We will tell you about the main attractions of Istanbul, the names and descriptions of which can be found on any map.
Istanbul is truly one of the most unique cities in the world. Istanbul effortlessly combines the captivating allure of the East with the dynamic modernity of the West, creating a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation. This vibrant city presents an abundance of natural wonders, cultural landmarks, and historical sites waiting to be discovered and explored.
Natural sights of Istanbul
The main natural attraction of this metropolis is undoubtedly the Bosphorus. However, the city is also home to several parks where you can relax in the shade after strolling through its bustling neighborhoods.
This magnificent 450 m² park boasts exotic shrubs, flowers and trees. There are also several cafes and restaurants, as well as souvenir shops.
Address: 34467 Sariyer/Istanbul
Once part of a palace complex, Gülhane Park is now a recreational area. Its main highlight is the abundance of pink bushes. The park also houses a small zoo, an aquarium, cafes, and children's attractions.
The Bosphorus is not only the main artery of Istanbul, in particular, and Turkey in general. This is the soul of the city, connecting such different East and West.
According to scientists, the strait is around 8,000 years old and was formed due to massive glacial melting.
In addition to picturesque views, the Bosphorus is also of cultural value:
its shores have witnessed numerous battles throughout history.
Many mosques, palaces, castles and other monuments of the Ottoman and Byzantine eras were built along the strait;
The bridge spanning the strait, constructed in the early 1970s, is one of the most modern structures of its kind worldwide, stretching over 1.5 kilometers.
Golden Horn Bay and Miniaturk Park
Golden Horn Bay owes its name to its fancy curved shape. In ancient writings, it is also known as Byzantium Bay.
Located on the shores of the bay, Miniaturk Park offers miniatures of historical and religious landmarks of Istanbul.
Park address: Örnektepe, İmrahor Cd. No:7, 34445 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey Website: miniaturk.com.tr Phone: +90 212 222 28 82 Park opening hours: daily from 09:00 to 18:00. Price park visits:20 TRY.
Historical and cultural sights of Kemer
The cultural monuments of Istanbul make up the largest list of attractions in the city. It includes numerous castles, luxurious palaces, majestic towers, and various museums.
The eras of the Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans are reflected in the castles and palaces of Istanbul. Many of the palaces are the hallmarks of the city.
In his pursuit of architectural magnificence, Sultan Abdülmecid I envisioned creating the grandest architectural masterpiece in the world. The result of his ambition is Dolmabahçe Palace, an extraordinary blend of Baroque and Rococo styles, unconventional for Islamic architecture.
The following interesting places await visitors inside:
three hundred rooms;
several dozen reception halls;
a small mosque and a library;
dozens of harem rooms.
Address: Vişnezade, Dolmabahçe Cd., 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey Website: millisaraylar.gov.tr Phone: +90 212 236 90 00 Working hours: from Tuesday to Sunday from 09:00 to 16:00. Price: from 60 TRY depending on the number of castle sectors visited.
One of the visiting cards of Istanbul and Turkey in general, is the Topkapi Palace. . It is a must-visit attraction included in most tour programs. Built in the 15th century, this grand palace served as the official residence for the rulers of the Ottoman Empire for four centuries. Today, it stands as one of the world's richest museums, covering an expansive area of over 700,000 m².
Travelers can see the following attractions:
The outer grounds: garden and terraces with many flowers, fruit trees and fountains;
Two inner courtyards: the first of which represents the museum itself, the second - preserved chambers, a harem, a library and other living quarters in their original form;
An observation terrace
with an amazing view of the Bosphorus.
Address: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Website: millisaraylar.gov. tr Phone: +90 212 512 04 80 Working hours: Wednesday to Monday from 9:00 to 18:00. Price: 72 TRY.
The residence of the Turkish rulers is located in the eastern part of Istanbul during the hot season. Built in the 19th century, it is known for its unique architectural blend of Baroque and Rococo styles. The name of the palace translates to "Lord of Lords," which reflects the lavishness of its interior and exterior spaces.
Address: Beylerbeyi, Abdullahağa Cd., 34676 Üsküdar/İstanbul, Turkey Website: millisaraylar.gov.tr Phone: +90 216 321 93 20 Working hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00. Price: 40 TRY.
