The Best Place in Istanbul; From Byzantine to Ottoman Conquests Heritage

Best Place in Istanbul

Many empires across the centuries and perhaps ever since the era of Prophecies, Istanbul had been coveted because of its beauty and prosperity.

That is why the best place in Istanbul always has acculturation essences inside its artistic appearance. Today, Istanbul is one of the biggest metropolises which is parallel to other prestigious capital cities of ultra-rich countries.

Istanbul was founded around 1000 BC. So, it is definitely not a new capital which was created during colonialism or after certain freedom declaration.

It was originally the colony of Byzantium. The place then grew into the Byzantine Empire’s capital. The history noted that Istanbul was once the capital city of the great Constantinople.

Islam history also carries a precious event when the Ottoman conquest possessed the place.

For a quite long time, the glorious place was the heart of the Empire of Ottoman.

The city was officially renamed Istanbul once the Government announced the Turkish Republic.

However, the city has been a superb capital of empires and passing long and breathtaking history. Visiting Istanbul will be like tracing some ages with different empires’ vivacity.

Tourists will find countless monuments and sightseeing in the city of Istanbul through the Istanbul attractions map.

People will agree that the trip to Istanbul will enrich their knowledge of the world’s history as well as beauty. Artistic places with amazing architecture are there in the city.

People can reach important places only on foot. The city also offers unbelievably tasty delicacies served in unique ways.

Welcome, to Istanbul, the dazzling city that resembles the glorious world’s civilization history.

The Wishlist of the Best Place in Istanbul

There are at least four popular destinations to visit in Istanbul which are all worldwide famous. They are Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and Topkapi Palace.

Yet, the tour will never be completed without other sights. Explore the city and find some unique places which give them many things to remember from their incredible tour in Istanbul.

Let see if the list will be your dream destination. 

1. Aya Sofia

This place is an undeniably most cherished landmark of Istanbul. The building was once a church during the empire of Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

He cried out that that the place was the symbol of grateful feeling for the Glory of God. Even, the king said that the work was better than the creation of Solomon. The place was originally called Hagia Sophia when it was occupied as a church.

It is the tradition of an ancient empire in Europe that a spot around the king’s throne which is located inside a church would be called the center of the universe.

So, based on the belief of the ancient empire of Istanbul, Aya Sofia was part of the center of the world. 

During the Ottoman era, the place was converted into a mosque. The stunning Aya Sofia has passed through a deep and complex history.

People might not be surprised that the place was originally a church and mosque. The Ottoman conquest did not burn or damage the place. Instead, the leader let the church be and add some new ornaments that mirror the glory of Islam.

The beautiful ornaments of Christianity were never erased though the place was occupied as a holy mosque during the Ottoman conquest. Today, such best place in Istanbul is opened for public as a museum.

Visitors will be amazed even before stepping in the main hall of the building.

What can visitors see in Aya Sofia?

  • Superb Architecture and Interior Designs

Because of two religions influences, the ornaments are both unique and stunning at the same time. The place has the splendor of Byzantine and Ottoman through the color choices and decorations.

The building has countless windows and a radiant central dome which is now the main symbol of Istanbul tourism. The diameter of the dome is 32 meters. The main building has a giant circular wooden plaques with beautiful inscriptions.

The names of the first four Caliphs are written on the inscriptions.

To the end of the main hall stands the mihrab which indicates the direction of Moslem’s prayers (Mecca). All of the construction was made of precious classical elements from Greece, Italy, and Asia Minor.

It is surely a great experience to visit a magnificent place made of the finest marbles and the noblest metals.

  • Virgin Mary Mosaic

The mosaic depicts the story of the Virgin Mary and the emperors color the main exit doorway. The mosaic was created around the 11th century.

  • Ottoman Tombs

Visitors can also visit five Sultans tombs outside the main exit of the building.

  • Weeping Column

Similarly to other beautiful monuments in the entire world, there is always a myth inside a stunning piece of artwork. In Aya Sofia, tourists will find a weeping column. It is a column that is believed to give a miracle.

2. Topkapı Palace (Topkapı Sarayı) 

It is hard to find no palace in a glorious empire or even Ottoman conquests. Topkapı Palace thus stands there to be the center of the Ottoman Empire.

The palace was first built by Mehmet in the 15th century.

Today, the palace is the museum complex for various Islamic artworks and many other precious historical artifacts. We can easily reach the place with the guides offered by the Istanbul tourist information.

The palace is a vast area of the spectacular building with Islamic ornaments. The courtyards are lined with unique hand-painted tile-work. 

What are the most popular highlights of the palace?

Tourists will regard it as the best place in Istanbul for the stunning history which is mirrored by the beauty of the architecture. The first and most interesting 

  • Harem

The place where a group of concubines and children lived. There are still controversies about this since Islam does not allow men to marry more than four women. Besides, the practice of slavery was erased little by little during the Prophet era and the Caliphs as well. Sometimes, historians shared different statements because there was not enough evidence to reveal the true conditions of a certain empire. So, the statements can be a mere opinion rather than facts. Yet, it will be still beautiful to see the Harem with the beautiful architecture. 

