The Mosque of Sultan Ahmed I (Sultan Ahmed Camii) is also called the Blue Mosque. The name comes from the blue tiles which can mostly be seen on the upper level. The mosque was designed by Ottoman architect Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa and was built between 1603-1617. The mosque is located on the southeastern side of the Hippodrome. The Blue Mosque has six minarets and is a working mosque, so it is closed to non-worshippers during the five daily prayer times. Entrance is free. Please wear respectable clothing, remove your shoes and cover your head if you are a woman before you enter. 2.3 km from hotel.
Hagia Sofia (Ayasofya) is considered by many people to be “the eighth wonder of the world” and is one of the most widely visited museums in the world. Hagia Sophia was an important monument during the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires and is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. There are many mosaics, marble pillars and other religious artifacts worth looking at inside, especially in the upper gallery. Construction of Hagia Sophia first began in 532 AD and opened in 537 AD. The current Hagia Sophia is in the third construction. Hagia Sophia was used as a church for over 900 years. Later it was converted into a mosque, and served as the primary mosque in the city for almost 500 years. In 1935 Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum. Closed Mondays. Entrance fee is 25TL. 2.3 km from hotel.
The Hippodrome of Constantinople (Sultanahmet Meydanı) was the heart of Constantinople and the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today this square has several famous monuments worth checking out. The Obelisk of Theodosius was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Theodosius from Egypt in 390 AD and is over 3,500 years old. At the other end of the Hippodrome stands the Walled Obelisk, from the 10th century and was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques. Originally brought from Delphi in Greece, all that is remaining of the Tripod of Plataea (Serpentine Column) is a spiral bronze base of a three-headed serpent sculpture. The parts of the serpent heads that were recovered are on display in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. At the southwestern end of the Hippodrome is the stone Column of Constantine Porphyrogenetus, which dates from the 10th century. 2.4 km from hotel.
The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayı “Sunken Palace” or Yerebatan Sarnıcı – “Sunken Cistern”) was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century to primarily supply water to the Byzantine Palace. The cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. There are 336 marble columns in the cistern, each 9 meters high, arranged in 12 rows of 28 columns each. The columns were mostly built in the Ionic, Corinthian and Doric styles. Towards the back of the cistern are two Medusa heads which are interesting as one is upside down and the other is sideways. The building has been renovated and is definitely worth a visit while you are in the area. The Basilica Cistern is open every day for visitors. The entrance fee is 10TL. 2 km from hotel.
Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı) was the home of the Ottoman Sultans and the heart of the Ottoman Empire for approximately 400 years. The palace was the center of eductation, government offices and administration of the Ottoman Empire. The construction of Topkapı Palace took place between 1460 and 1478 by the order of Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople. The Harem was the living quarters of the mother, wives and children of the Sultan. Topkapı Palace is situated on the Sarayburnu, with a beautiful view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea. It occupies an area of 700,000 square meters. In 1924 it became a museum and only a small part of the palace is open to visitors. The Harem has an extra entrance fee but is completely worth a visit. 2.6 km from hotel.
The Istanbul Archaeological Museum is a group of three archeological museums: Archaeological Musuem, Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art. The site of the museums is in the outer gardens of Topkapı Palace and was opened in 1891. The Archaeological museum is a wonderful place to visit, especially if you love history. This is one of the world’s largest museums with over one million objects that represent almost every era and civilization in world history. It is also Turkey’s first museum. There is a wonderful collection of Greek, Roman and Byzantine artifacts inside the museum. One of the most famous pieces in the museum is the Alexander Sarcophagus. Tickets are 10TL. Closed Mondays. 2.6 km from hotel.
The Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world and has been an important trading center since 1461. There are 60 covered streets and over 4,000 shops. There are between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. You can find just about anything you want to buy in the Grand Bazaar, such as jewelry, clothing, antiques, ceramics, handbags, carpets, leather and traditional and modern items. Prepare to spend at least 3 hours getting lost in the streets, comparing prices with multiple shops and bargaining for the best price. Take a tea break at one of the cafes inside, to watch the crowds walk by. The Grand Bazaar offers visitors a glimpse into the world of old Istanbul. Closed Sundays and bank holidays. The Grand Bazaar is about a 15 minute walk from the Blue Mosque area and is also accessible by tram. 1.3 km from hotel.
