Initially known as Constantinople and Byzantium, Istanbul is the most populous city in Turkey, this city is vibrant and full of mosques, bazaars and famous Turkish baths you will absolutely love. Now everyone knows about the all these things which are very popular and loved by the tourists, like visiting the Blue mosque but what are the other major attractions of Istanbul? Well, we combined a list of top 10 places you must visit in Istanbul to have the time of your lives! Have a look-
You cannot go to Istanbul and not visit Bosphorus Cruise. The cruise provides you with a prolific view of the city along with both the shores of the Eastern and Asian waters. You can also visit the ancient palaces and mansions galore to witness the majestic architecture that Istanbul has. You can choose from many different cruising options available like a short cruise (to the second suspension bridge and back), a relatively long one (all the way to the Black Sea and back). You can also go for the popular sunset tour during the summertime.
The Hagia Sophia
This church-turned-mosque-turned-museum has one of the world’s finest architecture. After going through enormous restoration, the Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) now welcomes you to witness its splendor and magnificence. You can go up the spiral ramp to absorb the beauty of the Byzantine mosaics which include the Christ flanked by Emperor Constantine IX and his wife Empress Zoe.
The Topkapi Palace
The Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayı) was the official residence of Sultans for centuries. It is a complex of kiosks and pavilions limited by four lush green courtyards. Some of the very popular tourist attractions at this palace are the Harem, an embellished ‘cage’ of the sultan’s women, the treasure trove storing the jewels of the crown (including the famous Topkapi dagger), and the weapon’s room boosting the Ottoman’s fine craftsmanship when it came to weaponry especially the swords and the bows. The glorious views of the Turquoise waters of the Sea Marmara, Bosphorus and Golden Horn are just the perfect scenes you need to beautifully end your trip.
Did you know Istanbul is equally beautiful underground? A product of Byzantine engineering the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan) is a marvelous underground cistern, which was once responsible for the drinking water with aqueducts coming from the current of Bulgaria to Istanbul. It is dimly lit with classical music playing in the background along with the voice of water droplets dropping by calmly. Some may call it spooky but it is a romantic and thrilling experience for others. You can walk through the walkways and see the fish swimming in the 336 columns and in the end, you will find Medusa’s head which acts as the based for one of the columns placed upside down.
The hidden gem of Istanbul, people often ignore this unique place. It portrays some of the world’s richest collections of classical antiquities. One of the biggest key features here is the magnificent sarcophagus of Alexander the Great which tells us the important phases of his life, the blue-tiled Karaman Mihrab, the beautiful Tiled Pavilion, and the Treaty of Kadesh- which is the oldest surviving peace treaty ever! There is also a special place here for kids which is the model Trojan Horse in the children’s section.
If you wish to visit the Archaeology Museum you can do so by going left down the hill in Topkapi Palace’s first courtyard, or via Gülhane Park.
The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
This museum is one of the most happening places in Istanbul. Situated in the former palace of Ibrahim Pasa- one of the most talented Grand Vizier of Süleyman which you can view from the Hippodrome, the collection has more than 40.000 items on display. Each room holds artifacts from the different era of the Islamic period also reflecting on the day-to-day Turkish life from the 8th till the 19th century. Popular attractions include the enormous carpets hanging from the ceiling, a replica of the ancient Turkic nomadic tent, and a very serene Turkish coffee house where they brew fresh Turkish coffee over an open fire every day.
The Grand Bazaar
A place shopaholic would absolutely love is the Grand Bazaar! It is over 500 years old and is one of the largest bazaars. With approximately 60 streets it has no less than 5000 shops, 60 restaurants, 18 fountains, 12 mosques, and even a whole school inside the Bazaar. Some might call it a trap for tourists but it is not actually the scenario. It is just that the locals here can bargain better and get a better deal at the same products which bring doubts in the minds of tourists. The market is so huge you might even end up getting lost! So keep a sharp eye on where you go. The market is famous for carpets, leather, ceramics, souvenirs, and jewelry.
A quiet and peaceful place, this mosque will take you away from the hustle-bustle of the overcrowded tourist places. The mosque is designed by the renowned architect Sinan for Süleyman the Magnificent, and it indeed pays homage to them both. You can visit the visit the tombs of Süleyman and Roxalana which are located right behind the graveyard and the tomb of Sinan which is outside the complex, the mosque is not just a place for worship but it also has a complex of buildings containing a hospital, a kitchen, and a school. For all the foodies here, you can enjoy the kuru fasulye which are actually haricot beans in the Alley of Addicts.
The Chora Church
Also known as the Church of St Savior, or Kariye Museum lies in a secluded place but once you visit this place you will surely understand why it is worthy. Right beside the old city walls in the Chora/Edirnekapi, you will find the Chora Church. It is one of the best religious buildings in the entire Istanbul. The walls and ceilings if this church is decorated with staggering Byzantine mosaics and exceptional frescoes. Some of them are even considered the most valuable by the Christian community. You can appreciate the relics of the fifth-century city walls and the wooden Ottoman houses.
The place is enormous it is 600 meters in length it contains no less than 285 rooms and 43 salons. It was built to portray the declining of the Ottoman Empire was not taking place in 1856 by Sultan Abdüi Mecit. Although in the end, the result was exactly the opposite. The extravagance of the culture is clearly visible through the excessive use of gold leaf, crystals, and marble. The key features include Baccarat crystal staircase, the main bathroom, and the ceremonial hall with its 4.5-ton chandelier. As a tribute to Atatürk, who moved there after the beginning of the Turkish Republic and died on November 10, 1938, at 09:05, all the clocks in the palace always display the same time.