Istanbul Top 10 Attractions
Istanbul is the most populated city of Europe situated on both sides of Bosporus Straits. Strategically Istanbul is considered as world’s most important city as it is the gateway between Asia and Europe due to its geography. Istanbul is also located on famous Silk Road Route and accounts for the major portion of trade between the two continents.
Historically Istanbul emerged as a Greek settlement ‘Byzantium’ in 660 BC. The city was made the capital of Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the great in 330 AD. The name also changed from Byzantium to Constantinople. In mid fifteenth century it was captures by the Turks. From 1453 to 1923 Constantinople served as capital of the Ottoman Empire.
The present name Istanbul emerged in 1920’s during a movement to Turkify the cities names. Istanbul is famous for its architecture, Islands, straits, beaches, foods and unique culture. It is the 10th most visited city in the world with annual 10 million foreign tourists. If you have planned to visit Istanbul then keep reading this blog. Here are the top 10 tourist attractions of Istanbul and best places to visit in Istanbul.
Bosporus is the natural strait located between Asian and European Istanbul. It also joins the Mediterranean Sea to Black Sea. Bosporus Strait is used for maritime trade between East and West. On the other hand the land trade passes through three bridges of Bosporus known as 15th July Martyrs Bridge, Fatih Sultan Muhammad Bridge and Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge. On both sides of the strait there are many beautiful historic buildings of Ottoman Era. For tourists, ferry ride from one part of strait to another part is of much interest. Tourists love the Bosporus cruise tour to explore the beauty of coastal Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia is considered as one of the seven wonders of the medieval world. It was constructed (532-537 AD) as a Christian Church by Emperor Justinian 1. The church was converted to the imperial mosque after the conquest of Constantinople in 29th May 1453. Whereas iIn 1935 the mosque was converted to Museum by Ataturk. It is now included in UNESCO world heritage sites. The most striking feature of Hagia Sofia is its massive dome with a diameter of 102 feet and height of 180 feet. The interior has the largest paintings of Jesus and Mary.
Topkapi Palace served as the first royal residence of Ottoman Sultans from fifteenth to nineteenth century. The construction started in 1459 by Fatih Sultan Muhammad 2 and future sultans enlarged it. It was converted to museum in 1924 by Mustafa Kemal. The palace has four courtyards. Topkapi Palace houses many beautiful buildings like Imperial Council Meeting Hall, Harem, Royal Kitchen, Sultan Ahmed 3 Library, Yerevan Kiosk, Baghdad Kiosk, fountains, treasury building, Church Hagia Eirene, Ottoman clothing, paintings and weapons. It also has the belongings of Muhammad (PBUH) and his followers.
Grand Bazaar is the large shopping mall in old district of Istanbul called Fatih. To make Istanbul the commercial hub of the world, Fatih Sultan Muhammad started its construction in 1455. The Grand Bazaar expanded until 1730. Now the bazaar lies between Bayezid 2 Mosque and Noor Osmani Mosque. It is considered as the first shopping mall of the world due to its size and covered shops. Grand Bazaar is now the World’s #1 tourist hotspot as it is visited by approximately 100 million people every year. Tourists love to buy carpets, clothes, colorful lamps, Jewelry, leather stuff, perfumes and shoes.
Galata Tower is the oldest stone tower in Istanbul built in 1348 by Genoese. The tower is 69.5 meters tall and 16.5 meters wide. The tower has an amazing history as according to 17th century historian Evliya Celebi, Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi flew using the artificial wings from the top of tower to Asian Istanbul. He was the first man to fly in human history setting the foundations for aviation research. From early 18th century Galata Tower was used for fire watching. Now tourists love to visit the observation deck for a panoramic view of Istanbul and Bosporus Straits.
Princes’ Islands are located in Sea of Marmara just the off coast Istanbul. The nine Islands are called as Big Island, Saddlebag Island, Fortress Island, Henna Island, Mother-of-Pearl Island, Flat Island, Sharp Island, Spoon Island and Rabbit Island. During Byzantine times Prices were exiled to these Islands. Later Ottoman Prices and royal offenders were exiled there. To visit these Islands you have to avail the ferry service from Istanbul. There are no trains or cars in the Islands but just the Horse carriages. Other attractions in Princes’ Islands are the Ottoman Era mansions and buildings.
Blue Mosque AKA Sultan Ahmet Mosque is located in Sultan Ahmet Square in Istanbul. The mosque is famous for six tall minarets, one central massive dome, four semi domes and 8 other small domes. The mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet 1 in 1609 and completed in 1616. It is made of granite stone and architect is Sedefkar Mehmed Agha. The mosque is called as Blue Mosque as blue hand-painted tiles have been extensively used in the interiors. Blue tiles give the feeling of blue interior. Millions of tourists visit the mosque every year due to beautiful exteriors and interiors.
Dolmabahce Palace is located on European Bosporus Coast. It was built in the mid 19th century by Sultan Abdul Majeed 1. The palace is one of the largest royal residences in the world and is famous for its architecture style which is the mixture of Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassic and traditional Ottoman. Dolmabahce Palace covers an area of 11 acres and has many rooms, baths, toilets, kitchens, gardens, halls and gates. Dolmabahce Palace is very famous among the tourists due to unique interiors, furniture, chandeliers, roof gardens, crystal stairs and large collection of paintings. Istanbul Top 10 Attractions.
Suleymaniye Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Suleiman the magnificent in 1553. Mosque completed in 1557 and since then it is the largest royal mosque of Ottoman period in Istanbul. The builder was the famous Sinan Mimar. The mosque has a covered prayer area and a courtyard. The central prayer area has a massive dome flanked by two semi domes. Mosque has 4 minarets. There are many mausoleums of the royal family in vicinity of the mosque. Suleymaniye Mosque is one of the top attractions of Istanbul as it was built during the peak of Ottoman Empire.
Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge
Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge is the 9th longest suspension bridge of the world located in Istanbul. It is the third bridge across Bosporus Straits connecting Asian to Europe. It is used by rails and other vehicles. The bridge is 58 meter wide, 1408 meters long and 332 meter tall. Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge is the second tallest bridge in the world. It is named after the 9th Sultan and 1st Caliph of Ottoman Empire, Yavuz Sultan Selim 1. Now the bridge is a top tourist destination in the world due to its beautiful design and landmark structures.
Istanbul Top 10 Attractions.