Standing between the East and the West, Turkey’s largest city will bathe your mind in mystique, charm and beauty. Istanbul is a city that that is proud of its cultures and history, and it wears it well.
These characteristics blend and make Istanbul an exciting city, a city that has such to offer. It was founded during the Neolithic era, but it somehow manages to renew itself over and over again. This is a modern city that remains true to its rich historic heritage.
The Istanbul Archaeological Museum
This is one of the most important museums in Turkey, consisting of 3 segments: The Archaeological Museum, the Ancient Orient Museum and the Tiled Kiosk Museum. Between themselves, these three museums contain more than a million objects from civilizations all around the world.
It was founded in 1891, thus making it the first Turkish museum, but the Tiled Kiosk museum actually dates back to 1472. Its location back then was in the Topkapi palace grounds. The museum is home to the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great.
The Dolmabahce Palace
This palace has been compared to the Palace of Versailles, and with good reason. Its lush, luxurious architecture marks the most glamorous palace in Turkey, built right along the Bosphorus coastline. It was built in the 19th century with 14 tons of gold leaf!
It splendidly blends the traditional Ottoman architecture with European styles, like Baroque, Neoclassical and Rococo. It’s home to the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, which was a gift from Queen Victoria. Six sultans lived here from 1856 to 1924.
The Suleymaniye Mosque
When it was built, it was the highest building in the Ottoman Empire. The mosque, which is located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, is marked by four minarets, which is a sign that it was built by a sultan -and not just any sultan.
It was ordered in 1550 by the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. As a lot of buildings in Istanbul, it beautifully blends the best characteristics of Byzantine and Islamic architecture.
The Topkapi Palace
The Topkapi Palace combines history and stunning scenery. It’s surrounded by five kilometers of stone wall, with 27 towers.
The palace dates back to the 15th century and 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.
You can take a walk through it and see 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.
The Hagia Sophia
This was once a house of worship and it served several religions over its long history. It was built in 537 as a Greek Eastern Orthodox basilica and a home to the Patriarch of Constantinople.
During six decades in the 12th century, it was a Roman Catholic Church, and in 1453 it became a mosque. It stayed a mosque until it was closed in 1931. Since 1935, it is a museum. It served as an inspiration for the Blue Mosque and it’s most famous for its mosaics.