Here are the Top 10 historical places to visit in Istanbul
Hagia Sophia was originally built as a church during Byzantine times. In 1453, upon the conquest of what was formerly known as Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed the Conquerer, the church was transformed into a mosque.
It has seen many restorations and repairs in the time since. Two prominent Ottoman figures, architect Mimar Sinan and calligrapher Kazasker Mustafa Izzet, performed remarkable work on the site which, after it was turned into a museum, was quickly added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. In 2020, it was converted into a mosque.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums are a group of three archaeological museums located in the Eminönü quarter of Istanbul, Turkey, near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums consist of three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art.
The 67-meter-high (220-foot-high) tower situated on the city’s European side was constructed in 1348 as a watchtower and later in the Ottoman era, as an observation post against fires. Today, it is a landmark giving a splendid view of the Golden Horn through a narrow panoramic deck at the top. The tower, the tallest building in the city when it was first constructed, was restored multiple times since the 19th century when it was damaged in a fire. The last restoration was done in the 1960s when its roof was reconstructed and the wooden interior was replaced by a concrete structure.
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Sultan Ahmet Mosque
Also known as the Blue Mosque, it is the first and only six-minaret mosque of Ottoman architecture. The construction of the mosque ended in 1617 and was built right across from Hagia Sophia.
The Maiden’s Tower
The Maiden’s Tower, also known as Leander’s Tower since the medieval Byzantine period, is a tower on a small islet at the southern entrance of the Bosporus 200 meters (655 feet) from the coast of Üsküdar in Istanbul.
The Maiden’s Tower has served many different purposes over the years, functioning as a tax collection area, a defense tower and a lighthouse. During the cholera epidemic in 1830, it was used as a hospital and even as a radio station. The tower was handed over to the Ministry of Defense in 1964 and then to Maritime Enterprises in 1982. It has undergone extensive renovations and currently functions as a restaurant that is owned by a private company and open to the public.
Topkapı Palace Museum
Topkapı Palace is a large museum in the east of the Fatih district of Istanbul in Turkey. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans.
The Basilica Cistern, or Cisterna Basilica, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul.
St. George’s Cathedral
The Church of St. George is the principal Eastern Orthodox cathedral located in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and, as Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire until 1453. Since the 1600s, it has been the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople whose leader is regarded as the primus inter pares (first among equals) in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and considered to be the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.
Dolmabahçe Palace was built per the order of Abdülmecid I and was the home of six sultans. With its eclectic design containing elements from baroque, rococo and neoclassical styles blending with traditional Ottoman architecture, the palace hosted Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi as the last royal of the Ottoman Empire. After the foundation of the Turkish republic, its founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk used the palace as his presidential residence. Atatürk spent his last days and passed way in the palace on Nov. 10, 1938.
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