Top Tourist Attractions in Istanbul

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By:-Sarah Arnesen, Aslo see: More tips for your Istanbul visit

What was once the capital of Turkey is now a truly amazing location for a city break. Culturally, historically and literally divided between east and west Asia and Europe, it makes for a fascinating city with plenty to see and do. Most of Turkey’s holiday makers will spend a good portion of time here, so here are some of the things you should see and do when visiting this enchanting city.

Old City Walls of Istanbul

Dating from back when Istanbul was Constantinople, the old city walls are rather hard to miss. Believed to be the largest fortress constructed in the Christian era, the various towers and extended fortification remain an incredible sight to see to this day. Although much of the walls have been dismantled as the city continued to grow beyond its medieval limits, a restoration programme has been underway since the 1980s and you can get a real glimpse of the imposing defence system on your Turkey holiday.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Grand Bazaar

A trip round the markets and bazaars is pretty much a given for any holiday to Turkey, and where better to try your hand at bartering than at one of the largest covered markets in the entire world? Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar has such a claim to fame and the sight itself is every bit as impressive as that implies – with over 58 streets and 6,000 stalls, it attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors on a daily basis. Although you can get a huge variety of goods and souvenirs from it, it is especially known for its jewellery, leathers, pottery, spices and carpets.

Sunken Palace Cistern Istanbul

Sunken Palace Cistern

James Bond aficionados may recognise the Sunken Palace as a set used in ‘From Russia with Love’, but it holds far more cultural significance than just that. Built around 532AD by Constantinople the Great, the mysterious cavern is held up below ground from 336 columns. Visitors walk over 2 acres of 12 inch thick water on wooden walkways, and are encouraged to marvel at the intricate design and occasional art exhibits.

Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum

The building that now houses the Turkish and Islamic Arts museum was built in 1524 and originally designed as the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, the first grand vizier to Suleiman the Magnificent. Nowadays the building houses a memorable collection of Islamic art – calligraphy, rugs, tiles and ethnographic displays from many of Turkey’s diverse cultures.

Byzantine Hippodrome Turkey

Byzantine Hippodrome

Once upon a time this was the political and recreational centre of Byzantine Constantinople and Ottoman Istanbul – nowadays, despite this action packed history, it is a tranquil park area. There are a number of throw backs to its historical past and atmospherically it still feels important, making it an essential area to visit on a holiday in Turkey.

Sultanahmet Blue Mosque Istanbul Turkey

Sultanahmet Mosque

One of the biggest tourist attractions on a Turkey holiday, the Sultanahmet Mosque is a beautiful piece of architecture in its own right, but is also of great historical importance. Construction began in 1609 and took seven years. It was designed as a rival to Ayasofya, and it certainly achieved its goals. From its striking minarets to its 20,000 blue tiles on the high ceiling, the Sultanahmet Mosque is a truly beautiful structure.

Ayasofya
Aya Sofia istanbul

Ayasofya

Translating as Church of the Divine Wisdom, this is one of the most impressive buildings that you are ever likely to see. Like the Sultanahmet Mosque, this was also originally built to outdo another building, in this case the Church of St Polyeuchtos. It was changed into a museum in 1935, which it remains to this day despite opening a prayer place in the east side of the building last year. The building is beautiful, as are the many artefacts that are now housed here – a must see on your holiday to Turkey.

Entrance of Topkai Palace Istanbul

Topkapi Palace

As the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans between 1465 and 1853, it’s no wonder that this is an absolute must see on any holiday in Turkey. Now a museum, it houses many fine artefacts from Turkish history in surroundings which are best described as lavish.

There’s plenty more to find in Istanbul, but with much of the fun in exploring every inch of this fascinating city for yourself you should uncover plenty of the hidden cultural and historical gems for yourself. With fine sites, food and entertainment, no holiday in Turkey would be complete without a city break in Istanbul.

Author Resource:->  Sarah Arnesen is the Marketing Manager for Anatolian Sky, a company offering incredible Turkey holidays (http://www.anatoliansky.co.uk/Home/Holidays-in-Turkey.aspx aspx). They provide holidays to the entire Anatolian region, including Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Turkey itself.

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