Picture by creative.sulekha.com

Picture by creative.sulekha.com

So many options, so little time. In a city so rich with history, culture and architectural wonders, where on Earth does one start? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered! At least for the first five places to work into your itinerary.

Süleymaniye Mosque

Dominating Istanbul’s skyline, the Süleymaniye is the largest mosque in Istanbul. This architectural masterpiece was designed by the great Otttoman-era architect, Mimar Sinan, for Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Equally as impressive from up close, it is undoubtedly one of Istanbul’s most stunning landmarks. The mosque was recently restored to its original beauty and still reigns supreme out of the 42 mosques Sinan designed in Istanbul. This complex of Islamic and Byzantine buildings and courtyards is the finest example of Ottoman opulence and is a must see for tourists and locals alike.

Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque

Wondering how this early 17th century mosque was dubbed “The Blue Mosque”? The fine cerulean İznik tiles that line its interior, of course. Originally named after Sultan Ahmed I, the Sultanahmet is the resting place of that great leader. The mosque is one of the few in the world to boast six minarets as well as a main dome with eight secondary domes. This architectural beauty is still in use as an actual mosque and its unique tiles give it an aura that many come far and wide to see.

Topkapi Palace

Cited by UNESCO as one of the best examples of palace architecture of the Ottoman era, Topkapi Palace is home to breathtaking views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It’s no wonder that this remarkable landmark was the seat of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. Housing generations of Ottoman sultans, Topkapi Palace is just as dazzling from the outside as it is from the inside. The envy of foreign leaders from Peking to Paris, this landmark’s maze of lush green courtyards, stunning architecture, delicate kiosks and treasury of crown jewels is what makes it a location that you absolutely should not miss.

Hagia Sophia

Once functioning as a cathedral and mosque, now a museum, this landmark shows off its unique geographical location and mixed cultural heritage by blending Eastern and Western influences. Built in 360 B.C.E, any visit to Istanbul is incomplete without visiting the building that changed the course of European architecture. As the “eighth wonder of the world”, featuring some of the most exquisite examples of Byzantine architecture, we’d say it’s definitely worth a visit.

Basilica Cistern

Do your friends think you’re a little quirky? With an up-side down head of Medusa, among other oddities, this unusual underground landmark should be your first stop. Although the cistern was built in the sixth century B.C.E, it was abandoned and forgotten for centuries, and was once a part of a massive and complex water storage and transportation system that supplied water to Constantinople. Recently renovated, it is one of Istanbul’s top five must see landmarks.

Don’t leave any of these must see Istanbul landmarks off your list! Book your stay at the Hotel Büyük Keban today and visit these top 5 attractions with your family and friends.