Because of its location, which lies between west and east, Istanbul is one of the richest cities in terms of culture. In addition to the incredible mix of traditions, the place has lovely landscapes and interesting sights. Those who enjoy architecture and history will love getting to know the city, mainly because of the Byzantine architecture and monuments.
To help anyone preparing a tour of the city, I made this list with some of the main tours around the city. If you have a few days there, make a selection of the main sights and choose the ones that suit you best ?
To get to know the Blue Mosque, you will need to follow some rules that are also valid for other mosques. Women should cover their hair with a handkerchief and must not have their shoulders bare, nor with a skirt and short shorts. In the case of men, the shoulder and shorts rule is also valid.
The Blue Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616, so it is a super old and historic place. Both the exterior and interior of the mosque are beautiful. Inside, the walls and ceiling are detailed and with stained glass windows that allow natural light to enter the room. In front of the mosque is a wonderful garden – a great space for taking pictures!
Right in front of the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sophia, which is one of the most visited places in the city. Like almost all of Istanbul’s ancient buildings, it is huge and full of details on the inside, like over-worked mosaics from the Byzantine period.
Another fact that attracts several tourists to the place is the possibility to place an order. Inside the place there is a wall with a small hole, where people put their finger and ask to do something they want. If that desire happens, the person should return to the place as a thank you. This is just a legend, but it costs nothing to try, right?
Topkapı Palace is one of the main symbols of the Ottoman Empire, built in 1465. It is even difficult to imagine how such an old building remains preserved today. The space is full of huge halls, decorated with lots of gold and stained glass and designed tiles.
Having turned into a museum, you will find several relics of Islamic art on the site. The patios and gardens are also charming and super flowery. Anyone who enjoys this mix between landscaping and ancient architecture cannot leave Topkapı Palace out of the script. I was enchanted by this place and could spend a whole day in it, getting to know every corner.
The Basílica Cistern was built to function as a water reservoir for the city. However, it has been deactivated and is currently open for visitation. The atmosphere is very dark and looks like an underground palace, full of columns and decorative sculptures, like a Medusa head. It is a very different tour than the others you will take in the city, so I believe it is worth taking a stroll through the place!
Paulo and I didn’t have time to visit the Süleymaniye Mosque, but it is considered one of the most impressive in the city. Its structure is incredible, with a huge dome in the center and smaller ones around.
Like the other mosques, it is rich in details in stained glass and tiles, reaching as beautiful as the Blue Mosque. Although the place receives tourists, there are still prayers there. You will have to wait for the end of each prayer, or have a look at service times before going to the place.
The Ortaöy Mosque was certainly one of my favorite places on the trip. The environment is all lit up and it feels like peace, you know? All the decoration of the space left me in love. Because it is not such a touristic place, there was a lot of movement of residents, mainly Muslims. Take the opportunity to walk around the region – the neighborhood is cute and with several cafes, restaurants and shops.
Anyone who loves panoramic views of the city cannot fail to go to the Galata Tower. Admission is paid and costs around 25 Turkish lire. As it is a very famous spot in the city, the lines are long and the waiting time can be discouraging.
My tip is that you go to the place early, so enjoy the ride without wasting a lot of time and end up having a few hours to get to know the area. There is a restaurant inside the tower itself, but it is very expensive and turkish. As the region is very busy, you will soon find good places to stop.
The Dolmabahce Palace is so grand and luxurious that it is even compared to the Palace of Versailles. His architecture is wonderful and the interior has lots of gold, crystal chandeliers and other sophisticated and wonderful decor items.
Book at least half your day to get to know the whole complex, because it has 43 lounges and more than 250 rooms – in addition to the well-kept gardens. If you want to know more about visiting the palace, just click here.
Istanbul is a stunning city and the sights made me even more enchanted with the place. Paulo and I share more of our experience there in the vlogs that are on the channel. Be sure to watch to see better what I told you here ?