The Top Five Sights Of Istanbul

20.August 2013

Our Journey

As one of the largest cities in Europe, Istanbul offers a huge number of interesting things to see and do for tourists visiting the city. From Roman ruins to Byzantine marvels and Ottoman wonders, there’s enough to satisfy even the most passionate of history lovers, as well as general tourists. Istanbul also suits those looking for a stylish get-away, with its famed Turkish baths, vibrant bazaars and luxury hotels, such as the breath-taking Kempinski Ciragan Palace. Sound tempting? To inspire your trip we’ve put together this top five of the best things to see and do in magical Istanbul.

Basilica Cistern

The construction that enabled drinking water to be brought to Istanbul perhaps doesn’t sound like the most exciting place to visit, but Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern is a surprisingly interesting attraction. Constructed in the sixth century and then forgotten for centuries, this cistern has been fitted with lights and music, creating a spooky and surreal atmosphere. Make sure to see the upside-down head of Medusa, a Roman relic that was repurposed by the builders of the cistern to make the base of a column.

Topkapi Palace

An absolute must-see of Istanbul, the Topkapi Palace has been the home of generations of sultans and their wives, who resided in the famous harem. The Topkapi Palace boasts many attractions, such as its stunning treasury of crown jewels and lush green courtyards. The palace is also a great place from which to take in some of the best views of the Sea of Marmara, Bosphorus and Golden Horn.

Blue Mosque

Fact collectors will be interested to learn that the early 17th-century Sultan Ahmed Mosque – commonly known as the Blue Mosque – is one of only a handful of mosques in the world to boast six minarets, but the majority of visitors will be more interested in marvelling at its breath-taking beauty. Head into the mosque (modest clothing will be required) to see the stunning blue Iznik-tiled walls that give it its name.

Galata Tower

Get a bird’s-eye view of the city from the balcony at the top of the Galata Tower. Constructed in 1348, the Galata Tower was the tallest building in Istanbul for centuries, and you can still see all the major buildings from its viewing platform. Aviation enthusiasts will also be keen to make a visit, as it was from this tower that Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi took flight using eagle wings in 1638, to supposedly inaugurate the first ever intercontinental flight.

Bosphorus Ferry Cruise

Enjoy the view of the Old City, with its twinkling lights and fishing boats on a Bosphorus ferry cruise. The best ferry to catch for an all-round tour of the city is the one from Karaköy (just over the Galata Bridge from Eminönü) to Kad?köy. You’ll need to buy two tokens (for the outbound and return voyages), but this means that you can stop off to explore Kad?köy and perhaps stop for a bite to eat.

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