Yıldız Palace is a complex of buildings dedicated to the mother of Sultan Selim III. It features a combination of European-style living quarters, Eastern-style courtyards, and a park area showcasing the fusion of different architectural styles.
Since 2020, the palace has been closed for renovation.
Towers, fortresses and other historical buildings of Istanbul
The city of Istanbul is home to a variety of towers, fortresses, and other historical structures. The municipality takes great care in preserving and renovating these landmarks to maintain their external beauty.
The Basilica Cistern
Yerebatan (Basilica Cistern) is a unique reservoir, created undergrounddating back to the 6th century BC. The area of Yerebatan is about 10,000 m². Today, one of the sights from the time of Constantinople allows tourists languishing from the heat to relax in the cool.
Inside, the cistern creates a mysterious atmosphere enhanced by artificial lighting.
Built in the 15th century, Rumeli Fortress, also known as the "Throat Cutter Fortress," was a strategic project initiated by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror II. Its purpose was to divide the city into eastern and western sections, effectively isolating Constantinople from neighboring areas. Recently, the fortress underwent thorough reconstruction, and visitors can now experience it in its near-original state.
Address:Rumeli Hisarı, Yahya Kemal Cd., 34470 Sarıyer/İstanbul, Turkey Website:gezipgordum.com Opening hours: Thursday to Tuesday from 9:00 to 19:00. Price: 15 TRY.
Galata Tower and Galata Bridge
Once the Tower of Christ, the Galata Tower has served various purposes throughout its centuries-old history, including being a lighthouse, prison, museum, and observation deck. Standing at a height of over 60 meters with a diameter of about 4 meters, the Galata Tower was constructed in the 14th century. From its upper level, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of Istanbul and the coast of the Sea of Marmara.
Today, from its upper level, you can see a stunning view of Istanbul and the coast of the Marmara Sea.
Next to the tower there is another attraction - the Galata Bridge or the Valide Bridge (so named because of the active participation of the ruler's mother in architecture).
Address: Bereketzade, Galata Kulesi, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey Website: beltur .istanbul Phone: +90 212 293 81 80 Working hours: daily from 09 :00 to 20:30. Price: 35 TRY.
Maiden Tower (Istanbul)
The majestic Maiden's Tower, also known as Kız Kulesi, is situated inside the Bosphorus. Once serving as a prison, lighthouse, customs point, and defense base, the tower now primarily functions as a restaurant, observation deck, and mini-museum for tourists.
Today, the main purpose of the Maiden Tower is to be a restaurant, observation deck and a mini-museum for tourists.
Address: Salacak, Üsküdar Salacak Mevkii, 34668 Üsküdar/İstanbul, Turkey Website: kizkulesi.com.tr Phone: +90 216 342 47 47 Working hours: daily from 9:15 am to 7:00 pm. Museum entry fee: 30 TRY.
Museums, squares and markets in Istanbul
For a budget-friendly experience, exploring the city's squares and visiting its main markets (such as the Grand Bazaar, Egyptian Bazaar, and the Çarşı of Çevahir Shopping Mall) and museums (Archaeological Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Military Museum, Innocence Museum, Pera Museum, and Rahmi Koç Museum) can be a great option. To save on museum visits, you can consider purchasing the Museum Pass Istanbul, a card that allows entry to all major museums in the city for 220 TRY.
Located in the Sultanahmet district, Sultanahmet Square, formerly known as the Hippodrome, was a venue for horse racing during the Roman Empire, over two millennia ago. Today, the square is home to several obelisks and monuments.
Address: Binbirdirek, Sultan Ahmet Parkı No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The main square of the lively Beyoglu district has something to attract tourists:
Republic monument, a popular spot for memorable photos;
sculptures of Kemal Ataturk and other rulers of the state;
Istiklal pedestrian street, a bustling pedestrian street that separates the Taksim and Galata neighborhoods;
Many cafes, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and other establishments.
Address: Binbirdirek, Sultan Ahmet Parkı No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
One of the remarkable museums in Istanbul owes its existence to centuries-old regulations prohibiting the export of historical treasures from the country. The Archaeological Museum houses approximately one million unique artifacts from the ancient, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras.
The building is surrounded by stunning gardens.
Address: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Website: muzeler.gov. tr Phone: +90 212 520 77 41 Working hours: daily from 9:00 00 to 17:00. Price: 30 TRY.
