Istanbul Tourist Attractions

Istanbul tourist attractions include Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, a cruise on the Bosphorus, and Istiklal shopping street.

Topkapi Palace (www.topkapisarayi.gov.tr​​) is a former official palace of the Ottoman sultans, from 1465 until 1853.

After the fall of Ottoman Empire in 1921, Topkapi Palace became an imperial museum, which it still is today.

The palace complex features hundreds of rooms and dozens of buildings, but only the most important of them are accessible for visits by the public.

Highlights of the palace complex include its Ottoman architecture, as well as extensive collections of, for example…

…porcelain, historical weapons, shields, Ottoman miniatures, calligraphic Islamic manuscripts and murals, and Ottoman treasures and jewelry.

VIDEO: European travel journalist Rick Steves’ tour of the Topkapi Palace.

VIDEO: Topkapi Palace tour.

When it was completed in 537 AD, Hagia Sofia (www.ayasofya.org) was the largest cathedral in the world, and held that position for a thousand years…until the completion of the cathedral in Seville (in 1520).

However, in the year 1453, after the fall of Constantinople into Ottoman hands, the cathedral was turned into a mosque, and today, it is amuseum.

As an architectural tourist attraction, Hagia Sophia is especially famous for its massive domes, with the building, overall, being a peak example of Byzantine architecture.

Top highlights within the museum buiding include its diverse mosaics, a detailed marble door (in the western gallery), and the Pergamon marble jars.

VIDEO: Tour of Hagia Sophia.

Blue Mosque, on the other hand, whose official name is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is the national mosque of Turkey.

The mosque is, in fact, one of several mosques known by the name “Blue Mosque“, with Sultan Ahmed Mosque’s name coming from the blue tiles on the building’s inner walls.

The mosque was under construction from 1609-1616, and it is a significant example of classical Ottoman architecture, and has become one of the main Istanbul tourist tourist attractions.

VIDEO: Blue Mosque tour.

Of the Istanbul tourist attractions, Cruise on the Bosphorus strait, meanwhile, is an ideal way to explore this waterway separating Europe from Asia, with sea-views to the most beautiful parts of Istanbul.

The European part of Turkey is called “Rumelia“, while the Asian part is “Anatolia“.

You can participate in a cruise on the Bosporus strait with the public ferries, which transfer passengers via Bosphorus, from Eminönü to Anadolu Kavagi (near the Black Sea).

There are also public ferries that simply travel the short distance between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.

In addition to the public ferries, you can also tour Bosphorus using one of the tour operator ferries, which take tourists between various destinations along the waterway.

VIDEO: Introduction to the available Bosporus cruises.

Istanbul tourist attractions also feature shopping on the Istiklal street, one of the world’s most famous historic shopping streets, located within Beyoglu district of Istanbul.

Istiklal Caddesi is an elegant pedestrian street, about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) in length, and lined with a number of excellent…

  • boutiques, music stores,
  • book stores, art galleries,
  • cafes, theaters, libraries, and restaurants.

Among the street highlights are its 19th century unique Turkish architecture, starting from the medieval Genoese district to the Galata tower, leading up to the famous Taksim Square.

Instead of walking, you can also take the historic Istiklal tram, which runs from one end of the street to the other end, with the tracks going in middle of the pedestrian walkway.