Being one of the most historical and socio-cultural cities of Turkey, Istanbul is the city that unites Asia and Europe. Many thousands of tourists visit Istanbul every year, to savor the extensive historical sites which date back to the 6th century BC. Many tourist attractions are located in or near the old city district of Sultanahmet. In this article, we list 5 top-rated tourist attractions in Istanbul that you must see in this fascinating city.
Hagia Sophia is one of the most well known historical monuments of Istanbul. This is a very important place in history, architecture and culture. It was built three times in the same place. Hagia Sophia was first called Megale Ekklesia (it means ‘Big Church’), but later called Hagia Sophia (it means ‘Holy Wisdom’).
It is the biggest cathedral of the time of the Byzantine period. After Fatih Sultan Mehmed’s conquer in 1453, Hagia Sophia was renovated into a mosque. Hagia Sophia is a museum today and visiting hours of the winter schedule are 09:00-17:00 with the last entrance time of 16:00. Visiting hours of the summer schedule are 09:00-19:00 with the last entrance time of 18:00.
Official Site: https://ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr/
Topkapi Palace is another important historical place in Istanbul. The palace was the residence of the Ottoman sultanas, the administrative and educational center of the state. After the Ottoman monarchy was abolished in 1922, it was transformed into a museum on 3 April 1924 by the order of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Nowadays, it still attracts hundreds of visitors as a museum. It is liked by visitors with fascinating details, unique architecture and gorgeous structure in natural beauties. The museum is open to visitors every day, except Tuesdays. In the inter season, ticket office 16:00 is closed. In the summer season, ticket office 18:00 is closed.
Official Site: https://topkapisarayi.gov.tr/tr
One of the most important historical structures and most visited sites in Istanbul is the Basilica cistern, which is located near Hagia Sophia. Built by the Byzantine emperor Justinianus, the cistern has a rectangular shape with a length of 140 metres and a width of 70 metres.
The basilica cistern, which Dan Brown mentioned in his book “Inferno”, welcomes thousands of visitors every year. One of the most interesting features of the cistern are the two Medusa heads which are used as pedestals under the two columns of the cistern. The museum is open seven days a week between 09.00 and 18.30 hours. Only the first day of religious holidays opens at 13.00.
Official Site: https://www.yerebatan.com/tr
The Blue Mosque, named due to the color of the eye-catching patterns on the walls, is one of the most striking examples of Turkish-Islamic architecture. Located directly opposite Hagia Sofia, The Blue Mosque is open for visitors seven days a week. It is open between 08:30 and 19:00 during summer and between 08:30 and 17:00 during the winter months.
Dolmabahce Palace was built by the 31st Ottoman Sultan, Tanzimatci Sultan Abdulmecid (Sultan Abdulmecid the Reorganizer). Located on the shores of the Bosphorus, the palace attracts attention due to its magnificent architecture and history. Dolmabahce Palace is close to several tourist attractions of Istanbul, such as Taksim, Besiktas and Kabatas. Opening and closing times differ between seasons.
Official Site: http://www.millisaraylar.gov.tr/saraylar/dolmabahce-sarayi