The monuments in Istanbul not to be missed! All Tours to Turkey has gathered for you 7 incredible monuments retracing the history of Istanbul and Constantinople, from the Roman Empire to the Ottoman Empire, stopping at the Byzantine Empire. 7 monuments of different religions from different eras.
1 – Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia (or “Hagia Sofia” meaning “divine wisdom” in Greek) is Istanbul’s flagship monument and a faithful representation of Byzantine architecture. It was built by Emperor Justinian in 532, after 5 years and 10 months of construction and 10,000 artists having put their hands together. Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, the Basilica was a sacred place for the ceremonies of the Empire, the coronation of rulers for 916 years. For 482 years, it will serve as a mosque and then today, that is to say for 80 years, it is open to the public as a museum.
2 – The Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is an ancient underground cistern used to bring water to Istanbul. It is located near the Hagia Sophia and is considered the best preserved and complex of Istanbul’s 60 cisterns, which makes it an exceptional place. Its architecture resembles that of a basilica, hence the name. It dates from the 6th century and was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, along with the Hagia Sophia. It was originally designed to store water for the summer and the city sieges, which could hold up to 78,000 m3 of water.
3 – The Blue Mosque
Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, located in the old city center of Sultan Ahmet, faces the Hagia Sophia. The Blue Mosque is a monument not to be missed during your visit to Istanbul. Sultan Ahmet Mosque is the second largest mosque in Istanbul which was built by Sultan Ahmet I to appease the wrath of God after a defeat in the Persian War. The start of its construction began in 1609 and ended in 1616, the architect being Sedefhar Mehmet Aga, assistant to the famous architect Mimar Sinan. Today we find the 8 archive volumes of the construction of the Blue Mosque at Topkapi Palace.
4 – Saint-Saveur-in-Chora church
Saint-Sauveur-in-Chora is a Byzantine church located in Edirnekapi, not far from the Eyup district, in the historic center of Fatih. The church was called “Chora” because that name meant “in the countryside”. Indeed, the church was built outside the city walls of Constantinople in the 4th century. During Ottoman times, the church was transformed into a mosque and it was then called “Kariye”, which came from the Greek and always meant “in the countryside”. The frescoes and mosaics were then covered with plaster because faces are prohibited in Islam. The mosque has been transformed into a museum since 1945, with very well preserved biblical scenes from the use of plaster.
5 – Topkapi Palace
Former residence of the Sultans, the Topkapi Palace was built in 1459 on the ancient acropolis of Byzantium and covers 700,000 m². Topkapi Palace is located in the historic city center of Fatih, not far from the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, which offers it a breathtaking panorama.
6 – Suleymaniye Mosque
Suleymaniye Mosque is not very touristy, yet it is the perfect example of Ottoman style and the centerpiece of Mimar Sinan architecture. It is less visited than the Blue Mosque, which makes it all the more authentic.
Its location in the Suleymaniye district offers stunning views of the Golden Horn.
7 – The Dolmabahce Palace
The Dolmabahce Palace, the former residence of the Sultans, is located in the trendy district of Besiktas, on the European side of Istanbul. It sports rococo, baroque and neoclassical styles, juggling between West and East, modern and ancient. The Dolmabahce Palace also boasts of having the largest collection of crystal chandeliers in the world, in addition to being the largest Palace in Turkey with a monoblock area of 15,000 m².
Enjoy your visit to the monuments in Istanbul!