  • Second Court; A vast area of beautiful garden and palace gate 
  • Palace Kitchens; The beautiful kitchen with dazzling interior design.

          a. Imperial Council Chamber
          b. Third Court
          c. Sacred Safekeeping Room
          d. Imperial Treasury

All of the sections who beautiful architecture with the glorious design. The objects and artifacts are all amazing as well. Plus, visitors can see the beautiful scenery of Bosphoros harbor from the best viewpoint.

The Ottoman conquests were truly a rich era of ancient Istanbul. 

3. Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) 

The mosque was a gift to the capital presented by Sultan Ahmet. The mosque is called the Blue Mosque for a reason.

The interior is decorated with thousands of Iznik tiles with blue color. The entire hues of the mosque appear wonderfully with its blue tone. Even the color choice shows that the mosque is a grand gift from the past to the current world. The mosque was built from 1609 to 1616.

When the mosque was finished, the Muslim world celebrated as a huge achievement. The design of the Blue Mosque is incredible. It had 6 minarets; similar to that of the Great Mosque ofMecca.

It will be a joyful experience to visit the Blue Mosque. And it is so much comfortable to visit it since it is located by the Aya Sofya.

Between the two beautiful landmarks, tourists will find beautiful gardens. The ambiance of the tourist’s destination is somewhat sacred. As the dusk comes, the call to dusk prayer echoes out from the blue mosque minaret.

The atmosphere will be so much heartwarming.

Behind the Blue Mosque, we can find Arasta Bazaar. Visiting the place will worth the time since tourists can directly go to the bazaar for souvenirs.

The handicrafts are all high-quality. After that, visitors can head to the Great Palace Mosaic Museum. Despite the small size, the museum offers a unique experience of learning the culture of Istanbul. The place was unearthed in the 1950s, revealing the hidden artwork of ancient Istanbul.

The Blue most is definitely the best place in Istanbul because of the beauty and the strategic location to other attractions.

4. Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıçı)

This perhaps the most unique attraction of Istanbul. It is a subterranean structure which was commissioned by the Emperor Justinian.

It was constructed around 532. It is fabulous to see the largest surviving Byzantine cistern in the capital. Ancient Turkey might possess many of the same structures but the Basilica Cistern is surely the biggest.

The cistern has 336 columns. The unique thing is that many of the columns were constructed from ruined of temples. The place was finely carved and has a superb symmetry. 

The place owns a grandeur concept which is breathtaking. And like of most sites and heritage architecture of the world, the cistern reflects a good government with a deep concern of serving comfort and hygiene for the Empire as well as the people in the past.

The cistern was designed to supply up to 80,000 meters of water to the Great Palace and the surrounding building. The aqueducts built by a huge reservoir around the Black Sea is 20 kilometers away.

However, the system was forgotten by the city until a scholar Petrus Gyllius rediscovered it in 1545.

The Ottoman did not pay much attention and did not do a good maintenance for the cistern. The authority did not even give a good respect for the amazing place. The area was once a dumping ground.

People buried corpses around the place. There was no clear explanation about it. However, it might due to the belief of Islam for forbidding Moslems to worship any other thing except God Almighty.

Some assumed that Ottoman conquests believe that the place was once an underground palace for worshipping something. Not until 1985, when the cistern was massively cleaned.

The government renovated the area and now it is one of the most unique attractions in Istanbul.

The cistern looks somewhat stunning with the classical structures all over the place. The columns have special carving showing some Medusa head carvings. This attraction is one of the fanciest historical places in Istanbul.

5. Hippodrome 

Hippodrome was originally a center of Byzantine public life. The place used to be a location for playing games and many other enjoyments. The ancient Hippodrome was built in more than a hundred years.

It was started by Septimius Severus in AD 203 and was completed by Constantine in AD 330. There is not much left of the construction to see. The massive damages of the structures were not restored or perhaps too hard to renovate.

However, we can now enjoy the site with a new park called At Meydani. The park is a center of various precious artifacts and monuments.

With the precious collections around the place, this can be the best place in Istanbul.

What to see in Hippodrome:

  • A classic fountain presented to the Ottoman. The fountain was a present from GEmperoreperor William II in 1898.
  • Egyptian Obelisk from Heliopolis. It is a monument with 20 meter high.
  • Serpent Column which was brought to Istanbul from Delphi.
  • Stone Obelisk

6. Istanbul Archaeology Museum

The museum is located close to the Topkapı Palace. The crucial museum displays a vast array of artifacts taken from Turkey history and Middle East countries as well. The place was divided into three sections.

Each of the places mirror the history of this region. People will feel amazed to visit all because of the collections.

The first stop is the Museum of the Ancient Orient. The next complex is the Archaeology Museum which exhibits the selections from ancient Byzantine as well as the Ottoman conquests era.

