If you’re visiting Istanbul during the holiday season, chances are that you’ve paid top dollar for flights and accommodation given the peak season. With long lines to visit the city’s best attractions, it’s necessary to narrow down a short list of sites to visit ahead of time in order to make the most of your stay.
The largest mosque in Istanbul was built by the very talented Ottoman-era architect, Mimar Sinan, for Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Süleymaniye was recently restored to its original splendor and still holds the top spot out of the 42 mosques Sinan built in the city of Istanbul.
Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque
The unique cerulean İznik tiles that line the interior have earned this mosque’s “blue” title. The Blue Mosque is also the resting place of Sultan Ahmen I, the great leader that the Sultanahmet was proudly named after. It features six minarets and a main dome with eight secondary domes.
The seat of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, Topkapi Palace housed generations of sultans and is home to magnificent views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It boasts a maze of lush green courtyards, mesmerizing architecture, delicate kiosks and treasury of crown jewels.
Known as the building that changed the course of European architecture, Hagia Sophia once functioned as a cathedral and mosque, and today functions as a museum. Its unique geographical location and blending of Eastern and Western influences makes it a must-see during your holiday in Istanbul.
Abandoned and forgotten for centuries, and once a part of a massive and complex water storage and transportation system, Basilica Cistern was recently renovated and is playground for the quirky at heart. An up-side down head of Medusa (and other oddities!) is what makes this place one of a kind.
Genoese colonizers built the Galata Tower in the fourteen century in Beyoglu. Boasting a breathtaking panorama of the city, its terrace is easily accessible by elevator. Why not enjoy the stunning view and relax this festive season with a hot cup of Turkish coffee?
Once a Byzantine church and Ottoman mosque, Chora Church was restored and today serves as a modern day museum in Constantinople. Ornamented with dazzling mosaics and spectacular frescoes, the walls and ceiling make this an artistic treasure trove and exquisite example of late Byzantine architecture.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Perfect for a raining afternoon, this museum is located in the home of Ibrahim pasha, a favored grand vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent. Inside visitors will find a grand selection of large carpets which have traveled cross country, and a basement featuring reconstructions of great Turkish arts.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
Alexander’s glorious sarcophagus depicting scenes from the life of Alexander the great in vivid detail, one of Istanbul’s most ancient Ottoman structures known as the Tiled Pavilion, and a peace treaty from 1269BC are just a few of the marvels visitors can find here.
Ideal spot for a picnic on a sunny day, this park is one of the largest patches of green in the city. Once part of the outer gardens of the Topkapi, its graceful tree canopies and Roman relics make it an attraction for tourists and locals alike.
Hotel Büyük Keban is located just a few miles away from many of the places listed above. Contact us today to book your stay this holiday season!