10 witnesses to the history of Istanbul, built in different periods: 10 monuments that create the exceptional beauty of Istanbul. Here is the list of top 10 sights in Istanbul.
From the Roman Empire through Byzantium to the Ottoman Empire, 10 Christian and Muslim places that have lived together for centuries in Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia – Top 10 sights in Istanbul
The first of the top 10 sights in Istanbul list is Hagia Sophia, today a museum, with 1480 years of history to tell. Hagia Sophia is a true jewel of Byzantine architecture, built in 532 during the reign of the Emperor Justinian.
The physicist Isidore de Millet and the mathematician Anthémius de TRALLES carried out the seat of the Orthodox patriarch.
This impressive creation comes to life in just 5 years and 10 months, produced by 10,000 artist-workers who by their talent have raised from the ground a gigantic monument of 7,540 m2, the creation always coming from the influence elsewhere, this fabulous building was inspired by the pantheon of Rome and primitive western art. Hagia Sophia will be the main reception for imperial ceremonies, the coronation of emperors.
On December 27, 537 the divine child Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was born. Hagia Sophia means in Greek divine wisdom.
During 916 years, the beautiful Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was dressed in the church costume, then for 482 years she will be a mosque and finally for 80 years the museum dress is worn by the beautiful, deploying all its assets to conquer the hearts of visitors.
Chora Museum – Top 10 sights in Istanbul
The second of the top 10 sights in Istanbul list is Chora Museum in Istanbul is a jewel of Byzantine art which has preserved a monumental collection of Christian mosaics and frescoes. One of the most beautiful Byzantine churches in the Edirnekapı district. It is a must see, a pure Byzantine wonder.
“Chora” means in the countryside. This name was given because the construction of this church was made outside the city of Constantinople, that is to say after the ramparts dating from the 4th century.
When the Theodosian wall was built in 413-414, the emperor Theodosius decided to leave the church in the defensive system and to keep its name Chora. When Constantinople was taken in 1453, the time when Byzantium ended.
In 1511, which transformed Chora Museum also into a mosque and renamed it “Kariye” which comes from the Greek always meaning “in the countryside”.
Despite the fact that in Islam the reproduction of characters is prohibited; during the transformation of churches, successive sultans have always kept intact, the frescoes and mosaics of these places of Christian worship by hiding them with plaster and wood.
In 1945, Chora was transformed into a museum. Once we removed the plaster we found the splendid intact mosaics of the Byzantine church in Istanbul.
The Basilica Cistern
The third of the top 10 sights in Istanbul list is Istanbul Basilica Cistern with magical decor dating from the 6th century. The Cistern is located in Istanbul, near the Saint Sophia Basilica in Istanbul.
The Basilica Cistern dates from the 6th century, built by Justinian (Byzantine emperor), at the same time as the Saint Sophia Basilica in Istanbul.
The Basilica Cistern had been built for a primary use for the need for water during the sieges of Constantinople and summer periods. The Istanbul Basilica Cistern has a rectangular plan, its dimensions are 138 m by 64.6 m.
It can hold 78,000 m3 of water, it is the largest cistern in Constantinople, among the 22 closed cisterns in the city. Its outer wall is a brick masonry wall, 4 m thick, and covered with a hydraulic coating.
The interior space is subdivided by 12 rows of 28 marble columns, for a total of 336 columns. Each column measures 8 meters and supports arches and brick arches.
Most of the columns are topped with Corinthian capitals, but there are also transoms. They all came from various Roman temples.
The fourth of the top 10 sights in Istanbul list is Topkapi Palace is located on the European side in the Fatih district (historic city district) in the center of ancient Constantinople, near the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.
Topkapi Palace overlooks the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, a breathtaking view. The Topkapi Palace was built in 1459, on the acropolis of ancient Byzantium, spanning the trifle of 700,000 m² (the part that can be visited on 400,000 m²).
The Suleymaniye Mosque
The fifth of the top 10 sights in Istanbul list is Sinan’s masterpiece and classic Ottoman architecture : The Suleymaniye Mosque. Yet it is not as visited as the Blue Mosque and despite being just as beautiful and full of history. It is true that its position is quite far from what one can call the center, but it is worth it.
Located in the Suleymaniye district, on a hill majestically overlooking The Golden Horn, Soliman the legislator for the Turkish people, did not choose the position of the construction of his mosque randomly, a location simply remarkable, in plain sight exceptional.
The Museum of Islamic Art in the Palace of Ibrahim Pasha
The sixth of the top 10 sights in Istanbul list is The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is located on the European side in the former palace of Ibrahim Paşa, grand vizier of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. At the Hippodrome, this palace is a fine example of Ottoman civil architecture from the 16th century.
It has a collection of precious Korans, carpets, objects and history to discover for lovers of calligraphy. It is a very rich exhibition in a place full of history.
The Rustem Pasha Mosque
The Rustem Pasha Mosque is the seventh on the top 10 sights in Istanbul list. The finest Iznik earthenware lines the entire mosque with excellence; its exterior austerity hides a sumptuous interior wall treasure. It is in the Eminonu district just next to the Spice Market.
Its small size and proportions make it the perfect example of Ottoman art, one of his masterpieces especially in its floral decorations (carnations, daisies, tulips and lilacs) and its coating of earthenware tiles from Iznik which decorate the interior walls and the walls of the peristyle.
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is the eighth on the top 10 sights in Istanbul list. From the top of its 6 minarets, so majestic and so impressive, it is the most visited monument in Istanbul. The Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Camii, it is known for its blue ceramics which decorate the walls of its interior.
It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the reign of Sultan Ahmet.
The Dolmabahce Palace – Top 10 sights in Istanbul
The ninth of the top 10 sights in Istanbul list is Dolmabahce Palace (in Turkish: Dolmabahce Sarayı) is located on the European side of the Bosphorus. It was the residence of the sultans from 1853 to 1922. It is the meeting point between east and west, Rococo style, that of Baroque or Neoclassical.
Dolmabahçe Palace has the world’s largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers.
It has an area of 45,000 m² and has 285 rooms, 44 bathrooms, 6 baths (hammams) and 68 toilets. It is the largest palace in Turkey considering that the monobloc building occupies 15,000 m².
The Archaeological Museum of Istanbul – Top 10 sights in Istanbul
The last of the top 10 sights in Istanbul list is the archaeological museum of Istanbul. You can see 3 Museums in the same place: a main archaeological museum, a museum of works from the ancient east and an enamelled pavilion museum.
The three of them house more than a million objects, representing almost all periods of world history to be discovered.