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Places to visit in Istanbul
Owned by empires for centuries, Istanbul straddles Europe and Asia, and is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Founded around 1000 BC, the colony of Byzantium grew into the great capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, and maintained its illustrious position as the center of the empire after the Ottoman conquest of the city.
Its old town shows the cultural influence of the many emperors who ruled here in the past. After the founding of the Turkish Republic, the city was officially renamed Istanbul. Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, and Palace are some of the top attractions that all tourists visit. Be amazed by the city's charming landscapes and sights. The city is world-famous for its culture, history, breathtaking landscapes, and beautiful monuments. Well, Istanbul sounds pretty impressive. Interested in finding the best places to visit in Istanbul?
Hagia Sophia is a large mosque and former church. A perfect antique piece for worship in Istanbul. During the time of the Byzantine emperors, it served as a religious, political, and artistic center. After Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453, it became an important place of worship for Muslims. He then turned the place into a mosque. The dome is one of the symbols of the city. Buying tickets online helps you avoid long lines at the entrance. You can also combine Hagia Sophia with other tours. There are 4 tour guides stationed at the entrance so that you can choose your favorite time.
The sprawling complex is a dazzling display of Islamic art, with gorgeous courtyards lined with intricate hand-painted tiles that connect warrens of richly decorated rooms surrounded by battlements and turrets. Among the many highlights here, the most popular is the Harem Complex, where many of the Sultan's concubines and children spent their days. The Second Court where you can walk through the vast palace kitchens and be awed by the stunning interior of the Imperial Council and his third courtyard containing the Sultan's boudoir. In the third courtyard, an impressive collection of Prophet Muhammad's relics are displayed in vaults, and the emperor's treasury welcomes you with glittering gold objects and stashes of precious jewels.
The Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is the largest one in the city of Istanbul, built under the Stoic Basilica. With hundreds of ornate pillars, it is a stunning piece of architecture. Today the reservoir contains only a few meters of water and a platform has been built above it to view it. Built by Justinian in 532, this is the largest surviving cistern in the city. Built to supply water to the Royal Palace and its surrounding complex, it was capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water. What's amazing about this cistern is the precision that went into its construction. There are a total of 336 marble pillars carved with various symbols, each of which is exactly 4.9 meters apart and arranged in 12 rows and 28 columns. Today, the aquarium has only a few meters of water, and a platform has been built above it for people to visit.
Another interesting feature here is that the two pillars have bases depicting Medusa's head. Located in the northwest corner, it is widely believed to have been brought here from a Roman building and placed upside down to reduce the effect of Medusa's murderous gaze. After several restorations, mostly related to cleaning, it was opened to the public in 1987 and quickly became one of Istanbul's main attractions.
The Grand Bazaar
For many visitors, sightseeing in Istanbul is as much about shopping as it is about museums and historic buildings, and the Grand Bazaar is a destination for everyone. This gigantic covered market is the world's first shopping mall, occupying the entire thick-walled district between the Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit mosques. The entrance to the bazaar is one of 11 gates. From there, a maze of vaulted alleyways lined with shops and stalls selling every conceivable Turkish souvenir and handicraft covers the area. Various deals are still grouped into specific categories for easier browsing. Near the Divanyolu Caddesi entrance in the bazaar is a burnt pillar. Still, 40 meters high, this porphyry column stump was erected at the Forum by Constantine the Great. Until 1105 there was a bronze statue of Constantine.
Princes Islands, a group of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara, are popular destinations for tourists and locals to escape the busy city life. Fragrant tangerines, lemon trees, pink magnolias, and stunning wooden villas dot the landscape. Long ago, an empress and a prince were exiled here, so it became known as Prince's Island. Whether you want to experience tranquility and sunshine or swim in the sea, Oji Island is the destination.
One of Istanbul's most popular attractions, the Spice Bazaar gets very crowded at certain times of the day with huge tour groups from cruise ships docked. Please arrive before 11 am or after 4 pm to avoid crowds. Right next to the Spice Bazaar's main entrance is the stately Yeni Jami (New Mosque), whose construction began in 1615 and was completed in 1663. This is "new" to Istanbul. The inside of the building is gorgeously decorated with plenty of tiles and gold leaf, so it's worth taking a look while strolling around.
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is a historic mosque with a beautifully curved façade and six slender minarets. It got its nickname from the blue Iznik tiles that decorate the interior of the mosque. Considered one of the most popular places in Istanbul, it attracts countless tourists due to its breathtaking beauty. A must-see for all travelers, this iconic attraction allows visitors to immerse themselves in Islamic Ottoman culture and traditions.
Emirgan Park is one of the largest and most beautiful parks in Istanbul, covering an area of about 47.2 hectares. Tulip fields cascade down the park's winding slopes and trails. In spring, 11 million tulips bloom, creating a wonderland. There is a 17-acre park that includes two ornamental ponds that are home to over 120 species of plants. The park is full of flowers and groves and is crisscrossed by rambling paths, making it one of Istanbul's best spring destinations.
Istanbul has a mild climate all year round. Mid-July to mid-August is generally hot and humid, with occasional snow in January and February. Peak season (best weather) is mid-April to June and September to October. Low season is generally good value, less crowded, has better weather, and all attractions open. Weather conditions can change throughout the day, especially in spring and autumn, but extreme cases are rare. Summer temperatures are generally 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (42 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in winter). Temperatures below freezing and above 90 degrees make headlines. Prices in Istanbul are higher during festivals and holidays such as Easter, Christmas, and New Year. On public holidays, many Europeans, especially from Spain, Italy, and France go on vacation to Istanbul, so plan your vacation accordingly.
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