Best Things to do in Istanbul
There are great places to visit and very enjoyable things to do in Istanbul. The bellow schedule can be very helpful to make a memorable visit to Sultanahmet Square, Bosphorus and Taksim Square in Istanbul. You will not only visit the historical peninsula but also you will explore the modern part of Istanbul. You will definitely need a very comfortable walking shoes, a bottle of water and a good camera for great photo opportunities.
- First day: Topkapi Palace and its Harem at the very beginning of the day, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Hippodrome.
- Second day: Istanbul Archaeological Museum, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Museum of Great Palace Mosaics, Grand Bazaar and Turkish Bath.
- Third day: Bosphorus Cruise, Taksim Square, Galata Tower, and Spice Market
You can easily spend at least a day or two for exploring Sultanahmet Square and the old city of Istanbul. This will be a very enjoyable but tiring activity since you will be walking one spectacular monument to another. Sultanahmet Square is located in the heart of the old city of Istanbul. The beautiful garden of flowers and picturesque fountain between the Hagia Sophia Museum and Blue Mosque, where is the best location for great photos.
Topkapi Palace is closed for visitors on Tuesdays, visits hours between 09:00 to 16:30. Not long after the conquest of Constantinople, Mehmet II (Fatih – The Conqueror) began the construction of a new palace at Seraglio Point, which became known as Topkapi Saray after a shore palace near the Cannon Gate (Topkapi) of the sea walls. The palace has three great gates and courtyards. You will amaze at the view from the palace gardens, which are facing the Sea of Marmara, Golden Horen, and the Bosphorus at the same time.
Hagia Sophia Museum
The Hagia Sophia has been a museum since 1938. It is closed for visitors on Mondays, visits hours between 09:00 to 18:00 in winter, 19:00 in summer but you need to be there at least two hours before the closing times. The early Byzantine church was built by Theodosius II in 415, which was destroyed during the Nike Revolt during the Justinian’s reign. It was rebuilt and opened in a solemn ceremony on 26 December 537, St. Stephen’S Day.
The Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Camii was constructed in 1619 and is located across the Hagia Sophia in Sultanahmet Square. The highlight of the mosque is the interior decoration, the walls have 21043 blue Iznik tiles that give the blue name to this beautiful monument. It is open all weekdays but closed for prays for 45 minutes. The best time to visit the mosque is either in the morning or in the afternoon when the glimmer of lights illuminate the stain glass windows.
Istanbul possessed a series of large cisterns some were open and others covered in. The latter were either square or rectangular in plan and were roofed over with brick arches and vaults supported on Stone piers, the Yerebatan Sarnici or Basilica Cistern is one of the largest covered cisterns of Istanbul. It is situated nearby of Haghia Sophia. Basilica Cistern was constructed during the reign of Constantine I (306-337), this underground cistern was restored and extended by Justinian (527-565). It is 141ms. in length and 73ms. in width. There are twelve rows of columns supporting the superstructure, each with 28 columns, a total of 336 in all. The columns are 8 meters in height and are surmounted by composite capitals.
This is the largest covered historic market in Istanbul. It was originally built in 1461. It is surrounded by a large number of trading inns, which have Access to the interior of the bazaar, making them a part of it. Each of these deserves separate notice. Today, the covered bazaar contains a mosque, 21 tradings inns, 7 fountains, 1 well, 1 free-standing fountain, and 3300 shops. It possesses a total of 18 portals, eight of these Grand portals, other small Gates. The doors are closed at 7 p.m., and approximately 50 guards patrol throughout the night. Before electricity, the bazaar was lit by huge oil lamps.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum was established in the 19 century and it houses over 45.000 artifacts. Among the museum’s finest exhibits, the Sarcophagus of Alexander is the highlight. Its depiction of Alexander the Great at peace and at war is the finest and worth to see. Once you are in this great museum complex, you should visit the Museum of the Ancient Orient and Tiled Pavilion.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
It is located on the west side of the Hippodrome and it is closed on Mondays, it can be visited between 10:00 to 17:00. The museum’s building is a historic venue and it was a palace of Ibrahim Pasha, who was the grand vizier of the sultan Suleyman the Magnificant. The museum has a great collection of ceramics, miniatures, calligraphy, artifacts of wood and metal, manuscript, kilims, glassware, and folk art.
Museum of Great Palace Mosaics
The mosaic museum is closed on Tuesdays and can be visited between 09:30 to 17:00. The remaining of the former Byzantine imperial palace, a colonnaded courtyard, and mosaics with the depiction of daily life are worth to see in a short visit.
Spice Market is Istanbul’s second covered historical market. The present structure was built a part of the foundation of Yeni mosque in 1660. It is ‘L’ shaped in plan. The present structure was restored in 1943. Apart from six spice shops, the present market has lost its originality.
The market has six Gates and 86 shops. Three of the Gates have porticos, giving the building some visual articulation. The mosque and bazaar were formerly contained within sea walls which were later demolished to make way for a road.