Istanbul is one of the unique cities of the world with one foot in Asia and one foot in Europe. Being the only city that served as the capital of 3 different empires, namely Ancient Rome, Byzantium and Ottoman Empire, the city continues to be the center of culture, art, architecture and politics for centuries.
Istanbul, which is among the most important and largest metropolises of the world, has valuable works of art with its city history dating back 3,000 years. These works, which have witnessed many events throughout history, are shown among the masterpieces of architecture and art, challenging the ages, are located in the European and Asian continents of Istanbul. From world-famous basilicas to magnificent palaces, from unique towers to magnificent mosques, Istanbul’s historical monuments are fascinating.
Historic Sites on the European Side
Almost every corner of Istanbul , which is the most important city in the world, which has closed and opened a new era and has a past as deep as the history of humanity , is full of structures, works of art and architectural textures where you can trace this rich culture.
Istanbul, which is almost an open-air museum, has so many places to visit and see that it does not end with counting. The historical richness that draws you in at every step, drags you to different periods with its magical atmosphere.
ⓘ Content List
Historic Sites on the European Side
- Hagia Sophia Mosque
- Sultan Ahmet Mosque
- Topkapi Palace
- Ibrahim Pasha Palace
- Suleymaniye Mosque
- Grand Bazaar
- Spice Bazaar
- Basilica Cistern
- Irene of the Palm
- Fener Greek Boys’ High School
- Bulgarian Church of St. Stefan
- Galata Tower
- Dolmabahce Palace
- Yıldız Palace
- Ciragan Palace
- Seven Towers Dungeons
- Rumeli Fortress
Historical Places on the Anatolian Side
- Haydarpasa Train Station
- Maiden’s Tower
- Mihrimah Sultan Complex
- Beylerbeyi Palace
- Adile Sultan Pavilion
- Anatolian Fortress
- Kuleli Military High School
- Khedive Pavilion
- Yoros Castle
- Aya Yorgi Monastery
- Heybeliada Seminary School
1. Hagia Sophia Mosque
Hagia Sophia is one of the most important monuments in Istanbul’s Historical Peninsula. Hagia Sophia, which was built as a church and then a cathedral in the Byzantine Period, is among the masterpieces of the architectural world with its magnificent design. The building, which was converted into a mosque with the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453, serves as a museum from 1934 to 2020, and now as a mosque.
Hagia Sophia, which was used as the temple of Christianity for 15 centuries, is a work that is shown among the 7 new wonders of the world. Hagia Sophia, which also hosts the throne of the Eastern Roman Emperor (Byzantine), is a must-see place to experience the feeling of time travel in the thousands of years of Istanbul history with its original 6th century ceiling mosaics, exquisite marble work in its interior and the tombs of the Ottoman sultans in its garden.
🕘 Hagia Sophia Museum visiting hours are between 09.00-19.00 in the summer period (1 April – 31 October); In the winter period (October 31 – April 1), 09.00-18.00. It is closed to visitors on Mondays. 🔐 Hagia Sophia Museum entrance fee is 72 TL. Museum Card is valid.
2. Sultan Ahmet Mosque
Sultan Ahmet Mosque is one of the most valuable structures of Istanbul. It is known in the world as the Blue Mosque because of the Iznik tiles inside. Located near Hagia Sophia, the mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet I in the 17th century. Sultan Ahmet Mosque, designed by Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa, a student of Mimar Sinan, is among the most beautiful mosques in the world with its colorful tiles, magnificent dome and magnificent structure.
With its dome and ceiling decorations, more than 20 thousand tiles with 50 different tulip patterns, and unique acoustics, the Blue Mosque has an atmosphere where you can witness the perfect architectural understanding, art and aesthetics of the Ottoman Empire Period, and at the same time find peace no matter what faith you are.
🕘 The visiting hours of the Blue Mosque start with the morning prayer for worshipers and end with the night prayer. For tourists who want to see the mosque, 3 different time zones have been set between 08.30-11.30, 13.00-14.30 and 15.30-16.45. On Fridays, the visit start time is 13.30. 🔐 There is no fee for the entrance fee to the Blue Mosque.