The last complex is the Tiled Pavilion of Mehmet the Conquerer. The museum does not only exhibit the artifacts and precious historic stuff but also abundant collections of ceramic art.

We can easily conclude a glorious past of Istanbul only by visiting this museum. Therefore, it will be the best place of Istanbul for history nerds. 

7. Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) 

It is always important to visit a shopping center, a market, or a souq when traveling to any city.

Most of the time, the places for shopping resemble the most beautiful culture in the real society.

People can interact with the locals in the most comfortable ways as they visit the shops. Besides, it will be great to see the stunning selections of crafts as well as the locals products at the market. In Istanbul, people can go to Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar receives as much visitors as other city landmarks.

Surprisingly, the market was the world’s first shopping mall. Visiting the place will be a great experience for just every tourist.

Whether tourists want to buy exotic crafts or just want to see the colorful products, the Grand Bazaar is just the flawless place.

The bazaar was surrounded by thick walls and located right in the city quarter. The place is not called Grand Bazaar for nothing. The market is in a complex with 61 covered streets.

There are 4000 shops selling the stunning selections of handicrafts, souvernirs, art works, and many other stuff. We can find pottery, jewelry, carpets, colored glass lamps, and spices at this market.

The price ranges from the cheapest to the most expensive. The place receives at least 250.000 visitors daily and in 2014, the market was the most visited tourist attraction with more than 90 million annual visitors.

So, there is no reason for istanbul tourists to skip the Grand Bazaar. This place is the best place in Istanbul where tourists can enjoy shopping while getting pleasure in the ambiance of traditional bazaar.

8. Süleymaniye Mosque

Istanbul tourist guide will show this mosque as the second option after the Blue Mosque. Süleymaniye Mosque however, is as beautiful as the top choice. The mosque is located on the hill and looks so much gorgeous.

The mosque was built between 1549 and 1575 by a famous architect of Ottoman era, Sinan. Similarly to other mosque from Ottoman conquests, the mosque grande design is dominated by 53 meter high dome.

The dome is especially stunning for its harmonious proportions in shape and colors. Besides, the mosques gains fame because of the unity concept integrated in the main design.

The mosque might not be the only interesting mosque in Istanbul. However, it can be the best place in Istanbul because of the tombs of the Ottoman king.

This mosque has an honorable place in the heart of Turkish people because the place is where the Sultan Suleyman and his wife Haseki Hurrem Sultan were rest. Sultan Suleyman was a great leader in the Ottoman conquest era in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Haseki Hurrem Sultan was a legendary woman who sits by the Sultan in controvery. She is known as Roxelana in the west.

Visitors will be able to visit the Ottoman cemetery after enjoying the architecture of the mosque.

9. Places to Visit in Istanbul at Night 

There are a series of itineraries to include for spending a fabulous night in Istanbul. People can spend their time for shopping in the Grand Bazaar from daylight to nighttimes.

Besides, tourists can take the Bosphorus cruise with luxurious dinner and belly dance show. The glamorous Istanbul will feel so real inside the cruise. In addition,  it will be great to see the different sides of Istanbul from the cruise.

Tourists have to book a ticket before taking the cruise.  

At Sultan Ahmet mosque, tourists will get overwhelmed with the view and architecture.

If you feel that enjoying the mosque during the day is not enough, you need to go there in the evening.

The place offers a spectacular show of lighting show. The illuminated park will be the best venue for creamy ice cream time. The scene will be so emotional since the park is located between the Aya Sofia (Hagia Sophia) and the Blue Mosque.

A visit to Istanbul will never be a perfect experience without trying the Turkish bath at night. The place is called hamam. Tourists can enjoy an ordinary bath at their hotel.

However, the revelatory experience is something that you should never skip. The place will be a super comfortable sauna like a room with unique bath services.

While in the hamam, tourists can learn the ancient tradition of Istanbul. The famous place for this is the Cagaloglu Hamami. Talking about activities at nightimes, you will want to have a lavish dinner while spending a fun night.

You can try Meze by Lemon Tree to have a fantastic cuisine of Istanbul. 

10. Festivals

Besides the city tour and the cultural trip, Istanbul offers various festivals. In this November, Istanbul held Akbank Jazz festival. It was in the early November.

Tourists will fall in love with the atmosphere of the city and the music in Akbank Jazz festival. Besides, there are also bookfair and other festivals to visit. 

We cannot leave for Istanbul just anytime. We have to arrange the schedule and pick the right time to go there. Istanbul experiences hot summers and cold winters. This is due to the location which is part of European.

It is recommended for tourists to take a trip to Istanbul during spring and autumn.

April to May and September to November will be the best time to visit the capital. The weather will be so comfortable during those months.

The best places in Istanbul will never fail to give tourists a great memory of Istanbul day and night tour.

Istanbul is a unique capital city with a remarkable history. That is why the heritage sites and the historical monuments are varied and rich of stories.

From Hagia Sophia to the street food festival at nights, Istanbul will be the city of the dream which deserves loves from the tourists.