Istanbul Sights & Attractions
What to See and Do in Istanbul
HAGIA SOPHIA was the greatest church in Christendom until the 15th century, when it became a mosque. In 1935 it was turned into a museum and stands today as one of the world's greatest buildings. Another one is the BLUE MOSQUE, only a few steps away. It was first built in the 17th century as the world's grandest mosque, and its popular name comes from the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.
Another Istanbul landmark is the GALATA TOWER, previously known as the Tower of Christ. It was built by the city's Genoese community and offers a viewing platform at the top.
Also don't miss DOLMABAHÇE SARAYI, the palace that the sultans moved into in 1856. It's a marvellous baroque construction with an opulent interior which includes the world's largest chandelier and almost 300 rooms and six hamams.
The Istanbul Modern was Turkey's first national contemporary art museum. It opened in 2004 in a former warehouse, and promotes Turkish art in its permanent collection together with temporary exhibitions by international artists. It's also home to a popular café and offers city views from its second floor.
BOSPHORUS BRIDGE seen from the baroque ORTAKOY CAMII MOSQUE is arguably Istanbul's best picture-postcard image. The suspension bridge links Europe with Asia and was opened in 1973.
The YEREBATAN SARAYI is an underground cistern that's one of the city's most impressive sights. It dates from the 6th century and has over 300 marble columns, two of which with blocks carved into Medusa heads.
Every visitor to Istanbul passes by the GRAND BAZAAR. Located in the historic heart of the city, it has over 4000 vendors, and it's a very atmospheric experience even if you don't plan to fall into the tourist traps and buy something.
From there, do some more shopping down the pedestrian ISTIKLAL STREET. It's the city's liveliest, home to many international shops and welcoming cafes.
TOURS & DAYTRIPS
Go on a tour of Istanbul to experience sides of the city that you may miss on your own.