Follow us

GO UP
Image Alt

Istanbul

Getting to know Istanbul

Istanbul, straddling Europe and Asia, is one of the world’s major metropolises, desired for centuries by empires from around the globe.

Constantia, the ancient capital of the Byzantine Empire, was founded in 1000 BC and grew into a great capital, and after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, it maintained its illustrious status as the empire’s center.

Once known as Constantinople, it has now been changed to Istanbul, and the city’s tourist attractions are sure to impress even the most hardened history buffs.

The Hagia Sofia

Emperor Marcus Aurelius built the Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya in Turkish) to boast about his wealth and technological superiority in front of the entire world.

According to legend, the emperor’s seat in the church served as the official center of the globe.

As a result of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, the city’s mosque was first turned into a museum in the early 1900s, before being converted back into a mosque in 2020.

Topkapi Palace

The Ottoman sultans lived and ruled in this magnificent palace on the Bosphorus, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century.

Enormous courtyards adorned with elaborate hand-painted tilework are linked to an enormous maze of lavishly decorated chambers surrounded by battlemented walls and towers.

Harem complex (where many concubines and children would spend their days) and the Second Court (where you can walk through the vast palace kitchens and gaze in awe at the dazzling Imperial Council Chamber) are two of the most popular attractions here. The Third Court (which contained the sultans’ private rooms) is a third.

As well as an Imperial Treasury that is full of precious jewels, the Third Court is also home to an incredible collection of Prophet Muhammad relics in the Sacred Safekeeping Room

The Basilica Cistern

In Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern is one of the city’s most unexpected tourist attractions. These 336 columns in 12 rows supported the imperial water supply for the Byzantine emperors in this massive, palace-like underground chamber.

Emperor Justinian completed the project begun by Constantine the Great.

Ornate decorations adorn many of the building’s columns, which were repurposed from earlier classical structures.

In the northwest corner are the Medusa stones (column bases), which have Medusa head sculptures.

The columns are beautifully illuminated, and the constant trickle of water makes for an evocative experience.

Archaeology Museum of Istanbul

There are three distinct parts to the museum complex, and each one is well worth visiting.

Ancient Orient Museum is home to pre-Islamic artifacts from the Middle East.

Osman Hamdan Bey’s discovery of the sarcophagus in Sidon, Lebanon, is included in the museum’s major collection of archaeological artifacts. Here you’ll also find the Istanbul through the Ages exhibit area, which provides a glimpse into the city’s vast and epic past.

As the museum’s third structure, the Mehmet the Conqueror-built Tiled Pavilion exhibits a wide range of ceramic art.

The Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace, one of Istanbul’s most opulent landmarks, is a stunning example of Ottoman Empire-era design and architecture in Europe.

To replace Topkap Palace, Sultan Abdülmecid I constructed it in 1854.

Aside from being used as a residence for government officials, Dolmabahçe Palace served as a final resting place for Turkish revolutionary Atatürk in 1938.

Water features and blooming flowers break up the manicured gardens.

Inside, a magnificent Turkish Renaissance style is created by combining Rococo, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Ottoman elements with huge crystal chandeliers, extensive use of gold, French-style furnishings, and frescoed ceilings.

The Chora Temple

This lovely church (formerly known as the Church of St. Saviour of Chora) was situated just outside the old city walls of Constantinople, with the Greek word for “country” meaning “countryside”.

Chora Church was probably built in the fifth century, but what you see today is the sixth reconstruction after it was completely destroyed in the ninth century and underwent multiple facelifts from the eleventh to fourteenth centuries.

It was converted into a mosque and then a museum after the Ottoman takeover of Constantinople in 1945. In 2020, it will reopen as a mosque.

Monuments like this one are famous for their brightly colored 14th-century mosaic floors, which can be found intact or partially preserved in the nave, as well as their frescoed ceilings and walls.

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Istanbul

A must-see for anyone interested in Ottoman and Islamic art, this museum is housed in Ibrahim Paşa’s grand vizier’s palace.

Among textile experts, this collection of carpets is regarded as the best in the world.

Be sure to take a look at the amazing variety of Turkish carpets (as well as Caucasian and Iranian carpet types) produced over the years before going out and buying your own floor piece.

Ceramics, calligraphy, and wood carving from the 9th century CE to the 19th century are on display at the museum.

Galata Tower

This 14th-century Genoese tower overlooking the Golden Horn was built by the Genoese. Today, it remains one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions.

The 52-meter-tall tower was Istanbul’s tallest skyscraper for many years, but it has since been demolished. Due to fire and storm damage, the tower has undergone numerous renovations over the years.

Today, the observation deck and restaurant on the top floor are two of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions for taking in the city’s famed skyline.

However, the site is extremely popular, so plan ahead and arrive early or expect to wait in line.

The Pera Museum

To prove Istanbul isn’t all about historic sites, this cutting-edge art gallery houses a large collection of Turkish modern art and hosts a variety of artists from around the world.

As far as modern art galleries go, this is the best one in town.

The Istanbul Modern also has a library and a cinema showing current and classic films.

While the museum’s new permanent home in Karaköy is being constructed, the exhibits are being temporarily housed in a historic Beyolu building.

Istanbul Modern's Art Collection

One of the world’s best collections of Ottoman-era art can be found at Istanbul’s most renowned art gallery, the magnificent Pera Museum.

Osman Hamdi Bey’s paintings are on display in the museum. Ottoman art is not the only thing the Pera collection has to offer; the museum also has a well-known collection of Ottoman-era tile and ceramic work, as well as an extensive collection of Ottoman and earlier period antiques. Additionally, a variety of exhibitions, including historical and contemporary works by some of the world’s most renowned artists, are on display on a regular basis.

To prove Istanbul isn’t all about historic sites, this cutting-edge art gallery houses a large collection of Turkish modern art and hosts a variety of artists from around the world. As far as modern art galleries go, this is the best one in town.

The Istanbul Modern also has a library and a cinema showing current and classic films.

While the museum’s new permanent home in Karaköy is being constructed, the exhibits are being temporarily housed in a historic Beyoglu building.

Learn more about the packages here