Must see places in Istanbul – Part 1

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İstanbul is a wonderful city with many attractions including great natural wonders like the Bosphorus, ancient temples, great museums and lots of sights.

If you are planning to visit İstanbul, you’ll enjoy our list. Coordinates will be given as Google Maps link, if you are using Evernote style note app or other bookmark for offline use, you may copy this page and find your way with your mobile device as long as you’ve installed an offline İstanbul map or cache İstanbul map in Google Maps.

10- Taksim Square, Gezi Park and İstiklal Avenue

Taksim Square is the heart of modern İstanbul. İstiklal Avenue is the most visited place with lots of shops, cafe’s, bars and clubs. Taksim Square, İstiklal Avenue and whole Beyoğlu(Pera) are historically important places, but there is a new attraction point since June 2013

İstiklal Avenue
İstiklal Avenue

In June 2013 very important events happened in Gezi Park. Starting as an enviromental protest to protect the park transformed into people’s movement for better democracy, human rights and freedom request. The clashes were very big and mostly broadcasted global televisions. Gezi Park protests already become one of the most important moments in modern Turkey’s history and the park must be seen to the memory of the fight which seems to be won by the people. You may see more information from wikipedia article of Gezi Park protests

Gezi Park protests (15th June 2013)
Gezi Park protests (15th June 2013)


Google Maps location link: Taksim Square

9- Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern is not just a water supply facility, it is one of the most exciting historical places of the Byzantium era.

Basilica Cistern also known as Sunken Palace or Sunken Cistern
Basilica Cistern also known as Sunken Palace or Sunken Cistern

The architecture and the art which included in the columns makes Basilica Cistern one of the most exotic places in İstanbul.

The upside down head of Medusa
The upside down head of Medusa

The Medusa(upside down headed) and the marks on columns which represents the slaves lost in the construction of the cistern are unique artworks.

Yerebatan Caddesi 13, Sultanahmet, +90 212 522 1259,, entrance £3.50. Open Tue-Sun 9am-7.30pm (Apr-Sep), 9am-5pm (Oct-Mar)

Google Maps location link: Basilica Cistern

8 – Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is probably one of the world’s wonders both as a temple and also as a construction miracle with its record breaking dome with 32 meters radius.

Hagia Sophia a great temple over the Bosphorus
Hagia Sophia a great temple over the Bosphorus

It has wonderful tiles, christian paintings and great marble works inside the temple. It was built to show Byzantium’s power and pride. In Ottoman era, Hagia Sophia transformed to a mosque(Aya Sofya) and after the collapse of the empire, new Turkish state transformed Hagia Sophia to a museum.

Inside Hagia Sophia
Inside Hagia Sophia

If you like historical wonders, Hagia Sophia is a definitely must see place for you.

Aya Sofya, Sultanahmet Square, +90 212 522 0989,, entrance £7. Open Tue-Sun 9am-7.30pm (May-Oct), 9am-5pm (Nov-Apr)

Google Maps location link: Hagia Sophia

7- Topkapi Palace

Once upon a time, an emipre ruling to three continets and has all the power on Mediterranian, was ruled from this palace.

Aeral view of Topkapı palace over the Bosphorus
Aeral view of Topkapı palace over the Bosphorus

The palace witnessed Ottoman Empire’s golden age, has lots of rooms, meeting halls.

Entrance of Topkapı Palace - The Great Gate
Entrance of Topkapı Palace – The Great Gate

It’s armory consists lots of important weapons of historical figures of many nations. Also the palace exhibits prophet Mohammed’s relics, his beard and cardigan.

And the palace also consists a special part: Harem

Sultanahmet, +90 212 512 0480,, TL20 (£7). Open Tue-Sun 9am-6pm (Harem 9am-5pm)

Google Maps location link: Topkapı Palace 

6- Sultanahmet Mosque – The Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) was built to show Ottoman Empire’s power and religious impact. It was just build just across the Hagia Sophia to compete the arcitectural capabilities of the Empire against Byzantium.

Sultanahmet Mosque or The Blue Mosque
Sultanahmet Mosque or The Blue Mosque

It has a great inner atmosphere and dome painted with Islamic arts.

Google Maps location link: Sultanahmet Mosque – Blue Mosque

5- Istanbul Archeology Museums (Archeological Complex)

İstanbul Archeological Museums include three main parts: The Archaeological Museum, the Ancient Orient Museum (Eski Şark Eserleri Müzesi) and Tiled Kiosk Museum (Çinili Köşk Müzesi).

Ancient Orient Museum (Eski Şark Eserleri Müzesi) has historical artifacts from Egyptian Mummies to Babil Lions to Persian statues.

İstanbul Archeological Museums - Main Museum
İstanbul Archeological Museums – Main Museum

The Archaeological Museum is the main museum and it includes lots of ancient artifacts, lots of tombs, very old cultural artifacts. And has more items than British Museum. The museum is underrated, and you will be surprised with its richness of artifacts. Even its garden is full of statues and tombs from all periods of Anatolia. Also most remarkable item is Alexander Sarcophagus

Here is a video of Alexander Sarcophagus

Tiled Kiosk Museum (Çinili Köşk Müzesi) includes wonderful tile work from Ottoman period.

Google Maps location link: İstanbul Archeological Museums

4- Dolmabahçe Palace

Main gate of Dolmabahçe Palace - Wonderful marble works
Main gate of Dolmabahçe Palace – Wonderful marble works

Dolmabahçe Palace is the pearl of architecture. Great patterns, great marble work, amazing furnitures, great atmosphere near the Bosphorus. Don’t forget to drink a cup of coffee against the Bosphorus on its front side.

Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu, Gulhane Park, +90 212 520 7740, entrance £3.50. Open Tue-Sun 9am-6pm (May-Sep), 9am-4pm (Oct-Apr)

Dolmabahçe Palace from the Bosphorus
Dolmabahçe Palace from the Bosphorus

Google Maps location link: Dolmabahçe Palace 

3- Maiden’s Tower

One of the most romantic place in İstanbul. Its building stroy is also romantic, Roman Empire ordered to build it to keep her daughter away from her lover. The tower was built-in sea, in the middle of Bosphorus.

Maiden's Tower
Maiden’s Tower

You may go from Üsküdar with boat. It’s 5 mins away from the shore and the two-way ticket is about 10 Turkish Liras. Also there is a great restourant inside the tower. But as a special restorurant the prices is a bit be high for a full dinner.

Google Maps location link: Maiden’s Tower

2- Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar represents the old soul of oriental cities, and it is the most exotic place in İstanbul. As you may understand from its name, it is a very great closed bazaar. It is a famous place, lots of movies shot there including James Bond movies.

The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar

Thousands of shops distributed through small streets due to their products; textiles, gold and jewelery, leather, spices and souvenirs…

Google Maps location link: Grand Bazaar

1- Galata Tower

Galata Tower
Galata Tower

Galata Tower is one of the icons of İstanbul. Great view will feel your heart with mixed emotions. Sunset is great from there. The tower has also a night programme, mostly Turkish nights with belly dancers.

Also the area of the tower is great, lots of cafe’s, bars, oriental shops. Also there are lots of hostels in this area. It is a central point so prefered due to this reason.

Beyoğlu, +90 212 293 8180,, entrance £3.50. Open 9am-8pm

Google Maps location link: Galata Tower

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  1. The Sultanahmet area is the most amazing place I’ve ever been to. The Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque face each other, and the amazing Topkapi palace is just a short stroll away. Getting a Müzekart+ museum card was the best thing I ever did.


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