By Justin Mays:
Istanbul is one of the major cities of Turkey, with a population of 15.46 million. One of the major reasons why Istanbul is a favourite destination for tourists is its glorious history, the remnants of which are still present today for all to see and explore.
Istanbul never disappoints its visitors since there is an unending variety of historic structures and ruins for visitors to check out.
So, if you are considering visiting this glorious city of Turkey but wondering “What to do in Istanbul?” we have just the guide for you.
Today’s blog post features many interesting facts about the historical city and must-visit attractions to help you make the most of your trip:
12 Interesting Facts About Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey is the only city that spans two continents, Asia and Europe.
Agatha Christie, a famous English writer, stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, and this is where she also wrote her famed book “Murder on the Orient Express”.
This magnificent city was the capital of the ancient Roman, as well as the Ottoman Empire. However, it is not the capital of Turkey today.
The Grand Bazaar, located in Istanbul, is considered the oldest and the biggest of its kind in the world.
During the Ottoman reign, Istanbul had about 1400 toilets throughout the city; when even the European rulers did not have access to them.
Tulips first originated in Istanbul and were shipped to the Netherlands by the Ottomans.
This metropolitan city has never hosted the Olympics.
You can find most of the historic locations in the Sultanahmet area, which is also considered the Old City.
Further Reading: Properties for Investment in Istanbul
Remarkable Attractions in Istanbul, Turkey
Whether you want to visit Istanbul as a tourist or are thinking of moving to Istanbul, you need to add the following attractions to your list of things while in Istanbul:
Hagia Sophia Mosque
The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque was first built between 532 and 537 as the main Church of the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople (now Istanbul).
It was turned into a mosque in 1453 when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople. In the 20th century, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum and once again, in 2020, it was turned into a mosque.
It is a unique spot to visit because of its extensive history, both as a mosque and a museum, exhibiting these traces in its mosaic paintings and breathtaking architecture. The intricate tile art and aesthetic details on the walls and roof of this beautiful mosque will mesmerize any who visit it.
The Blue Mosque is another major attraction in Istanbul. Also known as the Sultanahmet Mosque, the Blue Mosque displays the splendour of Ottoman architecture with its blue exterior and striking interior.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. Sultan Ahmet I ordered the construction of the Blue Mosque, and so work began to build this striking structure.
The Blue Mosque has six minarets adorning the skyline of Istanbul. The mosque also has an enormous courtyard, which you can enter using multiple entrances. The courtyard also features several buildings, such as a madrasah, soup kitchen, etc.
Further Reading: Istanbul Real Estate | How to Find Your Home
As one of the oldest significant landmarks of Turkey, the Topkapi Palace’s (Topkapi Sarayi) construction was started in 1460 on the orders of Mehmed II and finished in 1478.
The Topkapi Palace is where the Ottoman Sultans resided and reigned over the empire.
There is much to see in this dazzling palace. You can visit this palace to be mesmerized by the exquisite Islamic art and be in awe of the lavishly decorated rooms.
Explore the palace kitchens, get lost in the grandeur of the Imperial Council Chamber, and get a glimpse into the glory of the Ottoman Empire.
Istanbul’s Yedikule, or Fortress of the Seven Towers, was used as a dungeon to hold prisoners of war and the foreign diplomats that angered the Ottoman Sultans.
Yedikule Fortress even housed an Ottoman prince as a prisoner at one point.
Emperor Theodosius II constructed the Yedikule Fortress in the fifth century, and it served as the Golden Gate of Constantinople.
The Ottomans later used it as a treasury and a dungeon for those imprisoned and awaiting their execution.
The Yedikule Fortress now serves as a museum and exhibits many items from the Ottoman era.
Further Reading: The Diversity of Istanbul
Suleymaniye Mosque is an architectural jewel of the renowned architect from the Ottoman time, Mimar Sinan. It is much less famous than the Blue Mosque. Therefore, it doesn’t receive hoards of tourists.
The construction of this mosque was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent. It took seven years and 3500 artisans to complete this beautiful complex.
This mosque also has a courtyard, a caravanserai, bathhouses, etc.
The beautiful dome of the Suleymaniye Mosque is 53 metres high. Moreover, there is a royal cemetery outside this mosque where the tombs of the great Sultan Süleyman and his wife Roxelana (Haseki Hurrem Sultan) lie.
Further Reading: Cheap Properties for Sale in Istanbul
The Galata Tower, constructed by the Genoese, is an incredible spot to visit since it offers an unmatched view of all of Istanbul. It used to be Istanbul’s tallest structure.
Today, the Galata Tower functions as a museum. You can visit the observation deck and enjoy a spectacular city view. It also has a restaurant and hosts exhibitions where you can learn about the tower’s history.
The Spice Bazaar, or Misir Carsisi, is one of the most fascinating spots in Istanbul. The reason it's called Misir Carsisi or Egyptian Bazaar is because it is believed to have been built using the money collected from taxes imposed on Egyptian-manufactured products.
While it can get extremely crowded here, the Spice Bazaar is the best place to get spices since this market has every spice imaginable.
In addition, you can also visit the nearby Yeni Cami (new mosque), built in 1663, and admire the architecture and tile work there.
Historic Uskudar District
The historic district of Uskudar is located on the Asian side of Istanbul. You can reach Uskudar from the European side of Istanbul via a ferry from Eminonu.
The charming coastline and the picturesque neighbourhoods such as Kuzguncuk and Beylerbeyi are worth visiting here. You can also find the Maiden’s Tower in Uskudar, which used to be a watchtower but now holds cafes and restaurants.
There are also many stunning mosques dotted throughout Uskudar, including the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, Ayazma Mosque, etc.
For more information on Uskudar, please read our blog post on Exploring Uskudar’s Seaside Villages.
One of the most notable attractions in Istanbul, Taksim Square, is a tourist favourite for its high-end restaurants, cultural centres, and sophisticated hotels.
Head to Istiklal street, where you can stroll around and shop from the many stores. You can find high-quality traditional items and souvenirs as well.
Make sure to ride the tram and try some Turkish ice cream to complete the experience.
You can also visit the Gezi park near Taksim to enjoy lush greenery and tranquillity.
Is Istanbul a Good Place to Live?
Istanbul is ideal to live in due to the presence of many business opportunities, affordable housing, diverse cultures, extensive real estate options, and highly advanced facilities.
If you are considering buying a home in Istanbul, Turkey, our blog posts on Buy a Villa in Turkey- What You Need to Know and The Dos and Don’ts of Buying a Home in Turkey can help you in the process.
Whether you are looking to buy a home in Istanbul or are interested in purchasing a holiday home in Turkey, connect with Prime Property Turkey today to access the best properties in Turkey and buy the perfect one.
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