The Egyptian Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı) was built in 1664 and can be found at the southern end of the Galata Bridge near the Eminönü ferry terminal. As the name implies, you can find spices, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, teas, sweets and other traditional Turkish gifts. The surrounding bazaar streets are also worth checking out, giving you a glimpse into Turkish life. Often you can find things for a better price here than in the Grand Bazaar, so it’s a good place to go shopping and to buy souvenirs. It’s much smaller than the Grand Bazaar, yet many people prefer walking around the Spice Bazaar. Allow between 1-2 hours to explore this area. Open every day. 1.7 km from hotel.
Sehzadebasi Mosque, also known as Prince’s Mosque and Şehzade Mehmet Mosque, was completed in 1548. This mosque is one of the most historical mosques in Istanbul because it was the first major work designed and built by the master Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. The mosque was commissioned by Sultan Süleyman I the Magnificent in memory of his oldest son Prince Mehmed, who died when he was only 21 years old. This mosque is considered to be one of Sinan’s masterpieces of classical Ottoman style architecture. Sehzadebasi Mosque is located in the district of Fatih, close to Süleymaniye Mosque and about a ten minute walk from the Grand Bazaar. 500m from hotel.
Taking a cruise on the Bosphorus is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty that Istanbul has to offer and is often a highlight of any trip to this historical city. There are both public and private boats that offer Bosphorus cruises. Typically there are short trips, full trips and night cruises available. The Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (IDO) is Istanbul’s official sea bus, fast ferry and regular ferry company. They are located off the right docks of Eminönü when exiting the Galata Bridge. A short Bosphorus cruise is available daily in the summer and will take you from Eminönü to Istinye and back. A full Bosphorus cruise lasts several hours and will take you from Eminönü all the way to the Black Sea and back, making several stops along the way. A night cruise is a wonderful way to see Istanbul at night and runs during the hot summer months. Check the schedule ahead of time looking at several different companies to find a cruise that will fit your schedule.
Fatih Mosque (Fatih Camii) was completed in 1470 by the Sultan Fatih Mehmed “Mehmed the Conqueror” who conquered Constantinople in 1453. Sultan Mehmed’s goal was to build an Islamic monument more spectacular than the Ayasofia Church. The Fatih Mosque Complex was a religious and social building, which included a caravansaray (travel hostel), several hamams, a market, kitchens, school, hospital and graveyard. The Faith Mosque was built on the highest hill in Istanbul on the site of the Church of the Holy Apostles, an important Byzantine Church. The tomb of Sultan Mehmed is just outside the mosque and is worth a visit. To get there, take a bus to Fatih and the mosque is behind the tall walls near the bus stop. 1.3 km from hotel.
The Mosque of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent is Istanbul’s largest and most impressive mosque. The mosque was built by Sultan Süleyman in 1558 and was designed by the Ottoman Empire’s greatest architecture, Mirmar Sinan. The Süleymaniye Mosque sits on top of Istanbul’s third hill, just north of Istanbul University, overlooking the Golden Horn. You’ll also want to visit the elaborate tombs of Süleyman in the garden behind the mosque. The mosque complex (külliye) includes a hamam, soup kitchen, restaurant, hospital, schools and a caravansaray (travel hostel). There is a wonderful view of the Bosphorus and the surrounding area This mosque is definitely worth a visit. 1 km from hotel.
Galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü) spans the Golden Horn, connecting the old city with Beyoğlu, the northern district of Istanbul. Walking across the bridge is a wonderful way to enjoy the view of Istanbul and to take a break from the busy city life. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes under Galata Bridge. Be careful not to get caught by the fisherman’s poles while they are fishing on the bridge. Highly recommended are the fish sandwiches (balık ekmek), which you can get straight from the traditional fishing boats at the Eminönü end of the bridge on the western side of the Golden Horn. 1.9 km from hotel.
Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) is one of the most important towers in the world and was built by Byzantium Emperor Anastasius in the year 507 and was called Lighthouse Tower. The nine-story tower is 67 meters tall and was the tallest structure of the city when it was built. The tower was later rebuilt by Genoese, who named it Christ Tower. During the Ottoman Period, the tower was used to hold captives, spot fires in the city and even observe space. In 1632, Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi flew with wooden wings from the top of Galata Tower, believed to have been the first man to fly in history. Galata Tower has a restaurant and cafe and you can also enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of Istanbul from the balcony at the top of the tower. The cost to enter Galata Tower is 10TL. 3.1 km from hotel.
