Best things to do in Istanbul
Find out more about those top places in Istanbul
Standing astride the continents of Asia and Europe, Istanbul is where East meets West. While the city’s geographic setting on the banks of the Bosporus is spectacular, as the former center of both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires the city also has a plethora of astounding attractions for visitors to explore. Strolling the streets of Istanbul is like walking through history with physical vestiges of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman rule dotted across the city. Chief among them are the vast Byzantine basilica Hagia Sophia, one of the wonders of the medieval world, and the equally impressive Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century to rival the Christian cathedral. While the city is no longer Turkey’s capital, it remains the country’s cultural and economic heart. It is no surprise then that Istanbul is a twenty-four-hour city with tea gardens, coffee houses, Turkish taverns and kebab restaurants open round the clock just waiting to be discovered.
The Hagia Sophia still awes people today just as much as it did in the times of the Roman Empire. The sheer size of the building is enough to make heads turn while the extravagant decorations that adorn the building it a sight of pure beauty. Also, the interior of the structure is in no way inferior to its exterior as it looks just great as well.
Located in the heart of Istanbul is the famous blue mosque, the mosque that has 20,000 blue tiles adorning it. The blue mosque, besides its unique structure and looks, has an amazing history. It is not surprising that the site attracts as many tourists as it does.
The Topkapi Palace Museum is undoubtedly one of the most important museums in Turkey because it has a direct connection with the country's history. The Topkapi Palace was built for 12 years before it was used as the seat of administration for the Ottoman Sultans in Turkey. Also, The museum has a uniquely beautiful architectural design that is different from the other buildings found around it.
The Grand Bazaar used to be the busiest trading center in all of Istanbul, the site has about 4,000 stores where it is almost impossible to not find whatever you need. The most popular wares that are sold here include leather goods, silks, carpets, kilims, ceramics, jewelry, and icons.
The importance of the Basilica Cistern could not be overemphasized in the Byzantine times when it was built to store water for the whole city. The cistern has a capacity of 80,000 cubits and the water is transported out of the cistern by aqueducts that are many kilometers long. This cistern was a great architectural feat when it was built in 432AD, and it still remains a source of marvel today.
The Dolmabahçe Palace was the first European styled palace that was inhabited by the Ottoman Sultans. The palace was built in 1843 with more than 360 rooms and not less than 20 saloons, and it is the last place the Ottoman Sultans lived. Till today, The palace still has traces of the times that the Ottoman Sultans lived there.
The Mevlevi Sema ceremony dates back to about 800 years ago and the whirling dervishes show is one of the most entertaining parts of the ceremony. The Whirling Dervishes dance is used to represent the idea that everything on Earth revolves, starting from things as small as atoms up to the giant planets of the solar system.