When it comes to the great historic cities of the world, Istanbul should definitely be high on that list. Take Istanbul Tour and Dating back to 600 B.C.E., this city has seen so much and played a major role throughout history. It has survived through 4 empires, 3 religions and many, many rulers. So it’s no wonder that there are plenty of magnificent historic sites to see.
Top 10 Places To Visit in Istanbul Tour
A trip to Istanbul may be a bit overwhelming because you want to make sure that you don’t miss anything and there is a lot to see. Since the city is so big, and the sites aren’t easily accessed by public transportation, we recommend taking a few Istanbul Tours. That way you have transportation to the sites and a tour guide for information on each place. But, to make sure you’re choosing the right tours, here are the top 10 sites you don’t want to miss on your Istanbul Tour.
Pierre Loti Hill
Overlooking the Golden horn area of Istanbul, this hill was named after a French writer who spent much of his life living in Istanbul and writing about his love for it. He would sit at the café at the top of the hill and write. Today, you can reach the top of the hill by cable car and have a coffee at the same restaurant, now named after the writer while you enjoy the stunning view.
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The main thoroughfare off of Taksim Square, this street got its name in 1923 when Turkey became a Republic. Istiklal translates to Independence and was changed to commemorate Turkey’s independence from the Ottoman Sultans. The street is one of Istanbul’s main thoroughfares and shopping street. An antique trolley built at the beginning of the 20th century still continues to ferry people up and down the street and is a perfect photo op! It’s definitely worth a visit.
This palace, built on the side of the Bosphorus in 1843, was an attempt by Sultan Abdulmecid I to compete with the palaces of the west. The most lavish palace of the Ottoman Empire, it is filled with grand staircases and crystal chandeliers. The place is surrounded by a beautiful garden. It was last palace inhabited by the sultan during the fall of the Ottoman Empire. After the foundation of the Republic, Ataturk used Dolmabahce as his residence whenever he visited Istanbul and sadly passed away there as well. You don’t want to miss a chance to see all of the beauty of this palace.
The Galata Tower has been a part of the Istanbul skyline for hundreds of years. It was originally build to help protect the city. An identical tower used to stand of the other side of the entrance to the Golden Horn and a chain would be stretched between them. When the chain was in place, it stopped enemy ships from invading the Istanbul port. Today, the tower still stands, but it is now open for tourists. You can go to the top and take in a beautiful view of Istanbul. The best time to go is at sunset.
The Bosphorus Straight connects the Marmara Sea with the Black Sea and separates the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. A great activity is to take a cruise along the Bosphorus. There are so many different types to choose from based on how much time you want to spend and what sites you’d like to see. The shortest cruise is two hours and typically goes to the second bridge and back. However, there are some cruises that will take you all the way to the Black Sea. Depending on what you would like to see, there is a Bosphorus Cruise out there for you!
Built during the Byzantine Era, this giant underground basilica was built to hold the city’s water supply. During its heyday, it could hold eighty thousand cubic meters of water. The residents of Constantinople used aqueducts to ferry the water from a nearby forest into the cistern. Soon the basilica cistern fell into disrepair and was forgotten. In 1545, it was rediscovered by a Frenchman who was living in the city. In 1987, the basilica was restored and opened to the public. Nowadays, tourists can follow a walking path through the beautifully lit basilica and view it in all its glory.
Since the beginning of time, people have been coming together to display and sell their wares. The grand Bazaar in Istanbul happens to be one of the oldest and most historic markets in the world that is still operating today. In 1461 Sultan Fatih Mehmet built the covered bazaar that still stands today. The structure itself has been rebuilt a few times throughout history, but the bazaar has operated from that location ever since. It is the largest covered bazaar in the world and boasts over 3,600 shops. Spend an afternoon looking through the wares; you’ll never know what you might find!
Topkapi Palace During Istanbul Tour
After conquering the Byzantines in the 1400’s, the Ottoman Empire rose to power. The first rulers of the empire built their capital in the nearby city of Bursa, but in the 1450’s, Sultan Mehmet II decided to build a new palace for himself and move the capital to Istanbul. Topkapi Palace was built and housed the sultans for the next 400 years. The palace is now a museum for visitors to learn what daily life was like for the sultan and his harem. It is also filled with some of the Prophet Mohammed’s belongings, making it an important museum for people of the Islamic faith. The stunning artifacts here will definitely make it worth your while. We recommend an afternoon to experience the entire palace.
Blue Mosque During Istanbul Tour
This mosque was built in 1609 by Sultan Ahmet I and was quite controversial at the time. This mosque was different from every other mosque before it because it was built with six minarets instead of four. In the past, the mosques built by sultans only had four minarets and people were outraged that Sultan Ahmet I thought himself so much better than the sultans that came before. Unfortunately, he died before it was completed. The mosque gets its name from the beautiful blue tiles that line the inside. It is open to visitors every day of the week except for prayer time on Fridays.
Hagia Sophia During Istanbul Tour
The Hagia Sophia is by far the most impressive site in Istanbul today. It was built in 325 by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine as a Christian basilica. Unfortunately the original structure burned down, but it was rebuilt in 532 and that structure is what you see standing today. The building is in remarkable condition and has survived the test of time. When the Ottomans conquered the Byzantines in the 1400’s, they converted the structure to a mosque. Today, it operates as a museum and is open for visitors. Some of the original mosaics still exist on the inside and are definitely worth seeing. You simply can’t visit Istanbul without visiting this amazing piece of history.
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This is only ten of the hundreds of great sites to see in Istanbul. There are so many remarkable pieces of history to be found in every corner of the city. Don’t miss the chance to come and see one of the greatest cities in the world!