Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul: throughout its thousands of years of storied history, Istanbul has been a place of many faces and many names. Yet, its identity has remained unique, never ceasing to enchant and fascinate visitors with its complex heritage, rich culture, and never-ending sights to visit.
Today Istanbul stands alone as the only modern-day thriving metropolis that has been capital of four different world empires. It continues to surprise visitors with its cuisine, cosmopolitanism, and culture. For your upcoming trip to our amazing city, we at Hotel Büyük Keban suggest the five absolute must-see attractions:
Süleymaniye Mosque – One of Istanbul’s most arresting sights, the Süleymaniye dominates the city skyline. It was designed by the great Ottoman-era architect Sinan for Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. It has recently been restored to its original splendor and is considered the finest of the 42 surviving mosques he designed for Istanbul.
Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque – This magnificent, early 17th-century mosque is one of only a very few in the world to boast six minarets, along with its main dome and eight secondary domes. Its fine craftsmanship is further distinguished by the fine cerulean İznik tiles that line its interior, for which it has gained its nickname of “The Blue Mosque”. 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 – Classic movie fans swooned over the mystery, intrigue, and dazzling treasures that took center stage in the 1964 Jules Dassin classic Topkapi, starring screen legends Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, and Maximilian Schell. Yet, even if you’ve seen the film, if there is one absolute must-see in Istanbul, it has to be the Topkapi. It housed generations of Ottoman sultans and was the envy of foreign leaders from Peking to Paris. 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.
Hagia Sophia – Widely considered to be the structure that changed the course of European architecture, this building has functioned as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, a Roman Catholic Cathedral and a mosque. Built in 360 C.E., the Hagia Sophia is a visually exquisite landmark that blends the influences of Eastern and Western civilizations, reflecting Istanbul’s unique geographical location and, more generally, its mixed cultural heritage. The magnificent mosaics that adorn its interior vary from religious imagery to geometric ornaments to portraits of royalty.
Basilica Cistern – Abandoned and forgotten for centuries after having been constructed in the sixth century, this underground marvel is one of the city’s most unusual and interesting sites – and well worth a visit. It once was part of a massive and complex water storage and transportation system, and today is a subterranean trove of oddities, such as an upside-down head of Medusa foraged by architects who built the cistern just a few centuries later.
And these are just a few of the marvelous places waiting to be discovered here. Contact us today to book a convenient, affordable, and cozy room at the Hotel Büyük Keban and let your Istanbul adventure begin!