Istanbul has a rich historical and cultural past, while having a surprisingly modern atmosphere, and is a metamorphosis of Asian and European culture in all respects. From mosques, churches, basilicas to cathedrals, bazaars, local delicatessens and their usual way of being, this mixture of culture that Turkey brings through a fusion of East and West are clearly visible in all aspects of its existence. With an abundance of places to visit in Istanbul, it is very difficult to narrow down the list to a number of activities and the best places to visit in Istanbul, especially if you are a history buff. However, after thinking about it a lot, we have prepared a list for you that will make your trip to Istanbul an unforgettable one.
The Blue Mosque
Located in the heart of Istanbul, the magnificent Blue Mosque was built in 1616 by Sultan Ahmet and is a complete architectural marvel. It got its name from the thousands of intricately designed blue tiles that decorate the mosque. Also known as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, it is actively visited to offer prayers five times a day and therefore the best time to visit it is mid-morning and afternoon.
This beautiful street, which is one of the best places to visit in Istanbul, is a complete pedestrian crossing. Covered with thousands of tourists and locals every day, can be easily added to the list of places to visit in Istanbul. The street is filled with galleries, theaters, bars and 19th century buildings, which gives it a very old school atmosphere with a touch of modernism.
Hotels in Topkapi
The Topkapi Palace was once home to the sultans of Ottoman and his family and served as their family home for more than 600 years. The palace is now open to the public to explore the beautiful culture, the awesome architecture, the beautiful paintings and sculptures on the ceilings and walls, making it one of the best tourist places to visit in Istanbul. One can easily spend more than half a day in the Palace admiring the beauty and discovering all that the place has to offer
The Hagia Sophia Mosque
The Aya Sofia Mosque formerly known as the Hagia Sophia Mosque was a church that was after converted into a mosque when the country was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. It is no longer an active place of worship, but rather has been transformed into a museum with beautiful mosaics and intricate details that will blow your mind and is a place to visit in Istanbul.
Galata Towers, one of the best places to visit in Istanbul
Replacing the original tower finished during the fall of Constantinople, this medieval tower was renovated in 1348. You can take a lift to the top to get a panoramic view of the Bosphorus, which makes it the perfect place to take fun photos. There is also a restaurant and a nightclub at the top of the tower for people to enjoy. This tower can be quite crowded and therefore it is advisable to reach the place as early as possible in the morning.
Dolmabahce Palace is located on 11 hectares of land and is the largest palace in all of Turkey. With strong European influences, the palace has 285 different rooms, 46 halls and huge lawns in front, which makes it a complete enchantress. It was originally commissioned by the 31st sultan who wanted a house quite modern than the Topkapi Palace. The palace is also home to the largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in the world which was gifted to the sultan by Queen Victoria as a token of appreciation.
If you’re in the mood for something unique, head to the 1,500-year-old basilica cistern located away from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul city. This cistern is considerably large, decorated with dim lights and has sounds of water in the background, making it a completely unique and soothing experience.
The walls of Constantinople
These walls were built in the fifth century by Constantine the Great to protect the city of Istanbul from any strike by land or sea. As the growth of the city began to exceed its walls, parts of it were demolished to meet the growing needs. These walls can be seen near the church of Chora when passing and coming to the old town. The demolished walls are now being restored to restore them to their original shape.
Sailing on the Bosphorus
The Bosphorus is a magnificent 32-kilometer stretch that connects the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, which also bisects the European and Asian sides. Sailing through the seas at night gives you a beautiful view of the historical buildings and the city as a whole.
Egyptian Spice Market
If you want to get a real taste of Turkish culture, food and local life, the Egyptian spice market is definitely not something you would want to miss. The market has a relaxed and fun atmosphere and the vendors are open for lots of haggling. Go and choose from some of the Egyptian spices to replicate some of the delicious recipes that Turkey has to offer once you return home.
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest markets in the whole world with more than 3000 vendors who accumulate every day to go about their regular sales. Feel free to find anything and everything you want, or you have to go shopping in Istanbul under the roof in this market. From clothes, textiles, carpets, lamps, jewelry, spice blends, antiques, this bazaar is one of the best shopping streets in Istanbul and not just your usual street market.
Carpet Museum, one of the best places to visit in Istanbul
Whether you are an art geek or not, the carpet museum is sure to surprise you in more ways than one. Visit this museum to get an overview of the carpet heritage, understand the intricacies of the culture and the different materials it uses before buying your own.
Istanbul will pull the strings of your heart in many ways and will be worth every day that you decide to spend here. Visit the Thomas Cook website today to book a trip with your friends and family!