Chora Church, Kariye Museum (Kariye Müzesi) is off the beaten path, but is well worth a visit. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine church. The church was originally built outside the walls of Constantinople, south of the Golden Horn and the original name is the “Church of the Holy Savior Outside the Walls” or “in the country” (chora). The inside of the Chora Church is filled with famous Byzantine mosaics and frescoes, dating from the 14th century. The first Chora Church was built in the 5th century, later it was converted into a mosque in 1511 by vizier Hadim Ali Pahsa and it finally became a museum in 1945. Closed Wednesdays. 3.1 km from hotel.
Islamic Art Museum
The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum (Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi) was formerly the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, the first grand vizier to Suleiman the Magnificent and husband of the Sultan’s sister in the 16th century. The museum has a wonderful collection of carpets from around the world. There are also many beautiful examples of miniatures, woodwork, manuscripts, glasswork, metalwork and Islamic calligraphy and tiles on display, ranging from early Islam to modern times. The museum is in a central location, overlooking the Hippodrome. Closed Mondays. 2 km from hotel.
Kumkapı Fish Market
Kumkapı Fish Market (Balık Pazarı) is situated in Istanbul’s historic Kumkapı district, on the waterfront close to Kennedy Caddesi. This fish market is known for its fresh and seasonal fish, mostly caught in Turkish waters. This is the busiest and largest fishing port in Istanbul. The fishermen catch their fish in the Bosphorus, the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. The port has been used since the Byzantine times. The fish sandwiches (balık ekmek) are delicious and there are also upscale fish restaurants close by if you prefer to enjoy your fish meal in style. 1.1 km from hotel.
Miniaturk is one of the largest miniature parks in the world and was opened in 2003. The park contains 120 models built in 1/25th scale. The models are divided into three different areas in the park to show buildings that were built in Istanbul, Anatolia, and other Ottoman areas outside of Turkey. This park is a wonderful introduction to all historical places in Turkey and is a great place for children. The park lies at the north-eastern shore of the Golden Horn and is best accessible by ferry. The park is open every day. 1.7 km from hotel.
Beyazıt Tower (Seraskier Tower), named after the Ottoman ministry of war, was used as a fire-watch tower during the Ottoman period and is a world cultural heritage site. The 85 meter tower was built in 1749 by Sultan Mahmud II, and today is located in the courtyard of Istanbul University’s main campus. The tower sits on top of one of the seven hills in Istanbul. Today the tower’s lights currently change to forecast the weather: red means snow, yellow means fog, green means rain and blue means sun. The light from Beyazıt Tower can easily be seen at night along the Istanbul skyline. As of now only students of the university are allowed to visit the tower. But hopefully the tower will opened as museum in the near future. 1.4 km from hotel.
The Great Palace Mosaic Museum (Büyük Saray Mozaikleri Müzesi) hosts mosaics from the Byzantine period, which once covered the floor in the Great Palace of Constantinople in the 6th century. The mosaics are part of what remains of a large courtyard in the Great Palace, which was built by Constantine the Great. The museum is located close to Sultanahmet Square at the Arasta Bazaar. 2.2 km from hotel.
Maiden Tower (Kız Kulesi), also known as Damalis and Leander’s Tower, is located on a small island near the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait, 200 m off the coast of Üsküdar. This tower is believed to have been built around 340 BC and was used as a fortress in Byzantine times. According to a popular Turkish legend, a sultan had a beloved daughter but it was prophesized that she would die from a snake bite on her 18th birthday. The sultan had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus and the daughter lived there so she would be protected. However, she died after a snake was found hiding in a basket of fruit delivered to celebrate her birthday. Private boats make trips to the tower daily. There is a restaurant-cafe on the island, which is open to the public and is also a popular spot for weddings. 7.9 km from hotel.
Dolmabahçe Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayı) was built in the 19th century and is the largest palace in Turkey. The sultans moved their homes from Topkapı Palace to the more modern and luxurious Dolmabahce Palace after construction was completed. The design of the palace blends several different European styles with a more traditional Ottoman architecture style, creating a unique, modern and western design. The palace was the home of the last several sultans during the Ottoman Empire. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk moved the government offices to Ankara, but he stayed in a small room in Dolmabahçe Palace when visiting Istanbul. Atatürk died in the palace in1938 and his bedroom is now part of the museum. The palace is located on the Bosphorus, on the European Side of Istanbul. Dolmabahçe Palace is closed on Mondays and Thursdays. 5.7 km from hotel.
