Istanbul – it is an amazing combination of grandiose history in every square meter of the city and a distinctive, momentary atmosphere: the rumble of seagulls, the smell of fish and roasted chestnuts, the importance of thousands of street cats.
We have compiled a selection of thirty highlights of the city so you don't miss out on the highlights.
1. The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)
The main Muslim shrine of Turkey, built at the beginning of the 17th century by order of Ahmed I. For the construction of the mosque, the ancient Roman hippodrome amphitheater on Sultanahmet Square was dismantled, the materials were used for construction.
The mosque has equaled the number of minarets with the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca, causing a split in the Islamic world. During worship, the entrance to the mosque for non-Muslims is closed, at other times you can go in and appreciate the grandeur of the interior decoration.
2. The Bosphorus
Bosphorus – the narrowest strait in the world between the continents, it connects the Marmara and Black Seas. To feel yourself between Europe and Asia and watch the city from the water – be sure to take a ferry or boat ride along the Bosphorus. You can board the ship at the marinas:
But if you don’t like boat trips – from the embankments filled with cafes, restaurants and the smell of fried fish, you can watch the rich life of the old city.
3. Hagia Sophia
A place with a long and complicated history. In the 6th century, a Christian church was built here, but nine centuries after the conquest of Constantinople, the building was transformed into a mosque. In the 20th century, Hagia Sophia became a museum where everyone could appreciate the merging and confrontation of two religions in one majestic building.
Recently, the Turkish government issued a decree according to which Hagia Sophia again acquired the status of a mosque. Divine services are held here, but the rest of the time the entrance for visitors is free and free.
4. Golden Horn Bay
An eight-kilometer-long bay on the European part of the city, along the banks of which are located the ancient, but ennobled districts of Istanbul. Previously, the Golden Horn was a harbor for Byzantine merchant and military ships, now – one of the main tourist areas.
5. Sultanahmet Square
The central square of Istanbul is always noisy and crowded. During the time of Constantinople, there was a hippodrome here, and now they hold:
< p>The modern square is full of ancient surprises like an ancient Greek serpentine column and obelisks of two Byzantine emperors.
6. Gulhane Park
The gigantic territory of the park next to the Topkapi Palace is amazing with the diversity of flora. Late spring is especially good here – flowers, bushes and fruit trees bloom, creating an incredibly beautiful colorful canvas of the Istanbul landscape.
It is better to budget at least two hours for visiting the park in order to have time to relax, eat local food, observe the life of people and even visit the zoo.
7. Taksim Square
Taksim – the key square of Istanbul, through which absolutely all tourist routes pass. And this is logical, because the main transport hub of the city is located here: a metro station, a funicular station, a little further from the bus stop square for all directions.
You can also take the tourist tram here – the only mode of transport that runs along Istiklal Street is completely pedestrian.
8. Istiklal Street
The most popular tourist street in Istanbul is one and a half kilometers long. Here you can feel the lively atmosphere of the city, arrange shopping, eat in the best restaurants and cafes, have a snack on roasted chestnuts, and buy oriental sweets in a confectionery founded in 1864.
Istiklal originates from Taksim Square and will lead you to the Galata tower.
9. Grand Bazaar
The largest covered market in the world is located near the Blue Mosque. This is not just a bazaar, but a whole trading city in which it is easy to get lost. Here you can not only buy souvenirs, but also eat, admire the fountains and smoke a hookah.
10. Topkapi Palace
The former residence of the Turkish sultans in the 20th century, turned into a museum. The huge area of the palace consists of four courtyards and will give you a detailed idea of the life of the sultans and their courtiers, of the history of the Turkish Empire in all periods of its existence.
11. Chora Monastery (Kariye Museum)
Another Byzantine church, which later became a mosque, however, unlike Hagia Sophia, it has retained almost its original appearance. The frescoes on the walls were restored already in the 20th century. Now the church functions as a museum, which anyone can get into.
12. City walls of Constantinople
The walls of Constantinople were erected in the 5th century, and now fragments with a total length of almost six kilometers have been preserved in Istanbul. The walls were destroyed both by the Turkish rulers and by earthquakes. Today they have been partially restored, but restoration is still going on somewhere.
13. Galata Tower
The tallest and most recognizable tower in the city, which can be seen from any area. Previously, the tower served as a fire tower until a museum was opened here in the 20th century.
For 100 lira you can climb to the observation deck, which offers a picturesque panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.
14. Galata Bridge
The Galata Bridge connects the two banks of the Golden Horn Bay. This is a two-tier design – at the bottom of the bridge there is a zone of fish restaurants, and from above – road and pedestrian crossings. At the same time, the middle part of the bridge is movable.
