Istanbul Highlights

The largest and major city of Turkey has a lot to offer because it is located between continent Asia and Europe. It remained under different dynasties due to that the culture is a beautiful mix of different influences like Greek, Romans, Venetians and Ottoman Empire. Different armies invaded in Istanbul and ransacked the city before Byzantines. Their style can be seen in the form of beautiful mosaics and frescoes in the historic buildings which were maintained by their successors, the Ottoman. Heritage, food, culture, tradition, art and architecture has a fascinating diversity that keeps Istanbul a very important part of tourist itinerary. Some important places to visit in Istanbul are as follows.

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Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest construction in the architecture world. It was converted for various purposes during different dynasties like church, then mosque and after that museum. It was restored for many years to maintain it in perfect shape.

The splendor of the fascinating structure comprises of a dome in center with 43 meters’ width and 65 meters above the head. The spiral ramp leads to the gallery where the Byzantine mosaics are decorated along with the images of Emperor Constantine IX and his wife.

Topkapi Palace
This place remained the principal residence of Sultans for many generations. It is designed with great beauty and attraction. There are four courtyards alongside the kiosks and pavilions where sultans resided for half a century.

The major things to be seen are Harem, adorned cage, treasury storing the jewels, famous Topkapi dagger, weapons room containing some masterpieces of Ottoman craftsmanship along with different swords and bows. You can have an amazing walk to enjoy the views of Sea of Marmara, Golden horn and Bosphorus.

Basilica Cistern
You can enjoy the underground beauty of Istanbul in the form of Basilica Cistern. This is one of the amazing architectural creativity of the Byzantine engineering. This place is romantic and spooky according to the visitors because of its dim lighting, classical music and the sounds of dripping waters. Walk ways are designed alongside the waterways with the columns supporting the ceiling. You can easily see the fish swimming in the water between them while walking to reach the end where there is the upside down medusa head.

Bosphorus Cruise
You will not only see the coastlines but will be able to enjoy the wonderful views of the palaces and mansions from old centuries. It covers the Europeans and Asian shores and combining waterways of both continents. There are different cruise trips offered by many companies the short ones and the long ones which take the trip of the Black Sea. There is a sunset tour in summers. However, visitors can choose according to their budget and time.

Grand Bazaar
The grand bazaar is really great and grand because it is 500 years old. It is among the largest covered bazaars with 60 streets and more than 5000 shops, restaurants, fountains, mosques and a school. You can buy a lot of things or just sit and enjoy the locals shopping styles because they bargain a lot. The major products are carpets, leather, ceramics, souvenirs, jewelry and food. If you want to avoid getting lost, then remember the place from where you entered.

Archeology Museum
This place is not to be missed because it has some hidden gems of Istanbul. Top things to see are the Alexander the Great sarcophagus, KaramanMihrab, tiled pavilion, treaty of Kadesh, world’s earliest peace treaty that survived and some of the world’s richest classical antiques. There is a kid’s section as well where the most interesting thing for them is the model of Trojan horse.

Suleymaniye Mosque
This is a bit lonely masterpieces where there are minimum tourists. The structure of the mosque contains a kitchen, hospital, school etc. It is an amazing building to explore because it is a lot more than a worshiping place. The tombs of Suleyman the magnificent and Roxalana are located near the graveyard and the Sinan tomb outside the complex.

Kariya Museum and Chora Church
They are located near the old town. Chora church is an amazing piece of art because of the Byzantine mosaics and frescoes on the walls. It is one of the best religious buildings. You can also enjoy exploring the remains of wooden ottoman houses and city walls belonging to the fifth century.

Galata Tower
You can get the stunning 360° panoramic view in which you can even spot the prince island. Ninth floor of the tower is the restaurant and café. You can even enjoy food and coffee on one of the many terraces around the tower.

Bebek and Ortakoy
These are two villages with very lesser tourism. You can enjoy the life of locals in its true colors. Bebek is wealthy and lively place that is well known among the locals. Ortakoy is more relaxing and cozy. You can enjoy the breakfast, lunch and dinner at different restaurants located on the car free cobblestones roads. You can even enjoy the buzzing nightlife of these areas.

Get a nice scrub hammam
You can enjoy the relaxing bath and scrub at the traditional hammam. You wrap a cotton cloth around your body and lay down on the hot marble in the steam room. Then you get scrub and massage until your skin becomes soft and smooth. The sound of running water makes the surroundings more interesting. There are a lot of hammams among which some are very old.