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Tourist attractions Istanbul

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  • 1 Sultanahmet Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Overlooking Seraglio Point, at the mouth of the Golden Horn, the Sultanahmet quarter extends across the first hill of the city, the fiefdom of Ancient Byzantium and the political and cultural heart of the Byzantine and Ottoman cities. Few places in t..

  • 2 Topkapi Palace Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Bab-i-Hümayun Cad.

    The harem with its eunuchs was a place of great intrigue, luxury and exquisite pleasure, and here in the harem of Topkapi Palace visitors are plunged into a mythical Orient of a thousand and one treasures and as many fantasies. Lattice-work screens f..

  • 3 Museum of Antiquities, Istanbul Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Museums and art

    Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu

    One of the richest collections of Antiquity in the world. Once past a monumental Roman statue of Bes, look out for the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great (4C BC), decorated with bas-reliefs and sculpture dating from Archaic, Persian, Greek and Pre-Ro..

  • 4 Church of St Saviour-in-Chora Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    Chora means "outside the walls", and refers to the fact that this 11C church was originally surrounded by countryside - the garden behind the church acts as modest reminder of this fact and is a pleasant place to rest after admiring the fin..

  • 5 Aya Sofya Basilica Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    The symbol of Byzantine glory at its zenith, and a sanctuary designed on an extraordinary scale, the 6C Aya Sofya basilica was converted into a mosque in the 15C and then a museum in 1935. Although a little clumsy in style when viewed from the exteri..

  • 6 Blue Mosque Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    This jewel of the 17C has retained its vocation as a sanctuary, hence the requirement to remove one's shoes before entering. The goal of the architect was to surpass the elegance of the Aya Sofya basilica, which he achieved via the forest of domes an..

  • 7 Suleyman's Mosque Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    Sami Onar Cad.

    The construction of this mosque was commissioned by the sultan Suleymen the Magnificent to the most talented of the architects of the 16C, Sinan, with the aim of surpassing the Aya Sofya basilica, a goal that he achieved. Perched on the third hill of..

  • 8 Rüstem Pasa Mosque Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    Hasircilar Cad.

    Rüstem Pasa mosque, a treasure of Ottoman architecture, was designed by Sinan (1561) for Rüstem Pasha, Grand Vizir and son-in-law of Suleiman the Great. It is justly famous for its Iznik ceramics, the traditional blue tones of which are enriched here..

  • 9 Beyoglu Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    The modern city that Turkey is keen to showcase to claim its place as a European nation, stretches out beyond Galata Bridge. The Beyoglu district, the heart of intellectualism in the 19C, has retained a slightly outdated feel compared to the ultra-mo..

  • 10 Modern Art Museum, Istanbul Recommended Recommended

    Museums and art

    Meclisi Mebusan Cad., Antrepo 4

    The Museum of Modern Art of Istanbul, which occupies a former customs' warehouse on the banks of the Bosphorus, was designed by architect Monica Bonvicini. Painting, sculpture, photography and video provide a fantastic insight into modern and contemp..

  • 11 Dolmabahçe Palace Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Dolmabahçe Cad.

    With its unusual cocktail of styles, such a popular feature of the 19C, the Dolmabahçe Palace is a mix of both neo-Classical European influences and Orientalism. Such eclecticism can leave visitors somewhat perplexed, a feeling enhanced by a tour of ..

  • 12 Beylerbeyi Palace Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Beylerbey Palace faces Ortaköy, on the other side of the bridge. This former summer palace, clad in marble and surrounded by gardens, was built in 1865 for the Sultan Abdülaziz (1830-1876) and hosted guests such as Empress Eugénie of France. The room..

  • 13 Cruises on the Bosphorus Recommended Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    The Bosphorus is a hive of activity, with boats constantly loading and unloading cargo and passengers between Istanbul's eastern and western shores and the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. A boat trip along the straits makes for a pleasant and relax..

  • 14 Soganli Valley Recommended Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    Nestling among the poplar trees, the village of Soganli remains largely unspoilt. The same is true of the isolated valley in which it lies, with its fanciful landscapes of steep basalt cliffs and phantasmagorical human- or animal-shaped rocks. The ta..

  • 15 Sunken Palace Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    Yerebatan Cad.

    What the Ottomans called Yerebatan Sarayi (Sunken Palace) is in fact a 6C Byzantine underground cistern that supplied water to the palace of the emperor Justinian. Clever plays of light coupled with the background dripping of water add to the theatri..

  • 16 Grand Bazaar, Istanbul Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    The Grand Bazaar is a joyful, feverish universe that can overwhelm and unsettle with its thousands of shops and workshops, caravanserais, warehouses, restaurants, fountains, banks and mosque, all of which in a maze of vaulted alleyways, crammed tight..

  • 17 Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul Interesting

    Museums and art

    At Meydani 46

    This museum is housed in the former residence of Ibrahim Pasa; this son of a Greek slave became the grand vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent. Its rooms, arranged around a central garden, house a number of splendours of decorative Islamic art from the..

  • 18 Small St Sofia Interesting

    Religious buildings

    Küçük Ayasofya Cad.

    Aya Sofya in miniature, the 6C Küçük Ayasofya mosque has retained its authentic charm despite its various restorations. First a church, and then a mosque, it retains a great feeling of serenity. Its unusual plan defies symmetry: an irregular octagon ..

  • 19 Ceramics Museum, Istanbul Interesting

    Museums and art

    The Ceramics Museum occupies a charming 15C building that was originally part of the harem of the Topkapi Palace. Its façade is covered in an attractive blue and white calligraphic frieze. Often ignored by visitors, this small museum is well worth a ..

  • 20 Büyük Valide Hani Interesting

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    The Grand Bazaar district is home to a number of caravanserai (hans) where merchants and their caravans of camels would have stayed in the past. Nowadays converted into warehouses, workshops and boutiques, these hans are hives of activity, often with..

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