Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey in terms of economy and population and is among the 15 largest metropolitan cities in the world. It is a city located on 2 continents, Asia and Europe with lots of cultural mixes and a rich historical background from both continents. Bosphorus connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and then opens to the Mediterranean sea. This strait separates the Asian side from the European side, which takes only 2 minutes by driving!
The facts that make Istanbul remarkably beautiful are the magnificent architectural remains of different histories of empires and cultures, gorgeous seasides and bridges, islands, green forest areas, delicious Turkish cuisine, spice bazaar, energetic social activities, art galleries, museums, beautiful antiques, international sport tournaments and concerts, seasonal festivals and much more is waiting for you in this beautiful city. Here are some beautiful places worth visiting in Istanbul :
The Hagia Sophia means “holy wisdom”, and was built under the direction of the East Roman Empire in the 6th century. It is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Hagia Sophia (Known as Ayasofya in Turkish) was built as a church but then changed to a mosque, when Fatih Sultan Mehmet Han (One of the greatest Ottoman Emperors) took over the City, Istanbul used to be known as Constantinople and today it is used as a museum having millions of international tourist visitors every year. There are spectacular Byzantine mosaics inside this beautiful building. The architectural work is amazing with great marble structures, calligraphic work, stunning interiors, gold, and bronze lamps. You can hire a guide for a walk inside who can tell you about the history of Hagia Sophia or you can simply download a program they offer over there for you and listen to it while examining different parts of this marvelous place.
The Blue Mosque also known as Sultanahmet Mosque is one of the most prominent historical places in Istanbul. The name of this mosque comes from its blue color and interior. It is an extraordinary Ottoman structure with astonishing architectural work, calligraphies, beautiful lights, tile work, stained glass windows with beautiful designs and is visited by millions of people each year. It is also an active mosque open for prayers 5 times a day and also tourists can visit this place. It has admirable huge green gardens. This Mosque is located at the same place as the Hagia Sophia so you can easily visit both these places in one day.
Basilica Cistern is also known as the “ sunken palace or cistern ”. This place was built by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century and it served as a major water reservoir for Constantinople at that time. There are many mysterious facts about this place like Medusa’s head which is upside down and under a pillar attracting many tourists and locals and the Hens eye column also known as the tear or crying column when you touch this column it is wet compared to the other columns. This pillar was built as a tribute to the slaves who died during the construction of this place. It is a magical and mysterious place to visit with a cool, dark environment and water dripping sounds.
This is also one of the most popular sites which are frequently visited by locals and tourists. Topkapi Palace is a Turkish word which means “Gate of Cannons” because of the cannons displayed outside the gates, which were once used during the invasion. This is one of the largest palaces located inside one city. The architectural designs are mainly from the middle-eastern side. This palace was later converted into a museum by Ataturk and is open to the public. You can visit this place and view the amazing courtyards, gardens with beautiful old trees, pools, ornaments, great gates, beautiful carvings and stained glass designs, rooms where once sultans lived and exhibitions halls where many gorgeous antiques that belonged to the sultans and Holy relics are displayed.
- Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Istanbul archaeological museum consists of 3 grand museums known as the: Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art, and the Museum of Ancient Orient in the same place. There are many worthy treasures on display from the Assyrian, Hittite, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations. There are many known and remarkable pieces of history displayed at these museums where people from all over the world come to visit such as the ancient coffins and tombstones, including the glorious sarcophagus that is believed to have been made for Alexander the Great and other beautiful collections such as sculptures and mosaics are displayed from different civilizations. It is located at a short distance from Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
Istanbul’s grand bazaar is one of the oldest, largest, and most famous bazaars known all over the world. A variety of things are available such as the colorful lanterns hanging from the ceiling, gorgeous ceramic plates and dishes, beautiful Turkish carpets, antiques, clothes, scented organic soaps, aromatic spices, Turkish tea and coffee, leather goods, bronze/copper pots, and pitchers, books, jewelry and much more. There are four entrance gates to this bazaar beautifully constructed with impressive architecture. Most people have set up stalls for selling and displaying their stuff. You can come here for shopping and buy souvenirs for your friends or relatives. It is about 20 mins of walking distance from The Blue Mosque.
The Galata Tower is one of the oldest and highest towers in Istanbul. It was built in the 14th century by Genoese as a defense wall surrounding their area and a beacon point to detect any fire dangers in the city. The height of this tower from the bottom to the top peak is 69,90 meters. It has a beautiful panoramic view of Istanbul, you can view the beautiful buildings and the sea from the top of the tower. This place also has a gorgeous restaurant where you can enjoy your dinner along with a beautiful view. You can buy the tickets at the ticket booth inside the tower.
Miniaturk is one of the world’s biggest miniature parks where historical and architectural miniatures are displayed from all around Turkey, it covers around 60,000 square meters. Also, there is an audio guide available in many languages near the monuments where you can select your preferred language. It’s a great place for you to visit with your family and learn about the history of these beautiful places in our country.
Maiden’s Tower is located in the Salacak neighborhood of Üsküdar district. It is one of the most famous places with many mysterious legendary tales. One of the most famous tales tells that a Byzantine emperor had a daughter and he demands his scholars to train his daughter for the throne, but the oldest of the scholars had a prophecy that the emperor’s daughter would be stung by a snake before she turned eighteen. So he tells the emperor and he sends away his daughter to a tower in the middle of the sea so that no snake would be able to reach her, but unfortunately on her eighteenth birthday when they were about to celebrate a snake comes out of the fruit basket and stings the emperor’s daughter that is when the emperor realizes that nothing could be put against fate and sadly accepts the situation. Maiden’s tower has been used for many purposes in the past such as defense tower, lighthouse, tax collection area, hospital, radio station, and again used as a lighthouse, but right now it is being used as a public restaurant and wedding hall. It’s a great place to visit in the summer.
Taksim Square is one of the most well-known places. Many restaurants, hotels, shopping areas, bars, nightclubs, theaters, and galleries are available in this area. There are also many other shows, festivals, and concerts on important days of the year. This place is mainly known by the most important “ Independence Monument” in the Istiklal street of Taksim and also the red tramway that moves around Taksim square is well known by people. It is a very lively and social place where many locals and tourists come to visit.