Planning to travel around again after borders have been reopened? Want to go somewhere you can explore the best and come home with beautiful memories? Well, don’t worry I’ve got you! In this article, I will show some of the best tourist spots you can visit in Istanbul in 2022. So, let’s dive into some of the most breathtaking places in Istanbul. You can also visit the Teh Talk website to find out some of the best places to travel.
Istanbul, straddling Europe and Asia, has long been coveted by empires. It is one of the world’s great metropolises. Founded around 1000 BC, the Byzantine colony grew into the great capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, and after the Ottoman conquest of the city, it retained its glorious place as the heart of their empire. The city which is officially renamed Istanbul after the establishment of the Turkish Republic is strewn with glorious relics of its long and illustrious history, and the tourist attractions here will awe even the most monument-weary visitor.
Allow time to explore the other sights in addition to the big four sights which are the Hagia Sophia Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar. Although many of the most popular and best places to visit are in or near Sultanahmet’s old city district, there is a dazzling array of other things to do throughout the city.
Here are the best tourist spots to visit while travelling to Istanbul:
1. Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) Mosque
- According to legend, when Byzantine Emperor Justinian entered his completed church for the first time in CE 536, he cried out “God bless you for judging me worthy of such a task. I have outdone you, Solomon!”
- The Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya in Turkish) was the emperor’s brazen declaration to the world of his empire’s wealth and technological prowess.
- Tradition held that the area within the church surrounding the emperor’s throne was the official centre of the world.
- The Hagia Sophia has remained one of Istanbul’s most cherished landmarks, from its conversion to a mosque after the Ottoman armies conquered Constantinople, to its further conversion into a museum in the twentieth century, and its reconversion back into a working mosque in 2020.
2. Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi)
- This magnificent palace beside the Bosphorus, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century, was where the Ottoman sultans lived and ruled.
- The sprawling complex is a dazzling display of Islamic art, with opulent courtyards lined with intricate hand-painted tilework connecting a labyrinth of sumptuously decorated rooms, all surrounded by battlemented walls and towers.
- The most popular highlights here are the Harem complex (where the sultan’s many concubines and children would spend their days); the Second Court, where you can walk through the vast palace kitchens and marvel at the dazzling interior of the Imperial Council Chamber; and the Third Court, which contained the sultan’s private rooms.
- The Third Court also houses an impressive collection of Prophet Muhammad relics in the Sacred Safekeeping Room, as well as the Imperial Treasury, which welcomes you with a cache of glittering gold objects and precious gems that will make your eyes water.
- To explore the whole palace, you will need half a day to explore it.
3. Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Cami)
- This magnificent mosque, known today as the Blue Mosque, was Sultan Ahmet I’s grand architectural gift to his capital.
- The mosque, which was built between 1609 and 1616, caused a stir throughout the Muslim world when it was finished because it had six minarets (the same number as the Great Mosque of Mecca). To quell the dissent, Mecca was given a seventh minaret.
- The mosque got its name from its interior decoration, which included tens of thousands of Iznik tiles.
- The mosque’s overall spatial and colour effect makes it one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture.
- Come at dusk for added atmosphere as the call to prayer echoes.
4. Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)
- One of Istanbul’s most unexpected tourist attractions is the Basilica Cistern.
- The imperial water supply for the Byzantine emperors was once stored in this massive, palace-like underground hall supported by 336 columns in 12 rows.
- Constantine the Great started the project, but Emperor Justinian finished it in the sixth century.
- Many of the columns used in the construction were repurposed from earlier classical structures and have decorative carvings.
- The most famous of these are the Medusa stones, which are column bases with Medusa head carvings in the northwest corner.
- The columns are beautifully lit, and there is a soft, steady trickle of water all around you, making this a very atmospheric place to visit.
- Septimius Severus started building the ancient Hippodrome in CE 203, and Constantine the Great finished it in CE 330.
- This was the epicentre of Byzantine public life, hosting magnificent games and chariot races as well as factional conflicts.
- Except for a small section of the gallery walls on the southern side, there isn’t much left of the Hippodrome to see today, but the At Meydan (park) that now stands on the site is home to a number of monuments.
- A fountain on the northwest side was presented to the Ottoman Sultan by German Emperor William II in 1898.
6. Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)
- For many visitors, sightseeing in Istanbul is about shopping as much as it is about museums and historical sites, and the Grand Bazaar is where everyone goes.
- This massive covered market is the world’s first shopping mall, occupying an entire city quarter and surrounded by thick walls between the Nuruosmanye and Beyazt Mosques.
- The Beyazt Mosque (built 1498-1505) occupies the site of Theodosius I’s Forum and is inspired by the Hagia Sophia’s architecture.
- The bazaar is entered through one of 11 gates, from which a maze of vaulted-ceiling laneways lined with shops and stalls selling every Turkish souvenir and handicraft imaginable covers the area.
- The various trades are still mostly separated into specific sections, making browsing easier.
7. Dolmabahce Palace
- The sumptuous and ornate Dolmabahçe Palace demonstrates the Ottoman Empire’s 19th-century influence on European decoration and architecture.
- Sultan Abdülmecid I built it in 1854 to replace Topkapi Palace as the sultans’ main residence.
- During the founding years of the Turkish Republic, Dolmabahçe Palace was also used as an official residence, and Atatürk (the founder of modern Turkey) died here in 1938.
- Fountains, ornamental basins, and blooming flower beds dot the formal gardens.