Being home to museums, historical mosques, and buildings, Istanbul is one of the best tourist destinations in the world. With its richness in history, culture, heritage, and nature, Istanbul attracts millions of tourists each year. Here are Top 11 Best tourist attractions in Istanbul.
The Galata Tower was built in the 14th century by the Genoese as part of the Galata Walls when the Galata quarter was a Genoese colony in the Byzantine Era. It was converted to a fire watchtower after it was used as underground prison for some time in the Ottoman Era. The Galata tower underwent several renovations during the Ottoman Era as it suffered damages due to fires and earthquakes. It was restored by Istanbul Municipality in the 1960s and opened for tourists after it had fallen into ruins. In 2020, The Galata Tower was restored by the General Directorate of Foundations, and the cafeteria was removed, then the Tower reopened its gates to visitors as a museum.
The Galata Tower museum has artifacts reflecting all the historical periods of Istanbul which served as a capital for 16 centuries for three great empires. The Galata Tower was one of the tallest buildings in Istanbul until the mid-20th century. It also has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Istanbul. Galata Tower is on the tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Aya Sophia or Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)
Aya Sophia Mosque (or Aya Sofya in Turkish), formerly known as Hagia Sophia Church, is one of Istanbul’s top tourist attractions. This historical building was built 1,500 years ago as an Orthodox Christian cathedral and was converted into a mosque in 1453 after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, it continued to be a mosque till Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey decreed that it should be a museum.
Aya Sophia with its innovative architecture, rich history, religious significance, and extraordinary characteristics has been fighting against time for centuries, was the largest Eastern Roman Church in Istanbul. In 2020, Turkey’s President announced the decision after a court annulled the site’s museum status. And it is converted to a mosque again. However, the mosque is open to everyone.
Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)
Sultan Ahmet Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Camii in Turkish is also one of the Top Tourist attractions in Istanbul and Turkey and one of the most magnificent buildings in Turkey in terms of architecture. The mosque is adjacent to Aya Sophia. It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I between 1609 and 1617 on the historical peninsula in Istanbul. The mosque gets its name Blue Mosque from its interior decoration of tens of thousands of Iznik tiles.
Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi)
Topkapi Palace or Topkapi Sarayi (in Turkish) is one most colorful and Beautiful buildings in Istanbul. Various Sultans of the Ottoman Empire stayed in the palace and ruled the Empire from there. Topkapi Palace has many exhibition halls, a Treasury section, and Harem. The palace’s opulent pavilions, jewel-filled Treasury and sprawling Harem gives a fascinating glimpse about the lives of those Sultans.
Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest covered markets (bazaars). The Grand Bazaar has approximately 4,000 shops. Besides the colorful sightseeing you will have when you visit the Bazaar, you can buy Carpets, Lamps & Lanterns, Ceramics, Turkish Metalware, Jewellery, Hammam Accessories, and many more.
Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Cami in Turkish), is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Istanbul. It is situated high on the hill above Sultanahmet district. The Mosque is one of the most important examples of Classical Ottoman Architecture. Although tens of earthquakes occurred in Istanbul since the mosque’s construction, the walls of the mosque have not cracked. The Mosque was built as a part of the Süleymaniye Complex, which consists of a library, a hospital, a primary school, a Hammam, a burial ground, and shops.
Taksim square and Istiklal street
Taksim area is home to the Monument of the Republic. It is also the main hub of nightlife, shopping, fancy restaurants, and cafe in Istanbul. Tourists enjoy hanging out in Istiklal street and watching the nostalgic trams run along. There are many international chain stores, cinemas, and cafes. In addition, narrow side streets are also home to bars, antique shops, and rooftop restaurants with Bosphorus views.
Maiden’s Tower in Üsküdar
Maiden’s Tower (Kız Kulesi in Turkish) is a 30-meter-high tower built on a tiny islet off Salacak, in Üsküdar district which is a beautiful area located on the Bosphorus coast in the Asian side of the Istanbul. Üsküdar was one of the earliest Greek settlements on the Bosporus.
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (in Turkish: Türk ve Islam Eserleri Müzesi) is one of the best tourist attractions in Istanbul and the first museum in Turkey to include Turkish – Islamic artworks together. The museum opened its doors for the first time in 1914. It hosts Rare Arts of the Islamic World such as Emevi, Abbasi, Artuklu, Eyyubi, Mamluk, Seljuk, and Ottoman artworks. This museum is the top attraction for anyone fond in Ottoman and Islamic art.
Pera Museum or Pera Müzesi in Turkish is probably the most famous art gallery in Istanbul. It is a private museum founded by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation, inaugurated on 8 June 2005. The museum has some of the best collections of Ottoman-era paintings in the world. There are three permanent collections, “Orientalist Paintings”, “Anatolian Weights and Measures”, and “Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics”. The museum has a digital exhibition as well.
Istanbul Modern (Museum)
Istanbul Modern (Museum), just from the name and the photo you may have a hint about the artworks collections of this museum. If you guessed it contains collections of Turkish modern art, then you are right. Turkish modern art (in Turkish İstanbul Modern Sanat Müzesi) is just proving that Istanbul is not just about historical attractions and antique artworks only. You can enjoy contemporary artworks of Turkey in Istanbul Modern Museum.
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