Istanbul Tourism was a few years ago one of the highlights of my Travel Tour Operation. I was fortunate to have visited Turkey and Istanbul tens of times with groups and with my wife for pleasure and business.
This is a city with lots of culture and history that can be felt on any move you do in this enormous city located in two continents, Europe and Asia.
Istanbul with the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara
Founded around 1000 BC it was the great capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople and it was officially renamed Istanbul after the founding of the Turkish Republic.
I always recommend to my travelers to assign at least four days to Istanbul on your first visit. Besides the four big landmarks, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar, there are many more attractions to visit. Here they are:
Hagia Sophia one of the landmarks of Istanbul
Also spelled Ayia Sofya has served several religions during the centuries. It was first a Greek Eastern Orthodox Basilica when it was built in 537. In the 12th century it was a Roman Catholic Church for many decades and it became a mosque in 1453.
In the year 1935 it was converted into a museum. Famous for its mosaics depicting religious scenes, it is one of Istanbul’s most important landmarks.
It is most famous for its mosaics depicting various religious scenes.
The Topkapi Palace as seen from the Bosphorus
In Turkish, Topkapı Sarayı was first built by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century.
From here the Ottoman Empire was ruled by the Sultans up to the 19th century. It is a dazzling complex of Islamic art with courtyards and hand painted tiles linking to beautifully decorated rooms.
It stands on a hill overlooking the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.
Considered the oldest palace in the world, today it is a museum where visitors get a glimpse of the Harem’s quarters, collections of old weapons used by the sultans; the palace kitchens are a surprise by themselves with collections of porcelain and the treasury with a collection of clocks and jewels.
In the Sacred Safekeeping Room the visitor will find collections of Relics of the Prophet Muhammad.
Blue Mosque in Istanbul with its six minarets
Also called Sultan Ahmet Camii, is a six minaret Mosque, built in the early 17th century, it remains an active house of prayer until this day.
Visitors should schedule their visits, since it is closed five times a day during praying times for Muslims.
Visitors have to take off their shoes and women should dress modestly and cover their hair as a gesture of respect.
Its treasures include 20,000 ceramic tiles in various tulip designs and 200 stained windows. It is one of the finest architectural achievements of Ottoman Architecture.
The amazing Dolmabahce Palace at the Bosphorus
Compared to the Palace of Versailles in Paris, it was built in the 19th century and blends the traditional Ottoman architecture with European Neoclassical, Rococo and Baroque styles
Built along the Bosphorus coastline it was home to the Sultans from 1856 to 1924 and is home to the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria.
Inside the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul a world of surprises
I have never seen such a maze of stores, about 5,000, in one indoor marketplace. Visits to the Grand Bazaar is a must and at the same time a nightmare to the husbands whose wives won’t want to leave and keep shopping until dropping.
It features many jewelry stores with an amazing display of gold, carpets, spices, handbags, antiques and hand painted ceramics among others.
The bazaar features two mosques, two Hammam or steam baths and four fountains.
Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul Turkey
Located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, the mosque was ordered built in 1550 by the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. It was restored in the mid-20th century. The mosque is marked by four minarets, indicating it was built by a sultan.
This center of Byzantine public life was completed by Constantine the Great in 330 AD.
Today is the Meydanı Park with fountains and monuments, of which the most important is a 20 meters high Egyptian Obelisk brought from Heliopolis.
Galata Tower overlooking the city of Istanbul
This 67 meters high tower rules over Istanbul’s skyline, offering a great view of the city and its surroundings.
Built in 1348, it was then the tallest building in Istanbul, used for many purposes of observation; today it features a café, restaurant and nightclub.
Built by Roman Emperor Justinian I it has been providing water to the residents of Istanbul since the 6th century. It is a huge, palace-like underground hall, supported by 336 columns in 12 rows, once stored the imperial water supply for the Byzantine emperors.
Spice Bazaar in Istanbul is a rainbow of colors and tastes
Also called Mısır Çarşısı, is where you find Turkish Delights, dried fruits, nuts, herbs and all spices. It gets awfully busy during lunch time.
It is a 7 Km long curving inlet, confused by first visitors as the Bosphorus. No way, the Bosphorus is larger and wider.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
Near the Topkapi Palace, it houses an array of artifacts from Turkey and throughout the Middle East and sweeps through the vast breadth of history of this region.
Both sides of Istanbul and the Princess Islands on the Marmara Sea
This is the local’s escape from the busy city. They are located on the northeast corner of the Sea of Marmara. There are no cars on the islands and only form of transport is by horse drawn carriages.
İstiklal Caddesi and Taksim Square
It is a modern shopping street with cafes and restaurants that leads to the top of the hill where the Taksim Square is located.
For more information visit Turkey Tourism Board
Taksim Square the main meeting point in Istanbul
images for istanbul tourism
hagia sophia by pannarjdde
topkapi by roweromaniak
blue mosque by cem topcu
dolmabahce by robert raderschatt
bazaar by giovanni dall'orta
suleymaniye by moonik
galata by stefan 64
spice market by walter 57
princess map n/a
all courtesy of wikimedia commons