Places You Should Visit in Istanbul!

Here are some places in Istanbul that you might like!

Places You Should Visit in Istanbul!

Photo Credits: Salvator Barki / GETTY IMAGES

If you have visited Istanbul at least once, you will come back. If you have not been there before, here is your chance to get to know it first, before you really go to, as Napoleon Bonaparte says - the capital of the world.

Here are some of the reasons why Istanbul should be your next destination!

A City That Always Offers Something New

Every story about Istanbul starts differently. All travelers, no matter how many times they've been to this city, will always go through some new experiences, see something different, even if they've visited the same places more than once.

This is a city full of curiosities - cultural and historical attractions, a perfect geographical position on two continents and two seas, on the Bosphorus Sea. The climate is extremely mild and favorable, so the tourist season here lasts almost all year round.

Whether you choose spring or autumn for your visit to Istanbul, you will not go wrong.

As we said, no matter how many times you see the sights of Istanbul, they will take your breath away again and again, and here are some of them that you must not miss!

Hagia Sophia - An Imposing Symbol of Istanbul

One of the symbols of the city is certainly Constantine's "Saint Sophia" or "Hagia Sophia", whose purpose has been changed several times throughout its history.

It was built in 537 (completion of construction) during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I and until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, it was a church and one of the pillars of Christianity. After the collapse of the Ottoman dynasty, the Turkish Empire ceased to exist and Turkey became a Republic, and in 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, its first president, turned Hagia Sophia into a museum.

It had this function until last year, when the Turkish State Council annulled this decision from 1934 and on July 24, 2020, officially opened the Hagia Sophia as a mosque.

Hagia Sophia is certainly the most famous attraction in Istanbul and something you should not miss. Today, traces of its turbulent past can be seen inside the building. In addition to Islamic ornaments and symbols, parts of the original frescoes from the time when it was an Orthodox church have been preserved on some walls of the building.

Since St. Sophia is a mosque today, admission is free for tourists, except during prayers. We remind you that there is a dress code in mosques (you cannot go in shorts, a sleeveless T-shirt, etc.) and for women, a headscarf is also required to cover your head. You can usually take the headscarf at the entrance of religious buildings, but we recommend that you bring your own just in case.

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque) - A Pillar of Faith and Tourism

The Blue Mosque is located across the Hagia Sophia, which was the inspiration for the construction of this mosque. This can be seen in the architecture and appearance of the religious buildings. This is the only mosque in the world that has 6 minarets. According to a legend, these 6 minarets were built completely by accident, due to play on words:

The Sultan asked the architect for golden minarets, and the architect understood six minarets. This is how the famous Blue Mosque, or Ahmadiyya, was built today.

Another interesting thing about the mosque is the origin of its name - the Blue Mosque, which it got because of the 20,000 blue ceramic tiles that were built into its interior.

Admission to the mosque is free, but we remind you that you must take care of the time of the visit (you cannot enter during prayer) and the dress code (see the last paragraph in the text about the Hagia Sophia).

Topkapi Palace - Take a Peek into the Sultan's Chambers

Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Palace) is a former residence of the Ottoman Sultans. There they lived with their family, harem, and subjects, received envoys, resolved political issues, and ruled the empire which in the period of Suleiman the Magnificent spread wide across three continents. 

Today, Topkapi Palace is a museum, which is annually visited by many tourists from various parts of the world.

At the entrance of the complex is a large park with benches and greenery where you can take a short break before entering the palace complex. Topkapi Palace consists of several units, of which only some are open to the public and visitors today.

During the visit to the palace, you will walk the paths that the Turkish Sultans and their associates walked for 400 years, peek into the rooms where they spent their time, and for the curious, there is the possibility of entering the part of the court called the Harem. 

This is the part of the court where there was a rule of life and behavior and where men were forbidden access (except eunuchs) and anyone who did not obey the rules was severely punished.

In addition to these unique rooms, Topkapi Palace has a beautiful terrace overlooking Istanbul and the Golden Horn.

Kapali Bazaar Is an Indispensable Place for Shopping.

