Top 10 The Absolutely Must-Sees While In Amazing Istanbul

Tags: #Istanbul ,   #GrandBazaar ,   #BlueMosque ,   #HagiaSophia

Alex O'Brien

Alex O'Brien

Last updated:  2021-09-27 13:37:47

The former capital of Turkey is quite fascinating, vivid, unique, and among the best city breaks. The old city preserved all its ancient charm while the modern area has developed around it. With lots of mosques and thrilling monuments, this city captures everyone's soul and stomach. So if you wish to wake up feeling like you traveled in time, you can just hop off to Istanbul and its old city. However, if you more into contemporary architecture, all you need is to cross over to the other side, where an urban city awaits you. So let's take a look at the must-sees when in Istanbul. 

10. Archaeological Museum

The most prominent artifact in the Archaeological Museum is Alexander Sarcophagus

The Archaeological Museum is the first Turkish museum, founded in 1891. Moreover, it's the most important as well, consisting of more than one million artifacts. Yet, that isn't strange considering the great conquests Ottoman Empire had during its reign. So to keep all the treasury, it consists of three museums - the Archaeological Museum, the Tiled Kiosk Museum, and the Ancient Orient Museum.

Among the rich collection of Turkish, Roman, and Hellenistic artifacts stands Alexander Sarcophagus, once prepared for Alexander the Great. 

9. Galata Bridge And Galata Tower

Galata Bridge is a vivid place, especially in the evening (Photo: smuldur/pixabay.com)

Galata Bridge stretches over the Golden Horn. You can catch the most impressive views of the city from the bridge at sunset or during the night when the Mosques are litten up. Moreover, this is one of the favorite walking touristic routes, packed with food vendors, restaurants, and bars underneath the bridge.

Beautiful Galata Tower from the 14th century was once a jail and a fire watchtower for spotting fires. Today this is the best viewpoint in the city, with restaurants on its upper floors. Galata Tower is also used as a museum with exhibition areas.

8. Taksim Square

Taksim Square is the heart of modern Istanbul (Photo: MuratSoyluoglu/pixabay.com)

Urban Taksim Square is the central part of modern Istanbul, packed with restaurants, hotels, and shops. Moreover, this is where Istiklal Avenue ends but is also a stop for nostalgic Istiklal Caddesi Tram. Today it is a leading transportation hub in the city. On Taksim, all major shows are held, such as all significant public concerts, parades, New Year's Eve celebrations, etc.

Dominating the square is the Independence Monument honoring the founding of the Turkish Republic and the Turkish Independence War. Next to Taksim is a beautiful Gezi Park, perfect for resting and observing vivid city life. Moreover, leading from the square, there are two charming neighborhoods, Cihangir – known for excellent coffee, and Cukurcuma – prized for its antique shops.

7. Istiklal Avenue

Istiklal Avenue is always crowded (Photo: Samueles/pixabay.com)

This pedestrian street is the busiest in Istanbul, and it's filled with boutiques, cafes, restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, and much more. Moreover, 0.87 miles long, Istiklal Avenue is surrounded by gorgeous buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the boulevard's attractions is a historic İstiklal Caddesi Tram that operates with three stops on the crowded pedestrian street. 

The trams used to be the primary transportation way back, but this old line was revived in 1990 as a tourist attraction. The Avenue hosts parades and festivals, including the International Istanbul Film Festival – the oldest of its kind in Turkey. 

6. Dolmabahce Palace

One of the most beautiful mansions in the city is Dolmabahce Palace (Photo: FOTOSUAT/pixabay.com)

An impressive Dolmabahce Palace represents a perfect blend of traditional Ottoman architecture with a European style influenced by Baroque, Neoclassical, and Rococo. Settled at Bosphorus coastline, this luxurious Palace is often compared to the Versailles Palace for its beauty. The exterior is stunning, occupying over 11 acres. Moreover, the interior is marvelous as well, holding the world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier.

