Istanbul is located in northwestern Turkey and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It straddles the Bosphorus Strait and spans over two continents – Europe and Asia. Istanbul, formerly Constantinople and Byzantium, is a city steeped with history. It served as the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, remnants of which are visible through numerous monuments, now major tourist attractions. The city is also a major shopping zone with some of the largest malls of Europe. Several sporting cultural events along with a pounding nightlife make Istanbul one of the most vibrant cities of the world. Here is a list of 10 must visit attractions when touring this historical city.
- Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is an ancient cistern that was once used to supply to the city. Although it dates back to the 3rd and 4th centuries, this large cistern has been very well preserved and is today a major tourist attraction of Istanbul. It is locally known as Yerebatan Samici, which loosely translates to “Cistern Sinking Into the Ground.” Located hardly 150 meters from Hagia Sophia, the cistern is 150 meters below the ground and gets its name from a basilica it replaced. 52 stone steps lead to the entrance of this cistern which is nothing short of an work of art. It is decorated with several Ionic- and Corinthian-styled marble and granite columns.
- Istanbul Cevahir
The Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre, or simply the Cevahir Mall, is one of the largest shopping malls in the world and a major attraction of Istanbul. It was opened in 2005 and is home to 348 shops, 48 restaurants, a dozen cinema halls, and even a roller coaster! The glass roof of the mall has the 2nd biggest clock in the world, having digits with a height of 3 meters! This swanky mall is located is the Sisli district of Istanbul.
- Dolmabahce Palace
The Dolmabahce Palace is located on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait, in the district of Besiktas. This magnificent palace served as the primary administrative center of the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Dolmabahce Palace was completed in 1856 after 13 years of construction. It was built in a fusion of Rococo, Baroque, and Neoclassical styles of architecture. Parts of the palace are open to the public, making it a must-see attraction of Istanbul. The stunning interiors are a true reflection of the power and glory of the Ottoman Empire.
- Spice Bazaar
The Spice Bazaar may not be as large as the Grand Bazaar but remains one of the most prominent tourist attractions of Istanbul. The Turkish name of the market translates to “Egypt Bazaar,” as it was built with revenues from an Ottoman colony in Egypt. Spice Bazaar, as the name suggests, is home to the spice shops of the city. However, with the passing of time, these are being replaced with shops selling various other products. Along with spices, the bazaar now also sells jewelry, sweets, and dry fruits.
- Topkapi Palace
Located in the historical area of Istanbul, the Topkapi Palace is one of the major attractions of the city. It is a huge palace complex that served as the royal residence to the Ottoman rulers for almost 4 centuries between 1465 and 1856. It is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During its days of glory, the complex was home to nearly 4000 people. The complex included, along with the royal palace, bakeries, hospital, mosques, and even a mint! It went through many renovations, expansions, and restorations to get its present day look. The Topkapi Palace is now a prominent museum, especially of the Muslim world. Two of its most noteworthy collections include the cloak and sword of Muhammad the Prophet.
- Hammams of Istanbul
The Turkish Baths, or Hamams, are major attractions in many cities across Europe – so there is no way you should miss out on a Turkish Bath while visiting Istanbul. The city once had 237 hamams, 60 of which are still in use – so finding one should not be too difficult. These baths are located in both the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. Visit one of these baths after a long day of sightseeing and shopping and you will feel rejuvenated in no time.
- Blue Mosque
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque, is a major tourist attraction of Istanbul. It was constructed in 1616 and gets its name from the beautiful handcrafted blue tiles that adorn the interior. The mosque is beautifully bathed in colored lights after sundown. This huge mosque, which can accommodate 10,000 people at a time, has 6 minarets that pierce into the skyline of Istanbul, each rising to a height of 64 meters. The architecture is a fusion of Late Ottoman and Byzantine, along with Islamic elements.
- New Mosque
The Yeni Cami, or New Mosque, is a grand imperial mosque that is located on the Golden Horn, along the southern flank of the Galata Bridge. The mosque is one of the most prominent architectural and tourist landmarks of Istanbul. It is made of granite, marble, and stone, and was completed in 1665. The main dome of the mosque has a height of 36 meters and it has 65 smaller domes alongside it in a pyramidal structure. The interior is decorated with colored tiles.
- Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia is one of the most prominent landmarks and attractions of the city of Istanbul. This stunning piece of architecture was constructed in 537 AD and has since served various roles. It was originally built as a Christian church by Byzantine ruler Justinian I. Over the centuries it was made into a Greek Orthodox cathedral, a Roman catholic church, and an imperial mosque. Hagia Sophia was finally secularized and converted to a museum in 1935. The highlight of the building is its massive dome which still stands as the finest example of the grandeur of the Byzantine architecture.
- Grand Bazaar
In 2014, the Grand Bazaar was ranked the most-visited attraction in the world, with over 91 million visitors! During the peak tourist season, it can attract up to nearly half a million visitors in a day! The Grand Bazaar was established in 1455 and remains one of the major markets in the city of Istanbul to this day! It is considered to be the oldest covered market in the world and is home to nearly 3000 shops. The bazaar is part of the old walled city of Istanbul. The bazaar sells a wide array of products, ranging from spices and traditional lanterns to jewelry and souvenirs.
Originally posted 2017-06-07 06:57:59.