The Kapali Bazaar or Grand Bazaar is the largest covered market in the world of this kind and an unmissable place during a visit to Istanbul. Considering its appearance and construction, it is more reminiscent of a real small, closed city with a large stone entrance gate, numerous alleys, streets, and passages.

This is a place where you can find everything - sweets, spices, glassware, porcelain, the famous Turkish leather, and many other things. From needle to the locomotive.

The bazaar was built by the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, Mehmed II the Conqueror, and over the centuries it was the center of trade, where buyers and sellers from all over the world gathered. Throughout its long history, the Grand Bazaar has suffered many destructions, fires, and earthquakes but has resisted and been rebuilt each time.

What makes the Kapali Bazaar unique in the world is its interior - a multitude of colors, objects, decorations, goods, jewelry, and lights will enchant you and leave you breathless. Prices vary depending on the goods and the store but are generally not high.

Here, as in all markets and places in Istanbul, it is desirable to bargain with local sellers, who are persistent, but if you try, you can get out of here with nice things and more money left in your wallet.

Entrance to the Kapala Bazaar is free, but we recommend that you arm yourself with patience and open your eyes because, as everywhere, these are places where there are a lot of people, so be careful not to be a victim of pickpockets and scammers.

Dolambahce Palace - Another Imposing Building of the Sultan

Dolambahce Palace (Dolambahce Palace) is an imperial palace of Turkish rulers, built in the middle of the 19th century when the Sultans moved here from the Topkapi Palace.

The palace is in the new part of Istanbul, Besiktas, on the shores of the Bosphorus. It has an imposing exterior, and the luxury and splendor of the former Turkish Empire emanate from every stone. According to some data, the construction of the palace was so expensive and demanding, that the empire almost went bankrupt!

Considering that it was built during the 19th century when European influence and style began to flow over there, the palace is very reminiscent of European castles. Its luxurious exterior, however, is nothing compared to the interior, which depicts wealth, shine, and luxury in one place.

During the visit, you will pass from one room to another, and each will amaze you more and more with its appearance, gold objects, chandeliers (in one room there is the heaviest chandelier in the world, a gift from Queen Victoria), expensive carpets and furniture. This place gathers the most expensive items from that period.

The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, also spent his last days in this palace. It is an interesting fact that all the clocks in the palace were stopped to show the time of his death - 09:05.

Taksim Square - In the Heart of the Urban Part of the City

Taksim Square is one of the liveliest parts of the modern part of the city. Here are numerous luxury hotels, shops and from this square downhill, towards the Golden Horn and Galata Bridge, there is the famous Ištiklal Street - Freedom Street!

This is one of the most famous pedestrian zones in Istanbul (like Knez Mihajlova Street in Belgrade) with numerous cafes on the building roofs, restaurants, candy and spice shops, pastry shops, street vendors, and musicians, a variety of street food and souvenirs.

Also, this is one of the main shopping zones in the city, where along the entire length, on both sides of the street, you can find stores of famous European clothing brands, but also local, Turkish brands at very reasonable prices.

We recommend that you take a day to explore Taksim Square and this street, drink the famous Turkish tea or coffee, eat the best baklava in the world in one of the pastry shops and try some of the local Turkish specialties, such as their famous kebabs, bagels, and kefir.

Galata Tower - For an Unreal View of the Bosphorus

Galata Tower is in the new, modern part of Istanbul near Taksim Square and Istiklal Street and is one of the most recognizable symbols of Istanbul. It is located on a hill, which can be reached on foot, through narrow, winding, cobbled streets. It is possible to enter the tower and climb to the circular terrace with a fantastic view of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn, and the old town.

Within the tower, there is a restaurant where you can take a break. 

Galata Bridge - a link between the ancient and the new

Descending from the tower towards the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, you come to the Galata Bridge, the famous Istanbul bridge with landscaped footpaths on both sides of the bridge, over which you can cross the Golden Horn on foot and reach the old part of the city - Fatih.

An indispensable part of the picture of Galata Bridge is its fishermen, who come here in the early morning hours and stay throughout the day, sitting or standing along the entire length of the bridge, fishing, and enjoying the Istanbul sun. Today, the bridge symbolically connects two Istanbul’s - old and new, two cultures and two different worlds.

By: Deya - Gossip Whispers