Places to See in Istanbul

Tea time at Bosphorus

There are four major sections of the city with touristic interest:
- Old Town: Mostly the region around Sultanahmet
- Beyoglu (Pera District)
- Bosphorus
- Prince's Islands (suggested from June through September)
Asian side is mostly a residential area. There is not much of historic interest except the Asian side of Bosphorus. It is nicer to live there since it is quieter compared to European side. Yet, Kadikoy food bazaar, Moda are only a 25 minutes boat trip away, less touristy and offers a look into daily Turkish life. Caddebostan beach strip is a lively posh neighborhood further away.

OLD TOWN

TOPKAPI PALACE

Topkapi Palace is the symbol and the center of the Ottoman Empire. Overlooking Istanbul Bogazici (Bosphorus) and the Marmara sea, stands this amazing building that was the great palace of the Ottoman Sultans. The palace is a collection of buildings arranged around a series of courtyards and has incredible collections of jewels, China, pieces of Ottoman and Islamic artwork.

SAINT SOPHIE

Saint Sophie, built by Constantin the Great, also known as the church of the Divine Wisdom was designed to show the strength and wealth of the Roman emperors. Once it was the greatest Christian church in the world.

SULTANAHMET MOSQUE (THE BLUE MOSQUE)

Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), in Turkish Sultanahmet Camii, is known as the Blue Mosque, because of its magnificient interior decorations of blue Iznik tiles. Outside of the mosque stands the turbe or the tomb of Sultan Ahmet. It is decorated with 17th century Iznik tiles. The Sultan was buried here along with his wife and three sons.

HIPPODROME

Hippodrome, the arena with the scenes of chariot races and also cultural focus of the Byzantine (Roman) Empire. Remains of the three of the great monuments can be seen: the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine. The square, with its surroundings, is like an open-air museum.

UNDERGROUND CISTERN -YEREBATAN SARAYI

Basilica Cistern, built in the fourth century, is one of the underground cisterns that riddle the foundations of the city. It has been extensively excavated and renovated and is worth visiting and exploring while listening to the tunes of classical music. A unique experience !

ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM

Archeological Museums This is in close vicinity of Topkapi Palace, in the direction of Gulhane park entrance. There are many collections in the museum. From Egyptian and Assyrian empires to Roman and Byzantine statues, marvellous sarchophagi, and pieces of Temples. The rich collection of ancient art are brought from anicent sites all over Anatolia (Turkey).

SULEYMANIYE CAMII

Suleymaniye Mosque built by Mimar Sinan, the great architect, and completed in just seven years is considered to be the most beautiful of all Imperial mosques in Istanbul. It dominates the skyline of the Golden Horn. Adjoining the mosque there are schools of theology, schools of Medicine, and a caravanserai.

DOLMABAHCE PALACE

Dolmabahce Palace was built as a second residence to the Sultan Abdulmecid mid 19th century. The palace commands a nice view right on the Bosphorus and its gardens are very pretty, especially in spring and summer. The founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk has died in this palace on November 10, 1938 at 9.05 AM.

GRAND BAZAAR

Grand Bazaar, the world's biggest covered historic Bazaar. It is one of the most famous spots of Istanbul, always filled with crowds who not only come to shop but to window-shop carpets, jewellery, leathers,handcrafts, home decoration items and many more.

GALATA TOWER

Galata Tower is located in the Galata area of Beyoglu district. Galata tower is one the best vista points in Istanbul with sweeping views of Istanbul including the Golden Horn.

THE MUSEUM OF TURKISH ISLAMIC ART

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum was the Palace of Ibrahim Pasa, now is a museum containing a large collection of Islamic artwork.

BEYLERBEYI PALACE

Beylerbeyi Palace is located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus slightly to the north of Dolmabahce Palace, right under the first bridge which connects Asia and Europe. Much smaller in size, the palace is a nice example of Ottoman architecture.

CHORA CHURCH

Chora Church, known also as St. Saviour, this church is famous for its mosaics. The second most important Byzantine church in Istanbul, has beautiful frescoes with the theme of death and resurrection.

RUSTEM PASA MOSQUE

Rustem Pasha Mosque, a 16th century Ottoman Mosque which is known to have the best examples of handmade Iznik tiles, not only inside but outside the mosque as well.

SPICE MARKET

Spice Market is a small bazaar, known in Turkish as Misir (Epgyptian) bazaar. As the name suggests,the shops have hunderds if not thousands of different spices and different types of food,from caviars to pistachios.

RUMELI FORTRESS

Rumeli Fortress The fortress is located on the Boshorus. It was built by the Ottomans before the conquest of Istanbul. Most of the walls are restored and is one of the hightlights of a Bosphorus cruise.

RESTAURANTS

Please see our restaurant guide for reviews.

NIGHTLIFE

Istanbul Nightlife: There are shows which does include folkloric shows, as well as belly dancing, in several clubs whose clientele are foreign tourists. Nightlife Turkish people are used to consist of bars and discos which are mostly similar to the ones found in Western countries. However, they have major differences in terms of clientele and atmosphere and sometimes the music played.

You can get a feel of the Turkish nightlife in Beyoglu, on Istiklal street. There are many bars in the region almost all on side streets, most of them being within only around 100 feet from the main street.

Ortakoy, another bar and nightlife district, is a much smaller place but more densely populated with bars, as well artisans selling their handicrafts on the streets daytime or nighttime.

Istanbul and Marmara Region Guide