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General Information  :: Attractions in Istanbul

'Where the east meets the west.'

Istanbul is one of the oldest cities in the world, situated on the shores of the Bosphorus straight. This straight divides, and connects the two continents of Europe and Asia, as well as joining the Black and the Marmara Sea. This historical city was once the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and the Ottoman Empires. Istanbul still preserves the cultural, historical and artistic values of centuries past. Today Istanbul is the capital of tourism, business, and culture.

Istanbul consists of two parts: EUROPEAN PART | ASIAN PART


New city center | Old city center


Dolmabahce Imperial Palace (Open everyday except Monday & Thursday)
The latest official residence of several Ottoman Sultans between mid-19th and 20th century. This palace has the largest chandelier in the world, weighing 4.5 tons, a gift from Queen Victoria. Dolmabahce Palace is a double-storied Barroque style building that stands 600 meters from the ground. Definately one of the best maintained palaces in Istanbul.

Yildiz Palace
Yildiz (Star) Palace is a complex of pavillions and a mosque which was completed in the reign of Abdulhamit II., late 19th century. This palace has the largest park of all.

Military Museum (Open everyday except Monday & Tuesday)
The exhibiton of Ottoman Military History, including huge field tentused on campaigns. Janissary Band show is available everyday between 15:00-16:00 PM

Naval Museum (Open everyday except Monday & Tuesday)
In Besiktas quarter by the Bosphorus. It contains Imperial boats, used to row the sultans across Bosphorus, as well as any interesting items from Ottoman Naval History

Rumeli Fortress
Built by Mehmet the Conquerer one year prior to the conquest of Constantinopole and completed in four months as one the most beautiful samples of Military Architecture in the world. The Amphi Theatre inside is still used during the Istanbul Music Festival.

Galata Tower (Open everyday)
14th century Genoese watch tower, 62 meters height. Now it's a night club from where you can enjoy the view of the whole city.

Museum of Fine Arts (Open everyday except Monday & Tuesday)
One of the best museums in Turkey for painting and sculpture, dating back to the late 19th century.

Aviation Museum (Open everyday except Monday)
This Museum traces the development of flight technology in Turkey.

Whirling Dervishes Museum (Open everyday except Monday)
Contains Turkish Divan Literature items. Irregular whirling dervishes' performance.

Ataturk Museum (Open on weekdays)
The house where the founder of Turkish Repuclic lived. The Museum contains of Ataturk's personal belongings.

AKM - Ataturk Cultural Center
Perfomances of opera, bale, dramas and concerts. (Taksim Square)

Convention and Exhibition Center of Lutfi Kirdar
The center where the most important international conferences were held (HABITAT, OSCE)

Concert Hall of Cemal Resit Rey
The classical music and opera hall.

Beyoglu District
The center of nightlife where all kinds of music played, traditional and international restaurants, the cinemas and handicraft exhibition centers were located.


Blue Mosque
Across from St. Sophia is the supremely elegant, imperial, six-minaret mosque of Sultan Ahmet I. built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, it is known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificient interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles.

St. Sophia Museum (Open everyday except Friday)
This ancient basilica, built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century, is one of the architectural marvels of all time. Its immense dome rises 55 meters above the ground and 31 meters in diameter. The beautiful decorations include stunning Byzantine mosaics.

Topkapi Imperial Palace (Open everyday except Tuesday)
Overlooking The Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea stands a maze of buildings that was once the great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The first courtyard is a magnificient wooden garden. To the right of the second court, shaded by cypress and plane trees is the place kithen, now housing an exquisite collection of crystal, silver, and Chinese porcelain, while on the left is Harem, the secluded quarters of the wives and concubines of the sultan. The third court contains the Audience Hall of the Sultan, the library of the Sultan Ahmet the 3rd, an exhibition of robes worn by the sultans and their families, the fanous jewel of the Imperial Treasury and finally, an exhibition of miniatrues. In the center of the third court is the Pavillion of the Holy Mantle, enshrining relics of the Prophet Mohammed.

In front of the Blue Mosque is the site of the ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life. Of the monuments which once adorned only three remain: the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column os Constantine. Remains from the curved end of the Hippodrome wall can be seen to the south of these three monuments. Today, it's center of historical, cultural and touristic activities. The square with its surrounding area resembles an open-air museum.