Yenikapı Sea Bus station
Yenikapı Sea Bus station (İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri – IDO) was founded in 1987 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. IDO operates fast catamaran ferry boats both within and outside of Istanbul. The Yenikapı Sea Bus station is an important hub for transportation in Istanbul, where buses, trains, Metro and ferries meet. The sea bus offers the fastest and easiest way to journey outside of Istanbul. Some popular destinations to visit are Bursa to visit Uludağ ski resort and Yalova, where you can visit the Termal Hot Springs. Within Istanbul, several popular destinations are Bostancı, Bakırköy and Kadıköy as well as other places in the Sea of Marmara. Arriving at Yenikapı Sea Bus station, you can take a Havataş aiport bus to Atatürk Airport or you can get to Taksim Square by taking an airport bus to Sabiha Gökçen Airport, on the Asian side. It’s about a 15 minute walk south from the Aksaray Metro stop along Atatürk Caddesi to the Yenikapı ferry terminal. 750m from hotel.
The Bosphorus Bridge (Boğaziçi Köprüsü) is one of two suspension bridges spanning the Bosphorus strait, connecting Europe and Asia. The bridge was officially opened in 1973 during the 50th anniversary celebration of the foundation of the Republic. The bridge is 1560m long and is one of the longest bridges in the world. It’s a wonderful experience to drive over the bridge, or to sail under it while traveling by ferry. At night, the bridge is beautifully illuminated with changing lights and patterns. 8.6 km from hotel.
Taksim Square is the modern city center and heart of Istanbul. Taksim Square is a famous meeting place and often attracts protests, parades and public performances throughout the year. The most important monument in Taksim Square is the Independence monument (Istiklal Aniti). Taksim Square lies at the beginning of Istiklal Street, which has many shops, cafes, restaurants, bookstores, patisseries, bars, night clubs, movie theaters and street vendors. This area is always crowded, bustling with life 24 hours a day. There is an old tram running along Istiklal Street 2.5 kilometers between Taksim Square and the Tünel funicular stop near Galata Tower. It is great to spend the whole day here in this area, exploring the side streets and enjoying the rich diverse life that Istanbul has to offer. Some highlights in the area worth a visit are Galatasaray Square at almost at the halfway point on Istiklal Street, the Flower Courtyard (Cicek Pasaji), St. Antoine and Santa Maria Churches, Armenian churches, synagogues, old mosques Pera Palace Hotel, Galata Tower and Galata Mevlevihanesi – a wonderful place to watch a Whirling Dervish ceremony. To get to Taksim from Kabataş, take the füniküler (underground cablecar) and from Karaköy, take the Tünel füniküler. Taksim is also very easy to get to by bus and Metro from anywhere in the city. 4.7 km from hotel.
The New Mosque (Yeni Camii) in Istanbul was built in the 1600s by Valide Sultan Safiye, mother of Sultan Mehmed III and is officially called the Mosque of the Valide Sultan. The Egyptian Bazaar is part of the New Mosque complex and is one of the most crowded places in Istanbul. The area in front of the courtyard entrance has hundreds of pigeons and you can often see people selling food to feed them. The mosque is open to both religious observers and tourists during prayer time, so if you go in to visit the mosque at this time, please be respectful. The New Mosque is in Eminönü, on the Golden Horn at the southern end of the Galata Bridge just behind the Spice Bazaar. The New Mosque is one of the most famous mosques in Istanbul and is an important part of the Istanbul skyline. 1.9 km from hotel.
Rüstem Pasha Mosque
Rüstem Paşa Mosque (Rüstem Paşa Camii) was built by a famous Croatian, Rüstem Paşa, who was one of the Grand Viziers of the Ottoman Empire and married to the daughter of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, Mihrimah Sultan. Rüstem Paşa Mosque was completed in 1561 by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan. The mosque is located in Eminönü by the Golden Horn in a central location close to many shops in the Hasırcılar Bazaar. The mosque is very beautiful and quiet, as it is often not visited by many tourists. 1.6 km from hotel.
