Istanbul is a metropolis located in two parts of the world simultaneously, half of which is in Europe and half in Asia.
Istanbul impresses with its sights that combine culture, religion, and history. The city has many historical sites that have survived more than one generation change. And today, they proudly display their beauty and enchant travelers from all over the world. Not sure what to visit during your trip there? No worries! In this article, we list 6 places that you should see in Istanbul.
The heart of Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire, Sultanahmet is the district where emperors and sultans built great places of worship, celebrating their greatness. Perhaps this is why this region is surrounded by an aura of charm and wealth that is unparalleled in the world. The historic and authentic Istanbul manages to conquer every traveler: getting lost in its bazaars, among carpet sellers and meticulous artisans, is the best advice we can give you.
Aya Sofya/Hagia Sophia
Known in Italy as the “Church of Santa Sofia” in the Sultanahmet district, it is the most famous building in Turkey, built by Emperor Justinian, where Byzantium’s acropolis once stood. Describing the magnificence of such a work, unequaled to this day, is quite complicated. Just think of the 30 meters in diameter of its dome, supported by 40 ribs, or the numerous mosaics that dot the interior. Don’t miss the imperial door, the column of tears, the tomb of Enrico Dandolo: Aya Sofya, as a whole, will surely leave you speechless.
Commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I, to construct a building capable of rivaling and surpassing the nearby Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque also stands out for its unique character. You will be amazed by the perfect proportions that the mosque assumes, as well as by the tens of thousands of blue tiles to which the building owes its name and, once again, by the 260 windows that illuminate the interior. Entering the mosque with your “nose up” to discover the domes and half-domes painted with harmonious arabesques will be a must.
Commissioned in 1453 by Mehmet the Conqueror, the Topkapi Palace is the most representative emblem of Ottoman Istanbul. The Imperial Council Chamber, a richly decorated room where the Divan (the Council) met to discuss affairs of state while – according to legend – the Sultan attempted to steal information hidden behind a gate above the wall, deserves special attention. A visit to the Harem, one of the least frequented and most fascinating areas of the palace, is highly recommended if only to discover the popular beliefs that linger in its 300 rooms! In short, an unmissable visit to Istanbul.
Heart of the city, and not only in the geographical sense, with its 4000 shops, but it also represents the city’s most famous market. In the center of the market is the Old Bazaar, the first building erected by Mahmet the Conqueror, configured as a swarm of countless shops selling jewelry, ceramics, silver, and quality antiques. Book lovers will certainly not be able to forego a visit to the Sahaflar Carsisi. This market dates back to Byzantine times and where the most original purchases can be made.
Immersed in the western districts, which are rarely visited by tourists, the church of San Salvatore in Chora was built by Constantine the Great, surrounded by new walls by Theodosius II and transformed from a church into a mosque, later to become the seat of a museum. The mosaics that decorate the interiors, illustrating Christ and Mary’s life, and which have made the building famous all over the world, are truly unmissable.
Have you been to Istanbul yet and visited any other beautiful must-see that you would love to share? Remember to leave it in the comments below!