At Hotel Büyük Keban, we know how important it is to narrow down which of Istanbul’s most famous buildings you absolutely need to see, especially when time is of the essence. As one of Europe’s great capitals of culture, here is our very short list:
The Hagia Sophia
Known as Ayasofya in Turkish, this building is a brilliant example of architecture from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Made into a museum in 1935 after approximately 500 years as Istanbul’s main mosque, the Hagia Sofia boasts an Imperial Gate formerly reserved for the emperor, late 9th and early 10th century mosaics, a dome measuring 55.6 meters high, and 40 arched windows providing light to the building. Inside you will find holy relics, polychrome marble, gold mosaics, and floor decorations that defy the imagination.
The Topkapi Palace
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Topkapi, which means Cannon Gate, was the main residence of Ottoman empire sultans. Located in the heart of the city, the palace has hosted royal courts dating from 1465 to 1856. Once sultans began spending time closer to the Bosphorus, the palace was left to house the treasury, library, mosque, and mint until it was transformed into a museum in 1924. Here you will find a vast collection of jewelry, robes, porcelain, weapons, armor, Islamic manuscrips and murals, all from both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
The Blue Mosque
The Sultanahmet Camii was built from 1609 to 1616 under the rule of Sultan Ahmed. The mosque gets its name from the over 20,000 handmade blue tiles found in the interior, with traditional tiles installed at the lower levels. The majestic main dome stands at 43 meters high and measures 23.5 meters in diameter. The mosque is replete with eight secondary domes and six minarets, 250 stained glass windows, chandeliers, lamps once covered in gems and gold, and floors layered with carpets that are replaced regularly due to constant wear and tear. This mosque is an example of living history and includes a tomb, a madrasa or educational institution, and a hospice.
The second largest mosque in Istanbul and built by architect Mimar Sinan who started construction in 1550, the building was created for Suleyman the Magnificient and finished in 1558. Right next to the garden of Istanbul University in Beyazit, the mosque consists of a main dome measuring 53 meters high and 26.5 in diameter, four minarets, ten galleries, Iznik tiles lining the interior, oil lamps, and 128 windows. Here you will find the mausoleumn of Sultan Suleyman and his wife, as well as a Turkish bath, caravanserai, and schools of theology and medicine.
Located in Beskitas the palace was home to Ottoman sultans from 1856 and until 1924. Here all clocks have been stopped at 9:05 when the first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, died on November 10th, 1938. The building features baroque, rococo, and empire architecture and includes a harem, 285 rooms, 44 living rooms, 6 Turkish baths, and opulent gardens. Famed for its crystal staircase and 4,000 kg chandelier, the palace is a stunning example of many styles that flourished throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Book Your Stay
While planning your trip to Istanbul, be sure to explore the comforts of Hotel Büyük Keban, which is only a stones throw away from many of the cities’ most famous sites. Our concierge is always on hand to offer interesting facts and help with sightseeing plans during your stay. Contact us today to learn more or book your stay today!