At any time and in any season, you will see a crowd of fishermen who place themselves on the bridge with buckets and fishing rods, and later sell their catch in the market. The best time to visit the Galata Bridge – evening, when all the numerous illuminations are turned on.
15. Bosphorus Bridge
For many centuries people have thought about crossing the Bosphorus, but only in the 20th century was the Bosphorus Bridge built. You can get to it only by car, and the fare is paid.
The bridge was opened for pedestrians only in the first four years after the completion of construction, due to the huge number of suicide cases, the entrance to the bridge was closed. It is now only open to those who run the annual Istanbul Marathon.
16. Princes' Islands
An archipelago in the Sea of Marmara, 25 kilometers from Istanbul. Four islands are landscaped and have a comfortable infrastructure, the rest are uninhabited. You can get to the largest island of Buyukada by ferry from Katabash Square.
There are eleven temples on Buyukada serving different religions and denominations. On almost any of the inhabited islands, you can ride horses or donkeys.
17. Suleymaniye Mosque
For a long time, this mosque was considered the largest in Turkey, until a new – mosque Chalmydzha. Suleymaniye, besides its size, impresses with its design, many precious stones are used in the decoration, and special resonating jugs provide amazing acoustics.
18. Basilica Cistern
This is an underground reservoir near the Hagia Sophia mosque. For its construction, ancient Roman columns were used, which can now be examined carefully. If you are traveling during hot weather – this place will not only immerse you in the world of ancient Constantinople, but also shelter you from the heat and heat.
19. Maiden's Tower
There is a legend that one of the Turkish sultans imprisoned his daughter in the tower to protect her from the predicted death on the day of her majority. But the prophecy came true, and the girl died from a snake bite. Now in the tower, located on a small island in the Bosphorus, there is only:
- souvenir shop,
- observation deck overlooking the city.
20. Dolmabahce Palace
An atypical Turkish Baroque palace was built in the 19th century to compete in luxury with other European palaces. Now it is the residence of the Prime Minister of Turkey, but most of the territory of the palace is open to visitors.
21. Mihrimah Sultan Mosque
The mosque in the Fatih district is distinguished by the history – this is a rare case when the mosque was built and named after a woman, in this case Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of padishah Suleiman. The mosque has only one minaret and a huge number of windows through which you can observe the amazing effect of refraction of the sun's rays. It is said that at a certain position of the sun, the mosque is filled with iridescent light.
22. Miniaturk Park
The largest park-museum of miniatures in the world, which allows you to appreciate the scale and geography of all the sights of Istanbul and the surrounding area in a short time. The park is great for a family outing: there is a mini train, a labyrinth, restaurants to eat and relax, and parking.
23. Church of Hagia Irene
The only Christian church in Istanbul that has not been converted into a mosque. This church was the first Christian basilica during the time of Constantinople, although its current appearance differs from the original, the church was destroyed and rebuilt in the 6th century.
24. Rustem Pasha Mosque
The mosque of the 16th century is famous primarily for its unusual decoration. The walls are decorated with Iznik mosaic tiles, which you can endlessly look at and admire the patterns. You can enter the mosque during periods free from worship.
25. Fatih Mosque
The first and main mosque built by the Turks in Constantinople after its conquest. It is named after Mehmed II Fatih, whose tomb is located right there.
26. Rumelihisar Fortress
The fortress was built in a record 139 days in the narrowest part of the Bosporus, and this helped the Turks to leave ancient Constantinople without grain supplies, merchant ships simply could not sail in this place. Now on the territory of the fortress there is a museum and a modern mosque.
27. Yedikule Fortress
Earlier, the fortress served as a treasury for the Turkish sultans. Then it was transformed into a prison, and later into a school.
Now it is a museum open to visitors, anyone can admire the views of Istanbul from the fortress wall, see the Golden Gate, through which emperors entered Constantinople, and seven towers built much later by order of Sultan Mehmet.
28. Archaeological Museum
Even if you are not interested in archeology, the collection of the Istanbul Museum will impress you. There are indeed many originals of the ancient cultures of Rome and Greece, for example, fragments of sculptures from the temple of Zeus in Pergamon, the Sidon sarcophagus and tombs dating back to the 4th-5th centuries.
29. Aqueduct of Valens
The complex engineering structure of the two-tiered aqueduct from the time of Constantinople amazes with its scale and thoughtfulness even for modern man. Once this system completely provided water supply to the city, now you can walk around the ancient kilometer-long structure and take beautiful photos.
30. Egyptian Bazaar
Once upon a time, this bazaar was called New, but in the 18th century goods from Egypt began to be sold here, and the name changed by itself. Here you can find anything from spices and souvenirs to interior items and clothing.
The market building itself fascinates with its painted vaults, and on the square in front of the covered bazaar there are two more – floral and birdy. The building itself houses the famous Pandeli Restaurant, which has been serving delicious food since 1901.