This was the Ottoman Empire administrative center and the residence of six sultans from the mid 19th century till the beginning of the 20th century. The last resident was Ataturk, founding father of the Republic of Turkey, who died here in 1938.

5. Cisterna Basilica

Cisterna Basilica is a remarkable underground cistern (Photo: salihaltuntas/pixabay.com)

Way back, the underground cistern provided water for the Topkapi Palace. This lovely cathedral-size cistern lies underneath a large public square. Today, it holds just a bit of water, and it's a tourist attraction. However, once you step into it, it's a whole different ambiance than above it, as the dimmed lights give this ancient place some magical atmosphere. The ceiling is supported by marble columns made in Ionic and Corinthian style. Some of the columns have been brought here after the conquest, so the setting is unique. 

One of the main attractions is two column bases with carved Medusa's heads. These were brought here after some defeat and placed upside down and sideways. There are many theories about it, but more likely, the placing was done only for supporting the columns. 

4. Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar is one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets (Photo: Sooooophiesticated/pixabay.com)

Opened in the 15th century, the Grand Bazaar represents one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets. Today this is a city within a city, as among shops is a police station, post, prayer places, restaurants, cafes, and even hammam.

This vivid place is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Istanbul with a long tradition. Therefore, we can almost say that haggling is obligatory here. Moreover, you can find the best souvenirs such as spices, ceramics, rugs, jewelry and get a pretty low price for it if you know how to bargain. Furthermore, besides the shopping, the place is quite interesting as all the fuss and the colors of the products make it eye-catching.

3. Topkapi Palace

During the 15th and 16th century Topkapi Palace was Sultan's residence (Photo: falco/pixabay.com)

During the 15th and the 16th century, Topkapi Palace was the administrative headquarter of the Ottoman sultans and their primary residence. This place consists of four main courtyards and few additional buildings. Moreover, it includes a harem where the women of the Sultan's family lived.

After the glory period, the Palace lost its importance, as the Sultans from the 17th-century preferred to live in the palaces on Bosphorus. So at the beginning of the 20th-century, Topkapi became a museum attracting many visitors each year. The main allure is the intrigue about life back then with eunuchs and up to 300 women in the Sultan's harem.

2. Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque is one of the most impressive landmarks in Istanbul (Photo: vedatzorluer/pixabay.com)

The Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as Blue Mosque, is one of the most impressive landmarks in Istanbul. This gorgeous structure was built between 1609 and 1616 on the remains of an old Byzantine palace. It has six minarets surrounding it, and it's still active and closed for tourists during prayers.

Blue Mosque is named after the hand-painted blue tiles used for decorating the interior. Moreover, the decoration is quite interesting, with lots of stained-glass windows, ornaments, impressive chandeliers, and the floors covered with carpets. During the evening, the Mosque is lit up, gaining an even more impressive look.

1. Hagia Sophia

Beautiful Hagia Sophia had a turbulent past (Photo: Mojpe/pixabay.com)
Cover photo: Alpcem/pixabay.com

Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya has a turbulent past and perhaps the future. It was built in 537, and at the time, it was the largest church in Byzantine Empire. Later on, in the 15th century, the minarets were added to the church. Hence it was repurposed as a mosque before it became a museum in 1935. However, this use didn't last long as in 2020, once again, it was converted into a mosque.

The interior of Hagia Sophia is impressive and like no other. It represents a collision of two religions, so when inside, you can see remainings of Christian and Muslim religious influences.

While we've done our best to capture it, there is so much more to Istanbul than this. That's why you'll have to explore a bit more if you visit it for more than a few days. We can only tell you, you won't be bored, as the city has a lot to offer. We didn't even scratch the surface of the delicious food and beverages of Turkish cuisine. These ones we'll leave to our drinks and food section, so keep on reading! 

Have you ever visited Istanbul? What did you like the best? Please leave your impressions in the comment section below.


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