15 Iconic Attractions in Istanbul
If you have read my previous post on Istanbul – One city, two continents, millions of souls, you are ready to go on a new adventure. You just need a list with the iconic attractions in the city. I do hope you are curious to discover as many things as possible.
Here are the ones that you should not miss:
- Mosque Tour – As I said in my previous post, a mosque tour is mandatory while visiting Istanbul. If I had to choose three, I would go for:
- Hagia Sophia – Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica, later an imperial mosque and now a museum offering glittering mosaics of Biblical scenes. It is known all over the world for its inside beauty. The entrance fee is 40 TL;
- Sultan Ahmet Mosque, situated right near Hagia Sophia. It is also known as The Blue Mosque because of blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design. Entrance is free, but donations are welcome upon exit. The mosque is closed during ritual prayer;
- Suleymaniye Camii – Ottoman Imperial mosque which impressed me with its beauty, but also because of the panoramic view of city. It is the second largest mosque in Istanbul. Entrance is free.
* New Mosque – If you decide you want more, New Mosque is the place for you. Located right in front of the Galata Bridge in the old part of the city, Eminonu quarter, it is an Ottoman Imperial mosque and one of the famous architectural landmarks of Istanbul.
- Topkapi Palace – One of the largest museums in Turkey, served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th Visiting the museum gives you the perfect opportunity to imagine the life of the sultans: opulent pavilions, jewel-filled Treasury and sprawling Harem. The most impressive part for me was the Imperial Treasury which was filled with objects made from or decorated with gold, silver, rubies, emeralds, jade, pearls and diamonds.
More info on prices and timetable: http://topkapisarayi.gov.tr/en/visit-information
- Dolmabahce Palace – It was built in 19th century and it is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world. Being located in the Besiktas district, it once served as the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire. The construction cost five million Ottoman gold lira or 35 tons of gold, the equivalent of around $1.5 billion in today’s values and has a huge contribution in deteriorating the financial situation of the Ottoman Empire.
If I recall correctly, the entrance fee is 40 TL.
- Galata Tower – Offering a great panoramic view of Istanbul, it is a medieval stone tower in the Galata/Karakoy quarter of the city. There is a restaurant and café on its upper floors where you can enjoy a Turkish Tea with a magnificent Bosphorus view. The admission fee is 20 Turkish Lira.
- Istiklal Street – This is the most famous and lively avenue in Istanbul where you can find shops and boutiques, restaurants and cafes, bookstores and art galleries. Located in the historical Beyoglu district, it starts from around Galata Tower and ultimately leads up to Taksim Square, another popular place to visit in Istanbul and our next attraction.
- Taksim Square – It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, with the central station of the Istanbul metro network. It is also the location of the Monument of the Republic. Taksim is a busy nightlife, shopping and dining district.
- Grand Bazaar – Shopping addicts should stop here first. You can find literally anything in this place. From clothes and shoes to cups and cutlery. You would better start exercising your bargaining skills.
- Spice Bazaar – It is also known as the Egyptian Bazaar and it is home for more than 85 shops where you can find spices for every kind of food you can think of. As a plus, you can also choose from a large variety of tea, dried fruits, nuts and sweets! This is probably the best place to buy souvenirs for your friends and family!
- Bosphorus – Bosphorus is a natural strait connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Bosphorus strait separates the European part from the Asian part of Istanbul and can be best observed if you go on a cruise. This is why it became one of the most known attractions of the city. Due to its strategic location, Bosphorus is a very busy waterway with many ships and oil tankers going through it, as well as local fishing and ferries go to the Asian side back and forth.
- Basilica Cistern – Huge underground Roman water source held up with 336 marble columns covering 9800 square meters. It is 1500 years old and it is located in Sultanahmet, just next to the Hagia Sophia Museum. The admission fee is 20 TL.
More info: http://yerebatan.com/homepage
- Chora Church – Chora Museum is a former Byzantine Church located in the northwest corner of Istanbul’s historical peninsula. Here is the best place to learn about history of Istanbul. One ticket costs 30 TL.
More info: http://kariye.muze.gov.tr/en
- Bridges of Istanbul – there are 8 of them, but these are the most important:
- Bosphorus Bridge – connecting the European and the Asian continent, beautiful enlightened by night;
- Galata Bridge – full of restaurants and cafes, perfect for fish lovers;
- Ataturk Bridge – is a highway bridge on the Golden Horn;
- Golden Horn Metro Bridge – is a cable-stayed bridge along the M2 line of the Istanbul Metro, spanning the Golden Horn.
! Tip: I recommend going by foot from Galata Bridge to Dolmabahce Palace. I know it is quite a long walk, around 30 minutes or so, but you can find a gem of Istanbul: Rainbow Stairs (on the left side of the road) and also some pretty colorful art street. Maybe the pictures will convince you.
See you soon!
Blonde around the World ❤
*** All pictures without the Blonde around the World watermark from this travel blog are from Google. All the credit goes to the rightful owners.