Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, which separates Europe and Asia between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its historic sites lie on the European side and the land was once conquered by the Roman, Byzantine, the Latin and Ottoman Empire.

It is Turkey’s biggest city and is served as the main cultural and commercial center. Come to visit and uncover the best highlight of historic and cultural attractions which dated back many centuries ago under the rule of different empires.

Below are the list of places and things you should put on your travel bucket list.

Be amazed by the Blue Mosque

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque is a must visit tourist sites in Istanbul. It was built between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I and still function as a place of worship. Inside contains Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah, and a hospice.

You can enter the mosque to view the stunning interior of the building. The most eye-catching part of its inferior of the building is the ceiling of the dome. The walls are painted colorfully with motifs and the windows were built around the corners of the dome that allows the light to shine into the prayer hall. The architectural style is truly impressive

The Blue Mosque has six pencil-shaped minarets. Four of them have three balconies while the other two only have two balconies. The best place to view them is outside the mosque’s garden and you can also see the design of the mosque’s exterior.

Travel tips: Shoes must be removed before entering the mosque and a plastic bag will be provided to keep them inside your backpack. It is important to wear modesty and women are required to wear a headscarf during visitation.

Explore Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is just a short walk from the Blue Mosque. This mosque was built in 537 AD under the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I serve as a church until 1453. During the Ottoman rule in 1453, it was converted into a mosque and the four minarets were added during the Ottoman occupation.

The Garden

These exhibit halls display many old artifacts and costumes that were used by the Ottoman Empire.

The Wishing Column

The wishing column can be found northwest of the building with a hole in the middle covered by bronze plates. According to legend, it is said to be moist when touched and has supernatural powers to cure many illnesses.

Obelisk of Theodosius

Located near the Blue Mosque, this obelisk belongs to an Ancient Egyptian of Pharaoh Thutmose III re-erected here by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in the 4th century. It is made of red granite from Aswan with marble pedestal. Its original height was 30 meters tall but was damaged probably during its transport or re-erection.

Crossing Bosphorus Bridge

Bosphorus Bridge is one of the three bridges in Istanbul that links Ortaköy in Europe with Beylerbeyl in Asia. An estimated of 180,000 vehicles pass this gravity-anchored suspension bridge daily.

There are people who walk along the bridge selling Turkish bread, mineral water, or Turkish sweets to car passengers as the vehicles slowly move across both sides of the Bosphorus Bridge.

Dolmabahce Palace

We take the river cruise to view it along Bosphorus Strait to view Dolmabahce Palace. It was once home to six Sultans from 1856 to 1924, served as the main administrative center during Ottoman rule.

The palace was originally used as a bay for the anchorage of the Ottoman fleet. The 31st Sultan, Abdulmecid I build the palace to replace the Topkapi Palace due to the lack of contemporary style, luxury, and comfort compared to other palaces of European monarchs.

Wander around Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world that dates back to the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. It consists of 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops that sells a variety of spices, food, Turkish coffee, leather goods, leather and casual clothes, souvenirs, textiles, carpets, second-handed books, furniture and jewelry.

Watch Turkish Folk Dance

A great way to spend the night is to dine in at one of the local restaurants that offer Turkish Folk dance.

Planning A Trip to Turkey

If you are planning to visit other parts of Turkey and get some travel tips during your visit in winter, you can check out some of my posts:

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