What to see in Istanbul: The most important places and things to see in Turkey

Istanbul is a city with almost 15 million inhabitants, making it the largest tourist city in Turkey. Also, despite its political situation, this city that was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires is one of the most visited on the planet. In part, this is due to the sheer number of options. Therefore, we will be looking at what to see in Istanbul and how to get the most out of a trip to this area.

Organize your day in Istanbul

The first thing you should do is to sort out your entire schedule in order to make the most of the various options available. For example, you can take the best 8-hour private tour of Istanbul and customize your itinerary. With the help of a guide who knows the area, you can enjoy a lot of the city and get to know some curiosities. Among the must-see places to visit are the following:

1. Hagia Sophia

This is one of the main tourist and heritage sites in Istanbul, and is a work of art that anyone who sets foot in the city must visit. On three occasions it has been destroyed and rebuilt. Its original structure was built as an orthodox basilica, but by 1453 it ended up as a mosque. It was not until 1935 when Atatürk chose to transform the basilica into a museum, giving it its original appearance.

2. The Blue Mosque

Directly opposite the Hagia Sophia is another of the most beautiful relics to be found in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque. The domes of this place are cascading and make a spectacular facade. It was built in the early seventeenth century by the order of Sultan Ahmet I, and is decorated with more than 20,000 tiles that have been made by hand.

3. Spice Bazaar

This is one of the oldest and most authentic markets that we can find in Istanbul, and it is only a few steps away from the Galata Bridge. In this place, you can enjoy a myriad of smells and colors. People shop non-stop and tourists can move through the sea of people. This bazaar is in the shape of an L and can be accessed from 6 different doors. Once there, you can find spices, local sweets, cheeses and more.

4. Topkapi Palace

This is another of the places to see in Istanbul, the construction of the Topkapi Palace began shortly after Mehmet the Conqueror arrived in Constantinople in 1453. Here, the sultans ruled their empire until the 19th century, when the regent of the time decided to move his residence to the Dolmabahçe Palace. The palace covers an area of more than 700 thousand square meters and is reminiscent of Istanbul’s imperial era. 

5. Galata Bridge

This is a point that connects the modern area with the old part of the city. It is a bascule bridge that is about 490 meters long and is located at the mouth known as The Golden Horn. It is much visited by tourists and locals. 

At the bottom of the bridge you can find different stores, cafes and restaurants. You can have a local tea and contemplate the beautiful views of the city. However, waiting for dusk and watching the sunset is one of the best experiences to see in Istanbul.

6. Basilica Cistern

A good part of the city of Istanbul is filled with an underworld under the ground, in which the cisterns play a leading role. This is because in ancient Constantinople this tactic was used to maintain a sufficient reserve of water to supply itself when necessary in the event of an attack.

Also called ‘The submerged palace’, the basilica cistern was built in the subway area of a basilica during the period of Justinian’s rule in the 6th century. It has a number of 336 columns, all with a height of 9 meters. During the last years of the 20th century some wooden footbridges were placed for walking, since before it was only possible to move through a boat.

7. Istanbul racetrack 

In Sultanahmet, next to the great mosques, we can find the local hippodrome which was built in 200 AD and was enlarged by Constantine. This site became the social and sports center of the city, being the largest in the world at the time.

The Hippodrome has the Egyptian Obelisk, which is more than 3,500 years old. We also find the column of Constantine, which has a height of 32 meters, in its beginnings it was covered with bronze and copper plates but then it was stripped of them. The Serpentine column was built in 479 AD and commemorates the victory over the Persians. And the German fountain is one of the most recent monuments, as it was received as a gift from Germany in 1895.

Hipodromo de Constantinopla | Todo Lo Que Necesitas Conocer

8. Boat ride on the Bosphorus

This will be a totally different perspective from what we are used to. There are many boats that make tours of the Bosphorus, which is a strait where two seas meet: the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. In this way, it marks the separation between both parts of Turkey: the Asian part and the European part. You can find beautiful views and you will fall in love with different palaces.

9. Taksim Square

Finally, we find the site that is considered by many as the true center that defines the European part of Istanbul. Many Turks use this square for any kind of celebrations, events and even demonstrations.What is most striking is the fact that there are a lot of stores around this large square. There are cafes, hotels and restaurants that beautify the streets and make this square one of the best places to see in Istanbul.

Posted in Europe, Turkey.