Top 15 Sightseeing Areas of Istanbul

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Top 15 Sightseeing Areas of Istanbul

Rumelia Castle Rose the Guide (2)

Istanbul has 8000 years of history.

Such empires attempted to conquer it.

Ships from 7 seas anchored to Istanbul ports and sold their goods they brought from all over the world.

Many historical buildings all around Istanbul turn it into a gigantic open-air museum today. So many places, restaurants, cafes or patisseries that keep social memory alive are also among the nostalgic places of Istanbul. In a nutshell, Istanbul tells us, “discover me again and again”.

On the one hand, fully packed, the Metrobüs, on the other hand, are the ferries that we are free from the bustle of life on the deck with a glass of hot tea… Beyoglu, where the crowds flows like a flood, Burgazada streets, where the waves and seagulls screams tear the city apart… Istanbul opens the gates of unlimited adventures to locals and tourists. It’s the city that makes people feel different emotions with every visit even in same spots. Though it’s hard to choose we’ve compiled the best 15 sightseeing spots of Istanbul.

Whatever you read about Istanbul will tell you to visit old town first. Roman and Ottoman heritage together can be best observed in the old city.

If you need a professional guide to lead you all the way around the city, you can check my tours in Istanbul here. It’s the best way of exploring a city as a foreigner without missing majors. 

1. Hagia Sophia

hagia sophia rose the guide

It’s the best place to start your trip in Istanbul. One of the most famous temples in the world, Hagia Sophia is 1500 years old. When Justinian saw his masterpiece, largest cathedral of Christian world, he shouted his famous words “Solomon, I have outdone you !”

Aprox. 6 million people visit the museum every year.

In the old city, the museum is open 6 days of a week between 09.00-17.00 and closed on Mondays.

Latest news: Year 2020 and Hagia Sophia is converted into a mosque again. I guess debates about what Hagia Sophia exactly is never going to end…

2. Topkapı palace

Harem Topkapı Rose the Guide

Ottoman Empire is one of the biggest empires that reached the largest territory and ruled over 600 years. The palace, where the extensive empire was ruled  throughout lengthy history, was home to royal family for 400 years. Today, with all its splendor, Topkapı Palace is waiting for its visitors.

In the palace, which witnesses the most sumptuous weddings, ascension ceremonies or intrigues and sad stories of the Ottoman Empire, you can be a partner to a unique history feast by leaving yourself in the arms of history.

Palace is in old city, sharing almost same location with Hagia Sophia. It’s open to visit every day except Tuesdays.

3. Grand Bazaar

Travel Turkey Rose the guide istanbul grand bazaar

Another favorite stop in the old town is the Grand Bazaar, which has been standing in Istanbul for 550 years. The Grand Bazaar is famous for its streets where you will disappear and its goldsmiths that direct the world gold market.

Besides shopping in Grand Bazaar, you can feel the spirit of the city. Bazaar is closed on Sundays.

You may consider having a professional guide with you to eliminate price frauds (which is quite common) and it’s good for not getting lost.

4. Bozdoğan / Valens Aqueduct

Very few of Roman Aqueducts used for distributing clean water is still standing today. 

In the heart of Istanbul, Unkapanı, Bozdoğan or with its Latin name Valens Aqueduct is enthralling people with its length and history for 1500 years. Today local are driving their cars under 15 hundred years of history every day. 

5. Basilica Cistern

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The cistern, built to fulfill the water need of the royal palace during the Byzantine Period (Eastern Roman), still fascinates with its eye-catching columns and Medusa statues.

Musical activities and events held in the Basilica Cistern, which also hosts many art events today, open the doors of a magical world to the attendees.

You can visit it every day between 09.00 – 17.30

6. Çemberlitaş Column

For the honor of Constantine the Great, column was erected in 330 on one of the hill of Constantinople and gave its name to the area by time.

although it was badly damaged during the Crusades,

The Çemberlitaş column, which was once the busts of the Byzantine Emperors, is still one of the most remarkable structures in Istanbul.

7. Galata Tower

Galata Tower Roset the Guide

Tower, which people wait on long ques to reach on top and see the view, is a symbol of the city shaping its beautiful siluette. It’s said that couples climbing up together marry and have a fortunate life…

8. Rumelia Fortress

Rumelia Castle Rose the Guide (2)

Mehmed II built the fortress in 90 days to stop the ships’ entry from Black Sea to Bosphorus. Rumelia Fortress, a majestic building with three wide towers and thick walls, is situated across the Anatolian Fortress, at the point where the two coasts of Bosphorus Strait are nearest to each other(660m). The fortress is a museum today. Inside you can see the pretty view of Bosphorus. A piece of chain Romans closed the Golden Horn port, cannons, cannonballs used during the conquest of Constantinople are also on display.

9. Yoros Castle

Yoros Castle, which has panorama view of the Black Sea, is one of Istanbul’s most significant historic heritage from the Eastern Roman Empire. 

Although the Genoese captured the castle when Eastern Roman Empire weakened, Ottomans took the control of it in 1391.

Even though it’s prohibited to enter the castle due to ongoing excavations, it’s still one of the best places to watch Bosphorus and you can have an amazing Turkish breakfast or a Turkish coffee in the local cafeteria down there.

11. Anatolian Fortress

Mentioning Turkish breakfast we can’t skip Anatolian Fortress. Built for the purpose of controlling the entrances to the Bosphorus and protecting the Göksu Valley during the period of Yıldırım Beyazıt, Anadolu Fortress has been hosting the most beautiful views of the Anatolian side since 1395. Anatolian fortress with its fishing vessels, cafes and restaurants is one of the quietest locations in Istanbul today.

12. 7 Hills Fortress/ Dungeons

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In addition, the fortress which was established in the Byzantine era to host the visiting rulers, was turned into a military garrison by taking its final shape with 3 towers and city walls added during the Mehmed II. reign.

13. Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace Rose the Guide

Founded in 1856 by the Ottoman sultan Abdülmecit in the Bosphorus, Dolmabahçe Palace is one of Istanbul’s most significant landmarks, with traces of Western architecture.

Dolmabahce, the largest palace in Turkey, also has a different moral value because it is the place where Ataturk spent his last days.

Palace is closed on Monday.

14. Aya Yorgi Monastery

Aya Yorgi Monastery Rose the guide Travel Turkey

Biggest of Princes’ Islands, Buyukada is visited by hundreds of thousands of people. There’s one more thing you got to do on island except riding bikes around, enjoying fresh sea food: visiting Aya Yorgi Monastery.

Built in 1751, Aya Yorgi is the oldest church on the island and is on highest point of the island with a fantastic view.

Every year many people from different religions climb the hill to the monastery on 13 April and 24 September to pray, make a wish and light candles. If you don’t like mods, choose other dates to see the monastery.

15. Maiden’s Tower

Travel Turkey Rose The Guide istanbul Maiden Toer
Photo: pixabay @Alpcem

The most romantic spot o the city. Tower was restorated in 2000, and its restaurant is open since then. However, you don’t need to go to the restaurant in particular to visit the tower. There are boats frequently from Üsküdar and Kabataş every day between 09.00-18.45.

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