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— This article, “5 Spectacular Places to Visit in Istanbul,” was written by Kyle Ward of RebatesZone.com
5 Spectacular Places to Visit in Istanbul
Istanbul is a city steeped in history. What do you expect from a city which was the center of three gigantic empires and many smaller ones! It served as the capital for the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.
Istanbul is also the only city in the world to lie on two continents: Europe and Asia. I would recommend a stay of no less than two weeks here. Anything less would be an injustice to the many civilizations which have left their mark.
But, often while going through the streets a question popped up in my mind: Why Istanbul? The answer is quite simple actually: Istanbul held a very strategic position on the old Silk Road.
Making a top 5 list for Istanbul is an exercise in futility, but if you only have a couple of days to visit Istanbul, then you absolutely have to visit the following.
In many ways Hagia Sophia is a historical reflection of Istanbul itself. It started out as a Byzantine Basilica, then it turned into a Roman Catholic Church, and when the Turks Conquered Istanbul it was turned into a Mosque, which it stayed till the 1930s when it was closed down. When it opened later, it was no longer a place of worship. It had been turned into a museum. All three eras are clearly visible in the current museum’s structure. It is a masterpiece, and one of the most beautiful places in the world. Known for its mosaic galleries, it is an epitome of architecture and spacious design. The floor area is largely empty in contrast. It has served as the inspiration for countless other structures in the world including the nearby Blue Mosque.
If I just say that this was the primary palace of one of the largest empires in the world, then that would be enough qualification for visiting it. To fully visit its splendor would take half your day alone. The palace has a dazzling amount of Islamic art and well managed courtyards. The rooms are opulently decorated and yet the palace has battlement walls and towers to ward off attacks.
If you are short on time, then the one thing you cannot miss out on is the Imperial Treasury, which still has many of the treasures of the Ottoman Sultans. This only comes second to the Imperial Council Chamber. But, if you have more time, I would suggest a whole day for the Topkapi Palace.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
If you plan meticulously, you should be able to visit both the Palace and this museum in one day. They lie very close together; in fact you can simply walk over from the Palace. So, the question is: why do I rank a museum above so many other admirable venues? The simple answer is that it is the single biggest museum (actually technically three museums) which hosts art and historical artifacts from all over the Middle East. The sarcophagus of Alexander the Great is alone to warrant a visit here.
I am all for historical stuff, but if history can be merged with shopping and the local culture, then there is nothing better. The three sites mentioned above are actually dead when it comes to experiencing live culture, but the Grand Bazaar is alive and thriving. It is a living thing which has a life of its own. With 61 covered streets and more than 3,000 shops, it is one of the largest covered markets in the world.
This one is as obvious as the one before. There are some similarities between the two. Both feature significant Ottoman architecture. They are both covered. And both receive in excess of 500,000 visitors collectively. Needless to say that the Spice Bazaar is much smaller than the Grand Bazaar, it houses only 100 spice and other shops.
There are many other places to visit in Istanbul, but these are my top 5 Spectacular Places to Visit in Istanbul. Of course, this is a subjective list. Other honorable mentions would include the Blue Mosque and Hippodrome. Both are excellent representations of two different cultures but that is for another time.
I would suggest ditching the idea of staying at hotels, unless you are at company expense, and perusing the excellent Airbnb services to stay right in the middle of the historical center. Depending on the timing, it can be cheaper and more convenient for visiting the aforementioned places.
About the author: This post is written by Kyle Ward, he works at Rebates zone.
Thank you, Kyle, for contributing this article about spectacular places to visit in Istanbul. If you are interested in submitting a guest travel article, please contact me by clicking “Contact” above. Thank you.