3. Topkapi Palace
Topkapi Palace, one of the most important structures from the Ottoman period, is located in the Sarayburnu district of Istanbul. The palace, which was used as an administrative center in the Ottoman Empire for 400 years, was built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1478.
In the palace where the personal belongings of the sultans who spent time in the palace and the tools used throughout the Ottoman Period are exhibited, Hz. Muhammad’s cardigan, beard, footprints, Hz. Ibrahim’s pot, Hz. Moses’ staff, Hz. David’s sword, Hz. It attracts great attention with the Department of Sacred Relics, where important relics such as Joseph’s robe are found.
Topkapi Palace, where you can witness the mystery of the Ottoman Empire and the private life of the sultan and the names of the administration, is the best source for information about the administration and daily routines of the empire.
🕘 Topkapı Palace visiting hours are between 09.00 – 16.45 in the summer period (1 April – 1 October); the winter period (October 1 – April 1) is at 09:00-18:45. It is closed to visitors on Tuesdays. 🔐 Topkapı Museum entrance fee is 72TL, Harem Section 42TL, Hagia Eirene Museum 36TL. Those who want to visit the Harem Section and Zülüflü Baltacılar Ward along with the museum also need to purchase a Harem entrance ticket. Museum Card is valid.
4. Ibrahim Pasha Palace
İbrahim Pasha Palace , named after the son-in-law and second vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent, Pargalı Damat İbrahim Pasha and located in Sultanahmet Square , is one of the most beautiful and important examples of the sixteenth century Ottoman civil architecture. Rising on the steps of the historical hippodrome dating back to the Roman period, the palace was the scene of many weddings, festivities and celebrations, as well as mixed periods and rebellions.
After İbrahim Pasha was strangled in 1536, it was used by different grand viziers as well as for tasks such as barracks, embassy palace, bookshop, mehterhane, sewing house and prison. İbrahim Pasha Palace is used as the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts today.
5. Suleymaniye Mosque
Süleymaniye Mosque , one of the most important examples of Ottoman Architecture , was built by Mimar Sinan between 1551 and 1557 in the name of Sultan Süleyman I. Located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, it consists of structures such as a mosque, madrasahs, library, hospital, hammam and soup kitchen. The Süleymaniye Mosque, which has an extraordinary beauty with its tiles and diamond ornaments, is known as the work of Mimar Sinan’s journeyman period.
The Süleymaniye Mosque is one of the most important examples of the structures that have an important place in social life and meet the needs of the people such as education, worship, health, eating and drinking.
🕘 Suleymaniye Mosque visiting hours start with the morning prayer for worshipers and end with the night prayer. Visitors who want to see the mosque can visit the mosque free of charge outside the prayer hours.
6. Grand Bazaar
One of the most touristic places in Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar is one of the first shopping centers in the world. The first part of the bazaar, located between Beyazıt Mosque and Nuru Osmaniye Mosque, was built by Fatih Sultan Mehmed in 1460. Later, the Grand Bazaar, which was gradually expanded, reached nearly 4 thousand shops on 65 streets. The bazaar, which has a wide variety of products from handmade products to clothes, from food to goods, is still one of the most visited places in the world today.
One of the oldest and largest shopping centers in the world, the Grand Bazaar is one of the indispensable travel routes to experience the historical atmosphere of Istanbul and to feel the tradesmen and shopping culture. 🕘 The Grand Bazaar is open 7 days a week between 08:00 and 20:00. You can visit it without paying any entrance fee.
7. Spice Bazaar
Located behind the Yeni Mosque in Eminönü and next to the Flower Market, the Spice Bazaar is one of the oldest covered bazaars in Istanbul, with herbalists, spice shops and traditional products, as well as many foodstuffs and souvenirs.
The bazaar, which was built by Turhan Sultan in 1660 by the chief architect of Hassa, Kazım Ağa, and survived two great fires, is a place that takes its visitors on a journey to historical Istanbul and wraps you in a different atmosphere where the smell of spices hits your face as soon as you enter. After the restoration in 1940-1943, it gets even more beautiful with a new restoration work started in 2014.
8. Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern , the best known of the cisterns in Istanbul , is located in the southwest of Hagia Sophia. The cistern, which was built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I to meet the water needs of the palace during the Byzantine Period, spreads over an area of 9,800 square meters. The Basilica Cistern, which has a very impressive structure with a water storage volume of 100 thousand tons, has been used as a museum since 1987.
Under the Historical Peninsula, the Basilica Cistern, inviting you to travel in time with its dim and humid atmosphere, is a peaceful, quiet and perfect place to get away from everything, even though it is located in the most crowded area of the city with its Byzantine columns, ornamental fish living in the cistern and Medusa Head.
🕘 Visiting hours of the Basilica Cistern is open to visitors between 09.00 and 17.30 in all seasons of the year. 🔐 The entrance fee to the Basilica Cistern is 10TL for adults, 5TL for students and teachers, and 20TL for foreign visitors. The Museum Card is not valid in the Basilica Cistern, as there is no museum affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
9. Irene of the Palm
Hagia Irene , located in the courtyard of Topkapı Palace , is a typical Byzantine structure with its materials and architecture, built by the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian after the fire in 532. The building, which was not converted into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul, but was used as a weapon and booty warehouse, was built during the reign of III. It was repaired during the reigns of Ahmet and Mahmut I.
The church, which was converted into a museum in two parts under the name of Museum of Ancient Weapons and Antiquities in 1846, has been hosting many art events since 1973, within the body of İKSV, as one of the first museology studies started in Turkey.
10. Fener Greek Boys’ High School
Fener Greek Boys High School , one of the most magnificent buildings of Istanbul, was built by the Greeks who returned to the city at the call of Fatih Sultan Mehmet after the conquest of Istanbul in 1454. Located in the Fener district of Fatih district, the school draws attention with its red color and domed architectural structure. Fener Greek Boys’ High School, which is also known as the Red School because it was built from red bricks brought from France, still continues its education life today.
The school, which is one of the most important representatives of the multicultural structure of Istanbul and where its education life continues, is not accepted from outsiders. You can only see the high school around its outer walls.
11. Bulgarian Church of St. Stefan
Sveti Stefan Church , a church affiliated to the Bulgarian Exarchate, located on the shore of the Golden Horn between Balat and Fener districts, is a very interesting structure built entirely of iron material and as a prefabricated structure. All parts of the building, which is a three-nave basilica lying perpendicular to the shore of the Golden Horn, are connected to each other by bolts, nuts and rivets or by welding.
The structure, which includes Neo-Gothic and Neo-Baroque elements in terms of style, was built by the Bulgarian minority in the Ottoman Empire, who wanted to establish their own churches independently of the Fener Orthodox Patriarchate, under the influence of the nationalist movement. It is written on the six bells of different sizes on the bell tower of the church, which was opened in 1898 and has the appearance of a cross, that it was cast in Russia for the Sveti Stefan Church.
12. Galata Tower
Galata Tower , one of the oldest towers in the world , was built in 528 by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius. The building, which was first designed as a lighthouse, was used as a shelter during the Ottoman Period and then as a fire watchtower. The Galata Tower, from which the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn can be viewed panoramically from the tower, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2013.
Galata Tower offers a magnificent experience both to watch the city breathlessly with its unique view of Istanbul and to take a closer look at the lands that once bordered the Byzantines, Genoese and Oamanians from the tower, which is one of the building blocks of Istanbul’s history.
🕘 Galata Tower visiting hours are 09.00-19.00. The tower is open to visitors 7 days a week. 🔐 Galata Tower entrance fee is 7.50TL for Turkish citizens, 15TL for foreigners. The Museum Card is not valid at the Galata Tower, which is operated by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
13. Dolmabahce Palace
Dolmabahçe Palace , one of the most eye-catching structures of the Bosphorus, is one of the Ottoman structures. The palace, which was built by Sultan Abdülmecid for the Balyan Family in 1839, fascinates with its beautiful decorations, unique paintings and rare works. Dolmabahçe Palace, which was also used by Atatürk between 1927-1938, continues to be used as a museum-palace since 1984.
