Istanbul is a huge city, hectic with traffic jams a daily feature. The beauty for tourists, especially for those with limited time, is that some of the main attractions of Istanbul are within walking distance of each other in Sultanahmet on the European side of the City. The Topkapi Palace was home to the Sultans from the 15th Century to the middle of the 19th. Just a short distance away is Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque which the Ottomans built from scratch at the beginning of the 17th Century. The Justinian Cistern is a fascinating underground water system just a minute away. Even the Grand Bazaar with its 4,000 shops in 50 streets is just a walk away. The Bosphorus itself is an iconic stretch of water from which tourists can see the Galata Tower and the Suleymaniye Mosque. The Military Museum with its daily Ottoman Band performance is very comprehensive and certainly worth a visit.
is a former greek orthodox christian patriarchal basilica. Then it has turned, during the ottoman era, into an imperial mosque. Built in 537, its construction took over 1000 years to be completed. At that time it was the largest cathedral in Europe until the cathedral of Seville was built. It is now a museum about art and history of Architecture, and one of the most visited museum in the world!
Hagia Sophia is located in Sultanahmet on the European side of Istanbul. This iconic religious landmark has been a dominant part of the skyline for many centuries. There is evidence inside of its history with some of the original Christian frescoes in the ceiling revealed once more to those who climb up to the first-floor gallery where there is also an impressive collection of pictures and photographs. The Muslim symbols hang impressively above what was the prayer floor. Those Muslim features were first installed in the later part of the 15th Century after the Ottomans took the then Christian City of Constantinople and went on to establish a huge Empire that survived until the First World War. The more obvious signs of Islam perhaps were the addition of minarets outside what became the mosque. Its importance to Islam waned slightly when the Blue Mosque nearby was completed in 1616 but it still stood in its magnificence,
The Topkapi Palace
in Istanbul is a former residential building of the Ottomans sultans. The construction of the Palace began in 1459, six years after the conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul). In 1985, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site like many parts of the city of Istanbul. Now, since 1923, Topkapi Palace is a museum where you can visit the most important room of the palace such as the Imperial Treasury Room or the Ottoman Imperial Harem, which was the room of the wives of Sultans.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque
, also known as the Blue Mosque, is a historic mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is still religious today, and Muslim keep on kneeling on the red carpet after the call to prayer. Built under the rule of Ahmed I, the blue mosque got its name from the color of its wall that is blue. The particular design of this mosque is the result of two centuries of development of mosque architecture. With its five domes it is one of the most beautiful places in Istanbul.
The Süleymaniye Mosque
is an Ottoman imperial mosque located on the Third Hill of Istanbul. It is the second biggest mosque in the city and one of the most-known sights of Istanbul. Built on under the rule of Sultan Süleyman in 1550, it blended Islamic and Byzantine architectural elements. It combines tall, slender minarets with large domed buildings supported by half domes in the style of the Byzantine church Hagia Sophia.
Süleymaniye Mosque may not get the attention given to Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque but it is nevertheless an essential part of the Istanbul skyline. Suleyman became Emperor in 1520 and ruled for nearly half a century, rightly earning the title ‘’Magnificent’’ as the Empire flourished and Suleyman earned the respect of his citizens for his wisdom. He had ruled for over 30 years by the time this mosque was completed. It was the architect Mimar Sinan who was charged by Suleyman with the task of designing this mosque and it took 7 years to complete. The complex involved not just the main prayer area; there was a library, hospital and hospice, madrasa and kitchen, hamam and shops. It was the most significant Ottoman structure at that time even though it was perhaps less ornate than some other mosques of the period. That mattered not.