If you are only in Istanbul for a short time or your window for sightseeing is minimal, you may be wondering which monuments and museums to see in the little amount of time you have during your stay. Here is a list of places to visit as they are unique to Istanbul and even top world travel destinations.
If you see only one sight in Istanbul, it should be Hagia Sophia, or Ayasofya. Sometimes called the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” Hagia Sophia has been a monument since 532 A.D. and spent 900 years as a church. It was also Istanbul’s primary mosque for nearly 500 years. It was opened to the public in 1935 as a museum. The architecture, decorative details, and religious artifacts are a sight to behold and not to be missed.
Many visitors put Topkapi Palace at the top of their list for places to go in Istanbul because of its incredible interior decor, lush gardens, and commanding views of the city as well as the Bosphorus, the Marmara Sea and the Golden Horn. Completed in 1478 by Sultan Mehmed II, the Palace has also served as Ottoman government offices. It is now partially open to visitors as a museum. Viewing the harem requires a separate ticket, but it is well worth the added expense.
The Atatürk Museum was the home of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk before he became the first President of Turkey. There are wonderful photo exhibits here that chronicle his life and the events leading up to the creation of Turkey as we know it today.
Mosaic art was at its peak during the Byzantine Empire. Istanbul’s Mosaic Museum houses the intricate tile work that made up the floor of the 6th Century Great Palace of Constantinople as well as the palace’s courtyard. The level of detail in this mosaic work is simply astounding.
Islamic Art Museum
While many museums focus on paintings, drawings and sculpture, the Islamic Art Museum contains a one-of-a-kind collection of wooden carvings, miniatures, Islamic calligraphy and metalwork. The carpets here, both from Istanbul and around the globe, are unlike any other in the world. The museum was once the palace home of Ibrahim Pasha, an official in the court of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
The Beyazit Tower, on the campus of Istanbul University, is a world cultural heritage site. It was used as a watch and fire tower during the Ottoman Empire. The tower is still put to good us; colored lights at the top tell Istanbul residents of impending weather. The tower light is a notable landmark on the Istanbul skyline at night. While only students at the university are permitted to enter the tower, it is worth photographing as a cherished vision on the cityscape.
The Galata Tower is another prominent figure on the Istanbul skyline. It was originally a lighthouse in the 6th Century, then a jail for captives, a watch-tower and an observatory for astronomical phenomena. You can enjoy the amazing panoramic views from the top of this tower, and there is a cafe there as well.
There are so many gorgeous sights to see in Istanbul that one trip will not be enough, but this list certainly offers an array of options. Ask the Concierge Department at Hotel Büyük Keban to help you make arrangements to see these wonders. We can give you directions and assist you with transportation as well and help plan an itinerary that fits in as much as possible. Contact us today to reserve your room and set up your sightseeing adventure.