Dolmabahçe Palace, which is flooded with visitors every year on the anniversary of his death, with its room where Atatürk passed away on November 10, 1938, is a reflection of the glorious period of the Ottoman Empire with its magnificent Bosphorus view and architectural style.
🕘 Dolmabahçe Palace visiting hours are 09.00-16.30. The palace is open to visitors 7 days a week. 🔐 The entrance fee to Dolmabahçe Palace is 30TL for Selamlik, 20TL for the harem room, the glass mansion and the clock museum, 10TL for the Palace Collections Museum, and 45TL for the all-inclusive ticket.
14. Yıldız Palace
Yıldız Palace , located on Beşiktaş Yıldız Hill, is one of the building groups that constitute the latest example of Turkish Ottoman Palace architecture. The palace, where three museums are located together, III. It was built for Selim’s mother Mihrişah Sultan.
The palace, which is one of the four centers where the Ottoman Empire was ruled, today consists of Yıldız Palace Museum, Yıldız Palace Theater and Performing Arts Museum and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Museum.
The building, which was converted into a museum in 1994, is one of the administrative centers of the Ottoman state, as well as the only palace theater that has survived to the present day, and it was built during the Second World War. It gains importance with Abdülhamid’s carpentry shop.
15. Ciragan Palace
Çırağan Palace is the only palace belonging to the Ottoman Empire located on the Bosphorus. Because these entertainments were held in the place where the palace is located, the palace was called ‘Çırağan Palace’. Known as Kazancıoğlu Gardens in the 17th century, these gardens adorning the Beşiktaş and Ortaköy shores of the Tulip Era were built by Sultan II. Although a palace was built by Mahmut, Sultan Abdülmecit had it demolished in 1857.
The palace, which was left unfinished after the death of Sultan Abdulmecid, who wanted to build a new palace in the western architectural style, was built in the eastern style, although it was completed by his brother, Sultan Abdulaziz. The inlaid doors of the palace, which cost 1000 gold, are now in the Berlin Museum, which was finished at a very high cost.
It was started to be used as the parliament building on 14 November 1909 and completely burned in the fire in 1910, along with many historical and antique works in the palace. The private collections of Abdülhamit and the library of Murat V were completely destroyed. Restored in 1987, Çırağan Palace has been serving as a hotel since 1990.
16. Seven Towers Dungeons
Yedikule Dungeons , one of the oldest open-air museums in Turkey as well as in Istanbul, was built to welcome the kings who came to Byzantium in a magnificent way.
Fatih Sultan Mehmet, who captured the city with the conquest of Istanbul, added three towers and extra walls to the structure and created a garrison here. Young Osman, Arsenal, III. Each tower of the building, which consists of seven towers with the names Ahmet, Treasury, Dungeon and Ball Tower, was used for different purposes.
17. Rumeli Fortress
Rumeli Fortress , also known as Boğazkesen Fortress , is located in the Sarıyer district of Istanbul. The fortress, which was built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1452 to prevent attacks from the north of the Bosphorus, covers an area of 30 decares. Rumeli Fortress, which has survived to the present day in its pristine condition, is now used as a museum and open-air theatre.
Hosting famous singers with the organization called Rumeli Hisarı Concerts until recently, the castle has a magnificent view of the Bosphorus. The construction of Rumeli Fortress, one of the most important stages of the process leading to the Conquest of Istanbul, is important for the history of Istanbul.
🕘 Rumeli Fortress visiting hours are 09.00-19.00 in summer (1 April – 31 October), 09.00-17.00 in winter (31 October – 1 April). Hisar is closed to visitors on Wednesdays. 🔐 Rumeli Fortress entrance fee is 25 TL. Museum Card is valid.
Historical Places on the Anatolian Side
1. Haydarpasa Train Station
Sultan II. Haydarpaşa Train Station , one of the important works made during the Abdülhamit Period , was built in 1908 as the starting station of the Istanbul – Baghdad Railway line. The building, designed by German engineers and Italian architects, is located in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district. Known as the main station of the Republic of Turkey State Railways, the building has been out of service for a while due to restoration works and archaeological excavations carried out around it.
