 1923, when the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed.
3. Blue Mosque
The world-famous Blue Mosque became a grandiose architectural gift of Sultan Ahmet I to his capital. Built between 1609 and 1616, it made a splash throughout the Muslim world.
The Blue Mosque is called because of the interior decoration: the walls of the building are decorated with more than 20 thousand white and blue handmade Iznik tiles. When looking at beautiful places in Istanbul, do not miss the opportunity to walk in the gardens between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia at sunset. At dusk, the duos of domes look fabulously beautiful.
4. Basilica Cistern
One of the most amazing tourist attractions is a huge underground hall, the vaults of which are supported by 336 columns. Once upon a time, the imperial supply of drinking water was stored here in case of a drought or a siege of the city. The room is very atmospheric, with beautiful lighting.
5. Grand Bazaar
For many tourists, visiting Istanbul is associated not only with sightseeing, but also with shopping. A visit to the Grand Bazaar — will help to connect both. the largest covered market, which occupies an entire block and is surrounded by thick brick walls. You can enter the bazaar through one of 11 gates leading to a labyrinth of narrow streets with vaulted ceilings lined with stalls, shops, souvenir shops and craft shops.
6. Dolmabahce Palace
Luxurious, magnificent and beautiful — here are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Dolmabahce Palace, which has been compared to the Palace of Versailles. Built in the 19th century using 14 tons of gold leaf, Turkey's most glamorous palace combines traditional Ottoman architecture with European neoclassical, baroque and rococo styles.
7. Spice Bazaar
The fragrant and colorful spice bazaar is increasingly included in the list of places to visit in Istanbul. A bright mosaic of spices next to rows of gem-like Turkish Delight looks incredibly picturesque. The second largest market after the Grand Bazaar is located next to the majestic Yeni Cami (New Mosque), the construction of which was begun in 1615 and completed in 1663.
8. Galata Tower
The tower, 52 meters high, was built by the Genoese in the 14th century. The structure was the tallest building in Istanbul for centuries. It has been restored several times due to damage from fires and storms. Today, the top floor observation deck and restaurant is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul for an iconic view of the skyline in the center of the old city.
9. Bosphorus Cruise
No trip to Istanbul would be complete without a boat trip along the famous Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black and Marmara Seas. From the deck of a yacht or sightseeing ferry, you will enjoy the famous views of the fortresses, palaces and mansions of the Ottoman era, graceful arches of bridges.
10. Istanbul Modern Gallery
A visit to the Istanbul Modern Gallery will help you touch the modern art of Turkey. The exposition is represented by collections of sculptures and installations, photographs and paintings by famous masters.
11. Istiklal Caddesi Pedestrian Street
A colorful and lively street with a length of 1.5 kilometers was the main avenue of Constantinople in the past. The lower end of the street can be reached by the Tünel funicular, built in 1875. There is also a quaint old-fashioned tram that runs down the street to Taksim Square. Interesting places in Istanbul are concentrated extremely densely here: literally at every step there are churches, ancient consulate buildings, restaurants, atmospheric cafes, boutiques.
12. Uskudar District
The ancient Istanbul district, located on the site of a military outpost in the “Asian” parts of the city. Travelers will find here the beautiful Chinili and Atik Valide mosques, Beylerbey Palace, winding streets and weather-beaten brownwood houses. Walking along the embankment, you can walk to the famous Maiden's Tower.
13. Gulhane Park
The largest and most beautiful park in Istanbul, whose name translates as “rose garden”. There are many fountains, comfortable benches, colorful flower beds, cafes and viewing platforms on the vast green area.
14. Fener and Balat districts
If all the main attractions of Istanbul have already been completed and explored, go to the historical quarter with cobbled streets and colorful houses. The Greek Lyceum, dating back to 1454, is adjacent to hipster cafes, junk shops and cozy tea houses.
Byzantine emperors loved afternoon chariot races, and the rectangular arena next to Sultanahmet Park was their favorite place. Today the area of the hippodrome, decorated with columns and obelisks, is a favorite place for walking both tourists and local residents. You can imagine the scale of the building in the past by going to the Sfendon wall.