Istanbul is truly unique among the big cities. Known in the past as Constantinople or Carihrad, it has preserved its oriental culture to this day. Mosques, Turkish coffee, or chaos on Turkish bazaars are all part of this metropolis. Istanbul enjoys over 12 million tourists a year visiting the Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, the largest bazaar in the world, or simply come to enjoy the cultural experience that Istanbul offers at a truly high level. In this article you will find a list of places that you must see in Istanbul.
1. Blue Mosque-Sultan Ahmet Mosque
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque has been nicknamed the Blue Mosque, according to the light-blue tiles that dome decorate. It has six minarets. This figure is justified by the misunderstanding between the Sultan and his architect. It is said that the Sultan wanted the minarets’ tips to be gold-plated, but since the construction costs could not fit within the budget, the architect decided to overwhelm the word ‘altin’ and replace it with the word ‘alti’, means six.
2. Topkapi Palace
The Topkapi Palace is one of the most visited sights in Istanbul. This impressive temple complex testifies to the great wealth of the Ottoman Empire. Up to 40,000 people lived here and the building is decorated with countless oriental ornaments. Also known is the Sultan’s Harem, which is also open to visitors. Up to 2,000 girls who were protected by an army of eunuchs lived in the harem. They were supposed to be educated in music, dance and art. Only a few of the sultan’s favorites, however, boldly bring to the world his descendants. Within the Topkapi Palace is just colorfully decorated with a popular attraction for tourists.
Address: 34093 Fatih / İstanbul
3. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
The Hagia Sophia, often translated as the Temple of the Wisdom of God, is evidence of the uniqueness of Byzantine architecture. Originally a Christian temple, it was built during the reign of Roman Emperor Justinian I, who personally supervised the course of construction almost every day. Only in the 15th century the temple was rebuilt into a mosque and today it serves as a museum.
4. Ortaköy Mosque, Istanbul
The Ortaköy Mosque boasts on the shores of the Bosphorus and is not one of the largest, most beautiful mosques in Istanbul and possibly in Turkey. This mosque is not in the historic center of the city and one really has to walk a little to see it. But the view is really worth it and especially during sunset.
Address: Büyük Mecidiye Camii (Ortaköy Camii)
5. Rainbow steps, Istanbul
Istanbul is perfect for color lovers. One of the less known but very interesting gems of this city is the rainbow stairs, otherwise called Rainbow steps. You can find them in Istanbul not only one, but several. Some have been painted in gray and look grim to the visitor, but others boast the rich colors of the rainbow.
6. Galata Tower, Istanbul
Galata Tower, otherwise known as the Christ Tower, is one of the landmarks of Istanbul. It rises on a hill in the Beyoglu district. It played an important role already in the Byzantine period, when it was the tallest building in the city. Today, tourists can visit the tower from the inside, where there are beautiful restaurants with views of the city, or simply go to the viewing platform.
One of the most colorful neighborhoods of Istanbul is a fairly large area called Balat. It may seem at first glance that this district is one of Istanbul’s highligues, but the truth is that Balat is a very poor neighborhood and is very far from the rich city center. Despite this, the group of colorful houses in this district has ranked among the popular destinations and even this romantic neighborhood remains hidden from tourists.
8. Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul
Istanbul is a unique city not only because of its history, but also because it lies on two continents – Europe and Asia. These continents are connected by the Bosphorus Bridge, which is up to 1.5 km long. Unfortunately, it is not possible to go to the other continent during a walk. The bridge is not equipped for pedestrians and you have to get to the Asian side by car. ATTENTION: Customs duty must be paid.
9. Grand Bazaar
One of the biggest attractions in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar, known as the Grand Bazaar. It was designated as the first shopping mall in history. It is famous for its size, you can find up to 4,000 shops and 25,000-40,000 tourists visit this bazaar every day. In this covered bazaar you will find all sorts of spices and teas, oriental items like lamps and plates, to souvenirs and Turkish sweets.
10. Spice Bazaar, Istanbul
Another interesting Turkish bazaar is the Spice Bazaar. This bazaar with spices will delight you with its rich colors, but also with its pungent aromas. It is an ideal place to buy a practical souvenir. You will find teas from the world industry, including the most expensive tea in the world. It is saffron, which is derived from saffron flowers. A kilo of this tea costs up to an incredible 20,000 euros. If you find a good seller here, you will also have the opportunity to taste saffron tea, in this pleasant way the merchants will entice you to buy more teas and spices.
When you visit this bazaar, you will immediately get this statement clear: There is chaos like in the Turkish bazaars.
11. Egyptian Obelisk, Istanbul
The oldest monument in Istanbul is the Egyptian obelisk from the ancient temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt, which was built during the reign of Pharaoh Tuthmos III. It is located next to the Blue Mosque. Of particular importance is the pedestal of this obelisk, which has various depictions of Pharaoh, which has gained great historical value.
12. Basilica cistern
The bassilica cistern is the tank of the Hagia Sophia. This place has not been known for a long time and was discovered, by chance. There are hundreds of Greek columns that are sometimes partially submerged in water. The meaning of the monument here are two columns depicting the ancient jellyfish Gorgona, which are turned upside down. The meaning of these statues in tankers is interpreted differently, but one of the most well-known theories is that jellyfish were supposed to protect tankers. I certainly recommend visiting these tanks to bookworms or fans of the American writer Dan Brown, who talks about them in his book Inferno.
So? Does Istanbul really have something to offer? Which monument do you like best? If you know or have visited some interesting places in Istanbul, do not hesitate to write me a comment. ? I hope you enjoyed the article.
Sights are not the only thing Istanbul has to offer. Turkey boasts excellent cuisine. See also the list of 12 dishes you simply have to taste in Istanbul.