Istanbul was formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic centre. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia.
1. The Hagia Sophia was once a house of worship that served several religions well over the centuries. It started out as a Greek Eastern Orthodox basilica that was home to the Patriarch of Constantinople when it was built in 537. For almost six decades in the 12th century it was a Roman Catholic church. After years of restoration works, the Hagia Sophia is finally scaffolding free, enabling you to absorb its splendor as it was meant to be.
2.The Blue Mosque, built in the early 17th century, remains an active house of worship today. This means visitors need to time their visits carefully, as the mosque is closed to sightseers during the five daily prayer times for Muslims. All visitors must remove their shoes and women must cover their hair. This is a small price to pay for seeing its priceless treasures that include 20,000 ceramic tiles in various tulip designs and 200 stained glass windows, all with intricate designs. The mosque, built by Sultan Ahmet, takes its name from the blue tiles on the dome and the upper levels of the interior.
3.A short walk down the street takes you to the Grand Bazaar for the most exciting shopping experience you'll ever have.There are more than 5,000 shops in the Grand Bazaar covering 60 streets.It was an important trading center dating back to the 15th century. Travelers who love to shop shouldn’t miss out on a visit to the Grand Bazaar, with 5,000 shops making it one of the largest indoor marketplaces in the world. Receiving more than a quarter-million visitors a day, the bazaar features such items as jewelry, carpets that may or may not fly, spices, antiques and hand-painted ceramics.
4.Topkapi Palace is one of the must-see attractions in Istanbul that combines history and stunning scenery in an experience that is not to be rushed. Rich in the history of the Ottoman Empire, the Topkapi Palace is surrounded by five kilometers of stone wall with 27 towers. Topkapi, which dates back to the 15th century, is situated on a hill overlooking the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. At one time it was an official royal residence of the Ottoman Empire sultans and seat of Turkish government, but is now a museum that is considered the largest and oldest palace in the world. Visitors can get a glimpse of the harem’s quarters, where the government worked, a collection of old weapons used by the sultans, the palace kitchens with a huge porcelain collection, and the treasury with its collection of jewels and clocks.
5.The Galata Tower which is 21 feetrules over the Istanbul skyline, offering great views of the old city and its surroundings. The medieval stone tower, known as the Tower of Christ, was the tallest building in Istanbul when it was built in 1348. It still stands tall over Istanbul today. The tower has been modified over the centuries, at one time being used as an observation tower to spot fires. Today, its upper reaches include a café, restaurant and a night club, both reached by elevator in the nine-story building, where one can find the stunning vistas.