A city steeped in history that covers thousands of years and many significant changes, moments and notable times. It is definitely a place that needs to be explored in depth to truly take in the historic aspect it has to offer. Istanbul can be a haven for history fanatics looking for exciting places to visit. Istanbul's top attractions are as varied and fascinating as the city itself, ranging from ground-breaking landmarks to the best antique stores in the nation. Food, entertainment, and enjoyment all effortlessly overlap here. Istanbul requires some getting used to, but give in to the enchantment of this city. You can choose between taking a guided tour for the best experience or choosing skip-the-line tours across the city to save time and see more in a day. One of the largest cities in the world that is split between two continents has several things to offer you as a tourist.
Constantinople, one of Istanbul’s former names, has a long history and saw many conflicts throughout the Ottoman Turks' rule, but in 1453, invasions and fighting left it vulnerable enough for Sultan Mehmet II's Ottoman Turks to seize control. Istanbul was given a new name and became the third and last capital of the Ottoman Empire. Military activities that would dramatically broaden the Ottoman Empire used it as their main point. By the middle of the sixteenth century, Istanbul, which had a population of about 500,000, was a prominent centre of culture, politics, and trade. Until it was overthrown during the First World War, when the allies occupied Istanbul, Ottoman rule was still in place. Today, you can relive all the rich history these lands have once seen by visiting beautifully preserved architecture, stunning exhibitions and several museums that are like individual pieces to an overall historic puzzle of the country’s past empires, rulers,conflicts, battles, historic periods and more.
Along with the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace, Istanbul is home to other well-known tourist destinations like bustling covered markets or bazaars, lovely ancient neighbourhoods, and a thriving dining and nightlife scene. You can see some famous landmarks that date all the way back to the 17th century as well and the architecture that flourished during the 19th century is also not to be missed! There are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey and you can find some in Istanbul as well.
One of the most iconic attractions of the city, the Galata Tower fills the skyline of Istanbul and offers breathtaking views of the old city and its surroundings. The medieval stone tower known as the Tower of Christ was the tallest building in Istanbul when it was built in 1348. It still has a magnificent view of Istanbul and had recently been converted into a Museum from inside until it leads up to the observation 360° deck at the very top. The tower has changed over time; at one time, it functioned as an observation tower for spotting fires. From the summit, you have the best views of Istanbul, as well as a full view of the Bosphorus Strait and the stunning Galata Bridge that illuminates at night in a golden hue. The perfect spot for your pictures with several other attractions clearly visible as well. Don’t forget to check out the Golden Horn and Basilica Cistern as well while you are in Istanbul. The Basilica Cistern has opened again after a long time due to renovations and restorations so it is definitely a good place to check out!
Tourists who prefer shopping shouldn't skip the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest indoor marketplaces in the world with 5,000 shops. Every day, the bazaar receives over 25,000 people and sells goods like jewellery, hand-painted pottery, antiques, spices, and carpets. The Grand Bazaar was first established in the 15th century, under the reign of Sultan Mehmet II. The king began building covered bazaars called "bedesten" that were used to sell fabrics and silks.
Another world famous attraction is Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia, which translates from the Greek to mean "Holy Wisdom," refers to Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity. With the exception of about 60 years in the 1200s when it served as a Roman Catholic cathedral, the structure, which Justinian, the Byzantine emperor, had constructed between 532 and 537, was an Eastern Orthodox cathedral until 1453.Most recently, it was transformed into a mosque so that Muslims can now come and pray within the Hagia Sophia Mosque as well and entrance for visitors is completely free. If you are visiting in the summer then make sure to go early to avoid the lines and the heat.
Remnants of the Ottoman Empire can be found in all corners of the city and works of famous architects like the Chief Ottoman Architect, Mimar Sinan, can be found all around the country as well. He was responsible for more than 300 structures and inspired many architects to come, including those who built the Sultanahmet Mosque later as well. Sultan Mehmed II erected Topkapi Palace in the 15th century, which served as the Ottoman Empire's political and administrative hub. Prior to the 19th century, it was initially known as the New Palace, which is how "Cannon Gate Palace" is literally translated. The Palace is currently a museum that preserves the largest knowledge bank and recollections of Ottoman splendour after the Ottoman Empire fell in 1923.
To truly immerse yourself in the history of Istanbul and be near the key areas, choose any of our upscale furnished apartments on the Asian and European sides of Istanbul that are situated in ideal localities that are almost always close to major landmarks.