Gülhane Park – This lovely patch of green is the oldest and one of the largest public parks in the city, and was once part of the outer gardens of the Topkapi. Its elegant tree canopies and Roman relics make it a beautiful spot for a picnic or just a promenade on a sunny day.
Galata Tower – Winding one’s way down the cobblestone street down from Taksim Square in Beyoglu, the impressive Galata Tower is a sight to behold. Built in the 14th century by the Genoese colonizers, today it offers a breathtaking panorama over the city. The terrace is easily accessible by elevator, and one can enjoy a strong cup of Turkish coffee with the view.
Chora Church – The restored Chora Church, inside the old fifth-century city walls of Constantinople, offers a stunning glimpse of late Byzantine splendour. This unheralded museum is an artistic treasure trove, its walls and ceilings are adorned with glittering mosaics and breathtaking frescoes. Formerly a Byzantine church, then an Ottoman mosque turned modern museum, it sits quietly among restored Ottoman wooden houses.
Süleymaniye Mosque – Designed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan for Suleiman the Magnificent, this stunning landmark dominates the city skyline. It has recently been restored to its original splendour and is considered the finest of the 42 surviving mosques he designed for Istanbul.
Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque – The early 17th-century Blue Mosque is one of only a handful of mosques in the world to boast six minarets, along with its main dome and eight secondary domes. It is distinguished by the fine cerulean İznik tiles that line its interior. It is also famous as the tomb of the great Sultan Ahmed I, the leader who lent his name to the mosque and the surrounding neighbourhood.
Topkapi Palace – If there is one absolute must-see in Istanbul, it has to be the Topkapi Palace, which housed generations of Ottoman sultans. A maze of lush green courtyards, opulent architecture and delicate kiosks, the Topkapi boasts a treasury of crown jewels as well as exquisite views over the Sea of Marmara, Bosphorus and Golden Horn.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum – This fascinating museum is housed in what was the home of Ibrahim Pasha, a favored grand vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent, and includes a magnificent collection of gigantic carpets from all over the country. Its basement features reconstructions of all arts Turkish – a great way to while away a rainy afternoon.
Istanbul Archaeology Museums – Highlights include the glorious sarcophagus of Alexander, which depicts scenes from the life of Alexander the Great in vivid detail; the lovely Tiled Pavilion, one of the city’s oldest Ottoman structures, beautifully restored to show off its finest ceramics; and a peace treaty from 1269 BC – to name but a few.
Hagia Sophia – Its vaunted halls have hosted the Eastern Orthodox cathedral, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, a Roman Catholic Cathedral and a mosque. Built in 360 C.E., this landmark of architecture blends the influences of Eastern and Western civilizations. The magnificent mosaics that adorn its interior vary from religious imagery to geometric ornaments to portraits of royalty.
Basilica Cistern – One of the city’s most unusual and interesting visits. Constructed in the sixth century and then forgotten for centuries, the cistern once was part of a massive and complex water storage and transportation system. Full of quirky sights, such as an upside-down head of Medusa that was obviously little more than useful Roman garbage to the cistern’s architects just a few centuries later.
Don’t miss out on the best of Istanbul! Book your stay at the Hotel Büyük Keban today and visit these top 10 attractions with your family and friends.