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art has been operating in Istanbul since 2004. Located on the shores of the Bosphorus, it offers visitors fashionable installations and exhibits.
Address: Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd. No:99, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey Website: istanbulmodern.org Phone: +90 212 334 73 00 Working hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00. Price visits: 72 TRY.
Haydarpasa Railway Station
A luxurious building in traditional oriental style, erected at the beginning of the 20th century, today is one of the main transport hubs in Istanbul. Haydarpaşa Railway Station serves as a connection point for trains from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and other Eastern countries.
The Grand Bazaar is a 15th century building. The luxury market is separated from the outside world by 22 gates. Inside, visitors will find original markets, hotels, cafes, hammams, and even mosques. There are around 4,000 shops bustling with trade.
Address: Beyazıt, Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Website: kapalicarsi.com.tr Phone: +90 212 519 12 48 Working hours: daily from 10:00 to 18:00.
Religious sights of Istanbul
Istanbul is remarkably rich in preserving both Islamic holy sites and Christian relics. The city boasts numerous active places of worship for various religious denominations, as well as churches that have been transformed into museums.
Originally conceived as a grand Christian cathedral, Hagia Sophia was constructed in the 6th century. It took five years to complete this majestic structure. However, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, it was converted into an Islamic mosque, remaining as such for nearly nine centuries. More recently, the municipality decided that Hagia Sophia should become a museum.
Inside, visitors will encounter unique architectural features:
a cross formed by the main and additional halls;
impressive columns and a visually soaring dome supported by 40 windows;
carved minbar and pulpit;
rune inscriptions and decorative motifs
Ornate embellishments made of ivory, wood, gold, silver, and precious gemstones
Address: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Website:muze.gov.tr Phone: +90 212 522 17 50 Working hours:from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00. Price:72 TRY.
This Islamic mosque, dating back to the 17th century, is located in the Fatih (Sultanahmet) district. Its architect is lovingly referred to as a jeweler by the locals, as the mosque's craftsmanship is incredibly intricate. It features the following characteristics:
a large number of blue towers and ornaments;
six minarets - a completely unusual number of Islam;
floral ornaments, handmade carpets and patterned stained glass windows;
The dominance of marble elements (for example, nihrab, a place for prayer, made of marble).
Address: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Website: sultanahmetcamii.org Phone: +90 212 458 44 68 Working hours: from 08:30 to 12:30, from 14:00 to 15:45, from 16:45 to 17:45, Friday from 13:30. Price: free.
The largest mosque in Istanbul is a testament to the Ottoman era. It was the brainchild of Suleiman the Magnificent and brought to life by the architect Sinan. The mosque complex can accommodate up to 5,000 worshippers and also houses kitchens, libraries, and baths.
In the buildings of the mosque the numbers 10 and 4 appear:
10 balconies indicates that in his own dynasty, Suleiman the Magnificent took 10th place;
4 minarets are not only a tribute to tradition, but also a sign that Suleiman is the fourth ruler of Istanbul.
Address: Süleymaniye Mah, Prof. Sıddık Sami Onar Cd. No:1, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Website: suleymaniyecamii.org Working hours: daily from 5:30 to 22:30. Price: free.
One of the remarkable and unique cultural structures, Chora Monastery or the Kariye Museum, stands out from most Turkish temples with its traditional Byzantine style.
Despite the unattractive façade of the building, the interior is mesmerizing. Numerous frescoes and mosaics of the faces of Christ and other Christian saints await guests.
Address: Dervişali, Kariye Cami Sk. No:18, 34087 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Website: muze.gov.tr Phone:+90 212 631 92 41 Working hours: daily from 9:00 to 17:00. Cost of visit 65 TRY.
Church of St. Irene
Once a Christian church and now a museum, the Church of St. Irene is located in the Sultanahmet area. There is a belief that its foundation lies on the ruins of the Temple of Artemis. Before the construction of Hagia Sophia, it hosted sessions of Ecumenical Councils.
Address:Cankurtaran, Topkapı Sarayı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Website: topkapisarayi.gov.tr Phone: +90 212 512 04 80 Working hours: from Wednesday to Monday from 9:00 to 16:00. Price: 36 TRY.
Istanbul is one of the most captivating cities in the world, rich in landmarks and attractions. It has something to offer to everyone, whether you are a child, an adult, a history enthusiast, or someone with a deep interest in religious matters.