Considered as the symbol of migration from Anatolia to Istanbul in many cult films in Turkish cinema, Haydarpaşa Train Station is on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, one of the most important historical structures of Kadıköy. The train station, which also has a ferry port in front of it, is a magnificent reflection of exquisite German architecture.
2. Maiden’s Tower
Maiden’s Tower , one of the oldest structures in Istanbul, is located off the Salacak Beach in Üsküdar. The building, whose first building was built in the Ancient Roman Period as a defense area, was used for different purposes in the Byzantine and Ottoman Periods. Standing out with its 360-degree panoramic view of Istanbul and its age-defying architecture, the Maiden’s Tower has been serving as a museum-restaurant since 1995.
The Maiden’s Tower, which has been the subject of countless stories and narratives since the time it was built, greets the ships, boats and ferries that cross the Bosphorus like a pearl on the Bosphorus. You can visit the Maiden’s Tower to have something to eat and drink while enjoying the beautiful Bosphorus air or to watch the Bosphorus view.
Maiden’s Tower visiting hours are 09.00-19.00. The tower is open to visitors 7 days a week. The restaurant of the Maiden’s Tower is open between 19.00 and 00.30. 🔐 Maiden’s Tower Museum entrance fee is 30TL, student 15TL. The Maiden’s Tower can be reached by boat trips from Salacak and Kabataş every 30 minutes.
3. Mihrimah Sultan Complex
The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque , built by Mimar Sinan for Mihrimah Sultan, the daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent, is one of the early works of the architect. It is a carefully planned structure whose dome is supported by semi-domes on three sides and where important historical buildings of Istanbul can be watched at sunrise and sunset.
Mihr-i Mah means Sun and Moon. The madrasah, consisting of sixteen rooms and used as a health center today; mausoleums and primary school can be visited.
4. Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace , located in the Beylerbeyi district of Üsküdar , was built by Sultan Abdülaziz in a grove known as the Cross Gardens during the Byzantine Period. The building, designed by the Balyan Family in 1861-1865, consists of six large halls, 24 rooms, 1 Turkish bath and 1 bathroom. Beylerbeyi Palace, which has an impressive structure with its decorations such as wood carving and gold embroidery, is one of the most spectacular buildings in Istanbul.
Beylerbeyi Palace, which was used as a ‘summer palace’ by Sultan Abdulaziz for a while, was also used as a state guest house by the decision of Abdulaziz. Today, the palace, which is allocated as a state guest house where foreign guests visiting Turkey stay, is one of the most precious structures of the Anatolian Side to witness the glorious years of the Ottoman Empire.
🕘 Beylerbeyi Palace visiting hours are 09.00-17.00. The palace is closed to visitors on Mondays. 🔐 Beylerbeyi Palace entrance fee is 25 TL. Although it is operated by the National Palaces Department of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Museum Card is valid at Beylerbeyi Palace since 1 January 2020.
5. Adile Sultan Pavilion
Adile Sultan Pavilion , located in Üsküdar’s Validebağ Grove , was built in 1853 by Sultan Abdülaziz. Named after the sultan’s sister, Adile Sultan, the pavilion was designed by the Balyan Family. The building, which is also known as the place where the Hababam Class movies are shot, is used as a teacher’s house today.
The most interesting feature of Adile Sultan Pavilion is that it hosts the place where 4 series of Hababam Class, directed by Ertem Eğilmez, which is one of the important works of Turkish cinema and Yeşilçam, were shot in the period 1975-1978. The room where the movie was shot can now be visited as the Hababam Class Museum.
🕘 Adile Sultan Pavilion visiting hours are 09.00-17.00. Kasır is open to visitors 7 days a week. For the visit, for which no entrance fee is paid, shoe covers must be purchased for 2 TL at the entrance to the Hababam Class Museum.
6. Anatolian Fortress
Anadolu Hisarı , built by Yıldırım Beyazıt in 1395, is located in the Anadoluhisarı district of Istanbul, right across from the Rumeli Fortress. The building, which is located on an area of 7 thousand square meters, consists of a rectangular four-storey tower. Anadolu Hisarı, which was built using block stones filled with mortar, is in need of restoration today.
