Monuments to visit in Istanbul
Here is the little guide to the must-see monuments in Istanbul:
SAINT SAVIOR IN CHORA (KARİYE MÜZESİ) – CLOSED RIGHT NOW
This church from the Byzantine era is small in size but impressive because of the richness of its interior and particularly for its mosaics. It was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans in 1511 and is now a museum. We absolutely recommend you visiting this museum as each tile has its own little story.
Address: Kariye Müzesi, Eyüp, Kariye Cami Sokak No:26, İstanbul
TOPKAPI PALACE (TOPKAPI SARAYI)
Located in Sultanahmet, Topkapı Palace was the official residence of the Sultans for four centuries from the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans. It is built on the edge of the Seraglio, a strategic location in the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait. It extends over 70 hectares and at the time was like a city within the city. The palace had four courtyards, gardens, kiosks and fountains. More than 4,000 people lived there including a thousand women in the harem. These days as a visitor you can admire the gorgeous rooms of the palace, and collections of works and objects such as weapons, jewelry, and clothes from the Ottoman court through the ages.
Prices: 320 TL to visit the palace and Saint İrene Church, 420 TL with the harem. Open every day except Tuesdays, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm in summer (from April 1st to October 1st) last ticket sale at 5:00 pm, and from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm in winter (from April 1st to October 1st).
Address: Topkapi Palace Museum, İstanbul
Website: Topkapı Palace
DOLMABAHÇE PALACE (DOLMABAHÇE SARAYI)
The magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace was the residence of the Sultans and the main administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from 1853 to 1922. It is the Ottoman version of the Versailles Palace. It is very luxurious, the exterior is made of white marble and the interior decked with gold. Inside, you can find a very rich collection of art and exceptional pieces such as a beautiful collection of Baccarat chandeliers. This is one of the most beautiful monuments of Istanbul, Atatürk even made it his presidential residence during the last years of his life.
Prices: 300 TL to visit the palace, the harem and the museum of the palace’s paintings. The visit is obligatorily accompanied and is done every day from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, except Mondays.
Address: Vişnezade Mh., Beşiktaş, İstanbul
Website: Dolmabahçe Palace
THE BASILICA CISTERN (YEREBATAN SARNICI) – CLOSED FOR RENOVATION
The Basilica Cistern was the largest underground cistern, it was used to supply water to the city of Constantinople. The Byzantines wanted to build large cisterns to store water in order to have water even during the summer. The tank is a large underground room with 8 meters high columns and water basins. The lighting of columns combined with classical music playing in the background prevails mystical atmosphere.
Price: 190 TL. Open every day, from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Address: Alemdar Mh., Şeftali Sk No:6, Fatih, İstanbul
Website: Basilica Cistern
İnstead, you can visit the Şerefiye Citern and/or the Binbirdirek Citern (where festivals, concerts and ceremonies are often organized).
The Şerefiye/Theodosius Citern
Price : 165 TL, open everyday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Address : Binbirdirek, Piyer Loti Cd. No:2/1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
The Binbirdirek Citern
Price : 80 TL, open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Address : Binbirdirek, İmran Öktem Cd. No:2/1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
THE HAGIA SOPHIA GRAND MOSQUE (AYASOFYA) AND THE BLUE MOSQUE (SULTANAHMET CAMİİ)
Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque / Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi (formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia) and the Blue Mosque are facing each other on the large esplanade of Sultanahmet. Two different times, two different religions.
- – The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque / Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi is a former Byzantine church built by Emperor Justinian in 537. Until its transformation into a mosque by the Turks, it was the largest religious monument in the Christian world. It took no less than 10,000 people to build it. Its dome is impressive: 36 meters of diameter 56 m high above the ground. It is now a museum, and many mosaics from the Byzantine era have been updated by archaeologists
Price: Free entrance. Open every day.
Address: Ayasofya Meydanı, Sultanahmet Fatih, İstanbul
Website: Hagia Sophia
- – The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) was built a thousand years after Hagia Sophia and is facing the Church. Commissioned by Sultan Ahmet from the disciple of the great Turkish architect Sinan, it was built by Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa. The sultan wanted to show that the Ottoman architects had nothing to envy to their Christian predecessors. The mosque is called blue because of the blue tiles of its interior walls. This is one of the few mosques in the world with six minarets. When the number of minarets was revealed, the sultan was obliged to offer a seventh minaret at the Holy Mosque of the Kaaba in Mecca, because it was at the time the same number of minarets as the latter. The Blue Mosque is today one of the most visited tourist attractions of Istanbul. Admission is free like all the mosques in Turkey.
Price: Free entrance. Open every day.
Address: Sultan Ahmet Mh., Torun Sk No:19, İstanbul
Website: Blue Mosque
MOSQUE OF SULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICIENT (SÜLEYMANİYE CAMİİ) AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
The Süleymaniye Mosque is a beautiful mosque built by Sinan, the great Ottoman architect of Suleiman the Magnificent. It was built between 1550 and 1557. Details of the mosque are fascinating and all have their own anecdotes, such as the four minarets and balconies 10 indicating that Suleiman the Magnificent was the fourth Sultan of Istanbul and the 10th the Ottoman dynasty. In the vicinity of the mosque, you will find a real city with schools, a library, a hammam, and restaurants.
Price: Free entrance. Open every day. But be careful to not come during the prayers.
Address: Süleymaniye Mh., Fatih, İstanbul
Website: Süleymaniye Mosque
- Day in Istanbul: Beyoğlu District (Taksim, Istiklal, Galata and Cihangir)
- Day in Istanbul: the Sultanahmet district
- Culinary and cultural walk on two continents
- Visit to discover the contrasts of Istanbul: Fatih, Fener, Balat and Beyoğlu
- Must-see museums in Istanbul
- Our guide to public transportation in Istanbul
- Home page