Karaköy is located next to the northern part of the Golden Horn and is the modern name for ancient Galata. Karaköy has been a port area since Byzantine times. Galata Bridge connects Karaköy with the Old City. Ferry boats run every 10 to 20 minutes and the underground funicular, called Tünel, has been the easiest way to travel from the lower end in Karaköy up to İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu since 1876. Karaköy has been mostly a commercial neighborhood, but the opening of Istanbul Modern Art Museum in 2004 helped to revive this area, which is now filled with new hotels, restaurants, cafes, galleries and boutique shops. There are several churches, synagogues and museums in the area worth checking out. The most famous baklava shop in Istanbul is Karaköy Güllüoğlu and is an experience not to be missed. The baklava shop can be found right behind the Karaköy ferry terminal. 3 km from hotel.
Kefeli Mosque (Kefeli Camii) is a former Eastern Orthodox church originally dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The church was later jointly run by Roman Catholics and Armenians. It was built sometime between the 13th and 15th century, although the exact date is not known. The Catholic church was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period. Kefeli Mosque is located in Fatih district, relatively half way between the Chora Museum and Fatih Mosque.
The Eyüp Sultan Mosque was built by Mehmed the Conqueror over the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyub (Eyüp Sultan), the standard bearer and companion for the Prophet Mohammed who died there during and Arabic siege of the city in the 7th century. The Eyüp Sultan Mosque is considered to be a sacred site for Muslims and is the busiest on Fridays and throughout Ramadan. A recommended way to explore this area is to take a cable car up from the shore of the Golden Horn to the top. Make sure to enjoy the spectacular view while drinking a cup of tea at the famous Pierre Loti Cafe. Pierre Loti was a 19th century French writer and a lover of Istanbul and the café is named after him. After drinking some tea, you can walk slowly down the hill through the cemetery, which is built into the hills. Once at the bottom of the hill, you can take time to explore the mosque and mausoleum of Eyüp Sultan and the surrounding area. The easiest way to reach Eyüp is to take the Golden Horn ferry. 5 km from hotel.
The Golden Horn (Haliç) is an inlet of the Bosphorus, dividing the city of Istanbul into two areas. The name Haliç means “The Bay of Istanbul” and the body of water separates the north (new) from the south (old) areas of European Istanbul. The Galata Bridge crosses the Golden Horn at its mouth, connecting Sultanahmet, Eminönü and Sirkeci in the south with Karaköy, Galata and Beyoğlu in the north. The Golden Horn is an estuary that joins the Bosphorus just at the point where the straight enters the Marmara Sea, forming the peninsula of Old Istanbul. The Golden Horn forms a natural and safe harbor that has sheltered and protected Greek, Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman ships for thousands of years. One of the most enjoyable ways to explore the Golden Horn is by taking a ferry boat trip to Eyüp.
Çamlıca Hill is located in Üsküdar, on the Asian side, occupying the tallest of the seven hills in Istanbul. Çamlıca Hill is a favorite picnic area in Istanbul with views overlooking the Bosphorus. Çamlıca Hill is split up into two parts: Büyük (big) and Küçük (small) Çamlıca. Büyük Çamlıca offers the best views, but Küçük Çamlıca is more peaceful as less people visit this area. Many people visit Çamlıca Hill to watch the sunset and to escape from the busy city life of Istanbul. Drinking a cup of tea in one of the tea gardens and restaurants is a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the beauty of this area. 6.4 km from hotel.
Ortaköy Mosque (Ortaköy Camii) is found in the Ortaköy District in Beşiktaş and is one of the most popular locations to visit on the Bosphorus. The actual name of the mosque is the Great Mecidiye Mosque, built by Sultan Abdülmecid in the 19th century. The Mosque is one of the most beautiful examples of Baroque style architecture found in Istanbul. The charming area of Ortaköy is filled with renovated old buildings, restaurants, shops and artist galleries. Waffles, stuffed baked potatoes (kumpir) and hookahs are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. It’s easy to get to Ortaköy. Once you reach the last tram stop at Kabataş, get on a public bus going to Ortaköy and get off right under the Bosphorus Bridge. A trip to Ortaköy is definitely worth a visit. 8.3 km from hotel.
Istanbul is one of the world’s major business conference destinations. The CNR International Expo Center (CNR EXPO) is the biggest international trade fair center of Eurasia. CNR EXPO regularly hosts local and foreign exhibitors and visitors each year. CNR EXPO has been helping companies meet face-to-face with their customers, in their world-class conference facility for over 28 years. CNR EXPO is conveniently located next to Atatürk International Airport. 15.7 km from hotel.