The Anatolian Fortress, which was built by the Ottoman Sultan Yıldırım Beyazıt to prevent aid from the Black Sea to the Byzantine Empire, can only be visited with the special permission of the Hisarlar Museum. It is closed to the public.
7. Kuleli Military High School
Kuleli Military High School , one of the most important works from the Ottoman Empire, is located on the shore of the Bosphorus. The school, which used to be a barracks in its place, was rebuilt during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz. Kuleli Military High School, designed by Garabed Amira Balyan, was used as a military hospital for a while. The school, which trained officers for the Turkish Armed Forces and students who would later become a resource for the Turkish Military Academy, is still one of the most magnificent structures in Istanbul.
During the coup attempt on 15 July 2016, the building, which was used as the headquarters by some of the organizers of the coup, was closed together with other military schools on 31 July 2016 with the Decree-Law within the scope of the State of Emergency declared after the coup attempt. The future of the high school, where options such as a museum or a hotel are discussed, is uncertain.
8. Khedive Pavilion
Located in the Beykoz district of Istanbul, the Khedive Pavilion was built in 1907 by the last Khedive of Egypt, Abbas Hilmi Pasha. The building, designed by the Italian architect Delfo Seminati, is built on an area of one thousand square meters. The Khedive Pavilion, which was put up for sale in 1937, was not used for a long time. The pavilion, which was restored by Çelik Gülersoy on behalf of the Turkish Touring and Automobile Association in 1984, has been serving as the social facility of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality since 1996.
🕘 Hidiv Pavilion visiting hours are 09.00-22.30. It is open to visitors 7 days a week. You can visit the Kasra, which serves as the social facility of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, free of charge. You can take a break in the cafe and restaurant and enjoy the atmosphere of the historical place.
9. Yoros Castle
Yoros Castle , located in Anadolukavağı district of Istanbul , is one of the important works from the Byzantine Period. The castle, which was captured by the Genoese after the weakening of the Byzantines, was used for defense by the Genoese for many years.
It is thought that the castle, which spreads over a wider area than all the castles around Istanbul, took its name from ‘oros’ meaning ‘mountain’. Yoros Castle, which was used as a military base during the Ottoman Period, is among the attractions of Istanbul with its impressive city view. With its exquisite sea view and fresh air, the castle is one of the most beautiful sightseeing stops of the Anatolian Side.
🕘 There is no limit on visiting hours of Yoros Castle. You can visit Yoros Castle at any time of the day without paying an entrance fee.
10. Aya Yorgi Monastery
Aya Yorgi Monastery , one of the most visited places in Istanbul , is located on a hill of Büyük Ada, the largest of the Prince Islands. The building, which was built in 1751, takes its name from the Cappadocian Aya Yorgi (Saint Georgios), who was killed for his faith in the 3rd century AD.
Aya Yorgi Monastery, which consists of a church and a chapel, is seen by Christians as a ‘sacred place’ where wishes come true. The monastery, which is flooded with visitors especially during the Easter Period, can be reached on foot or by bicycle.
🕘 Aya Yorgi Monastery visiting hours are 09.30-16.00, 12.30-16.00 on Sundays. Aya Yorgi Monastery can be visited without paying an entrance fee.
11. Heybeliada Seminary School
Heybeliada Seminary , which has the title of clergy because it provides religious education, is located on the Ümit Hill of Heybeliada. The building, which is the second school to provide education in the field of religion after the Faculty of Theology at the University of Athens, was first built as the Aya Triada Church in the 9th century.
Heybeliada Seminary, which was converted into a theology school in the 19th century, was opened in 1844 by the Fener Greek Patriarch, Germanos the 4th. The school, which gave nearly 1000 graduates during its service period, was completely closed by the patriarchate in 1973. The school, which has not been in education for a long time, hosts various events from time to time. Heybeliada Seminary can be visited with special permission.
With its architectural masterpieces, unique sacred structures, unique palaces and magnificent works that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, Istanbul maintains its importance both in Turkey and in the world.