According to Ezinesports, Istanbul is not the capital, but it is the largest city of Turkey. In Dutch, this metropolis of about twenty million inhabitants is also written as Istanbul. This busy city on two continents has always been an important city in history. This is mainly due to its location on the Bosphorus, which forms the entrance to the Black Sea. Whoever controls Istanbul (formerly: Constantinople) controls traffic to and from the Black Sea. Those who visit Istanbul will not have enough time to see everything. The city is so huge and has so many sights that you probably won’t be able to see everything in a weekend. We would therefore definitely recommend that you take 4 to 5 days for a city trip to Istanbul. Then you certainly have enough opportunity to, in addition to visiting the most popular sights, also have enough time to ‘feel’ the city by also taking time to discover the little things of Istanbul.
Top 10 sights of Istanbul
#1. Blue Mosque
The official name of this blue mosque is Sultan Ahmet Mosque. There used to be many blue tiles on the inside of this mosque, hence the name blue mosque. The mosque was built between 1609 and 1616. There are 6 minarets, which used to be an indication of wealth. The wealth continues inside, with 20,000 hand-painted tiles, the mosque has a special interior.
#2. Topkapi Palace
This oriental palace is located on a very large piece of land and consists of four different courts. Through Imperial gates you enter a small village. There is a bakery, hospital, horse stables and of course the palace with its gardens and nowadays terraces. Today, this palace is a very special museum and is therefore open to the public.
#3. Grand Bazaar
If you want to taste the atmosphere of a real Turkish market, then you should definitely visit the Grand Bazaar. All kinds of products pass by in this labyrinth of shops on the Kapali Çarsi. You will find Turkish carpets, spices, clothing, antiques, jewelry and much more. The most beautiful “game” that is played is that of haggling. Tea or something delicious is often offered in the meantime.
#4. Aya Sophia
Opposite the blue mosque is this Aya Sophia/Hagia Sophia. Now this is a museum, but it used to be a cathedral and mosque. It has even been the largest cathedral in the world for centuries. Many mosques, including those in the Netherlands, are derived from this Aya Sophia mosque.
One of the most beautiful bathhouses in Istanbul has to be the Cağaloğlu Hamami. This bathhouse is more than 300 years old. You really feel like you have stepped back in time. There is a special atmosphere, which many celebrities and royals have already experienced. Various treatments can be booked.
#6. City wall Istanbul
To see the old city wall from the 5th century, there are walks that start at the imposing castle of the seven towers ‘Yedikule Hisari’. The wall functioned as a defense for years. Nowadays there are all kinds of other activities on and around this wall. For example, there are small businesses or homeless people living in various niches. The wall has different appearances. Parts are heavily neglected and overgrown, but other parts have been restored. During the walk you get a beautiful picture of the old Istanbul and the modern of today.
#7. Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern is also called the sunken palace. Actually, this is an underground water storage. These water storages can be found in several places in Istanbul. In times of danger, water could be stored here for a longer period of time. An aqueduct brought water from the Belgrade forest into the Basilica Cistern. Due to its enormous size of 143 meters by 65 meters and 9 meters high, it could easily hold 80,000 m³ of water. There are 336 columns to support the Basilica Cistern. Several films have been partly filmed here, including James Bond From Russia With Love and The International.
#8. Yedikule Hisari
This castle with its seven towers has fulfilled many functions in history. First as a defense structure with an entrance gate, later as a treasury and later as a prison and execution site. Today it is a museum and you can walk on the walls. The view over the sea of Marmara is amazing. The location is now also used for concerts and festivals.
If you don’t have time to visit all the sights of Istanbul, you can make up for that in Miniaturk. This miniature park has all the sights in miniature. With an area of 60,000 m², this can rightly be called a park. There is also a swimming pool, restaurant, amphitheatre, shops, playground, boat trips and maze.
#10. Galata Tower
For a wonderful view of Istanbul, you should definitely visit the Galata Tower. This tower is located in the European part of Istanbul in the Galata district. By elevator it is possible to go to the highest point in the tower, where there is also a restaurant.