Basilica Cistern (Openeveryday except Monday)
Close to St. Sophia is the 6th century Byzantine cistern known as the Yerebatan Sarnici. Fine brick vaulting is supported by 336 Corithian co.

Archeological Museums (Open everyday except Monday)
These are situated on the perimeter of the first court of Topkapi Palace. The very rich collection of classical antiquities in the Archeological Museum includes the celebrated Alexander Sarcophagus, and the Athena Temple from Assos. The Museum of the Ancient Orient displays antiquities from the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hatti and Hittite civilizations.

Mosaic Museum (Open everyday except Monday)
This Museum was built to preserve "in-situ" the exceptionally fine mosaic pavements from the 5th and 6th centuries which were in the Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperor.

Turkish&Islamic Arts Museum
Built in 1524 by Ibrahim Pasa, grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificient, it was the grandest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire. It is now used as a museum for many beautiful Turkish and Persian miniatures, Seljuk tiles, Korans and antique carpets.

St. Irene Museum
St.Irene was the first church in Istanbul built by the Constantine in the 4th and rebuilt by the Justinian. It is reputedly the site of a pre-Christian temple.

Theotokos Pammorikastos Church-Fethiye Mosque
This was the Byzantine church known as the "Joyous Mother of God" a building splendidly restored in the 1960's by the Byzantine Institue of America. The main body of the church was constructed in the 12th century by two member of the nobility, John Commenus and his wife. The Ottoman Sultan Murad the 3rd converted the building into an Islamic place of worship, naming it Fethiye Mosque.

St. Saviour Chora-Kariye Museum&Mosque (Open everyday except Tuesday)
The 11th century church of "St. Saviour" in Chora is, after St. Sophia, the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul.The walls are decorated with superb 14th century frescoes and mosaics on a gold background. The church is remarkeble museum of Byzantine art that influenced European Rennaisance. Here you will find quite carefully tended garden facing old wooden houseswhere you can enjoy tea or coffe.

St. John of Studius Church-Imrahar Mosque
About 500 yards in front of the Yedikule, on the right, is an enormous but dilapiated and roofless building. This is the Imrahor Mosque converted from the ancient Ayios Ioannis Prodomos, St. John the Forerunner which is extremely diffcult to get into. Its central entrance is composed of four magnificient Corinthian columns in-antis supporting a sumptuously carved architrave, frieze, and cornice.

Calligraphy Museum
As in all classical medrese, the students' cubby-holes completely line the four sides of the lecture hall. Stands directly opposite the main entrance. Now restored, the building shelters the municipal library and the Calligraphy Museum. The Ottoman calibraphers used their superb writing to decorate the beautiful blue faience of the mosque, and the turbe of the princes of viziers.

Grand Covered Bazaar
This is the favorite shopping center of the Old City. With more than 4500 shops with each trade having its own area. Goldsmiths' street, the carpet sellers str., Souvenir, Leather, and so on. From the great variety of goods offered, there is something to suit every taste and pocket.

Spice Bazaar
Built as a part of the Yeni Cami extended walls in 1664 which is located next to it. It is called the Egyptian Bazaar because the spices and herbs used to be brought from or through Egypt . During the Ottoman period it was known as a place where shops sold only spices. The air here is filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice. It has a similar building shape to the Grand Covered Bazaar.


Beylerbeyi Palace (Open everyday except Monday & Thursday)
Summer Palace and the bosphorus built in 1865. Many famous figures took place here, including the Empress Eugenie, Wife of Napoleon III.

Leander's Tower
12th century tiny islet at the entrance of Boshphorus. It's going to serve as a cafe-restaurant in the near future.

Anatolian Fortress
Built between 1394-1402 to central passage of the ships through the Bpshphorus by one of the famous Ottoman Sultan, Bayezid.

Camlica Hill
Late 19th century resort with a very nice view of Boshphorus, historical peninsula and islands.

Uskudar was known as Crysopolis -the city of gold- in the Byzantine era. Because the windows of the tiers of houses facing Bosphorus prismatically reflect the golden rays of sunset and European fludal tax scutage was collected in Medieval period in Uskudar area.

Kucuksu Pavillion
Middle 18th century building, a sea-side mansion far entertainments, picnics.


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