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Culture of Istanbul. Places to visit - old town, temples, theaters, museums and palaces

Istanbul Istanbul is home to numerous old buildings and religious sites. Hagia Sophia Cathedral is one of the most popular places of interest among tourists. It was built in the beginning of the 6th century. After the capture of Constantinople the great cathedral was converted into a mosque. In 1934 the building of the cathedral was turned into a museum. Nowadays visitors can see here priceless collections of art objects.
Istanbul is an ideal city for lovers of shopping. It is full of luxury shopping malls, colourful markets and original stores. Osmanbey area is a perfect place for purchasing new clothes and … Open
The mosque of Sultanahmet is a more recent religious monument. The building of the masque was completed in 1616. This is one of the most beautiful mosques of the city, which is famous not only by its elegant architecture, but also by carefully selected interior decoration. Travelers should also not forget to visit Sultanahmet Meydanı – the most famous square of the city and an ancient hippodrome. During the reign of emperors the square was the venue for gladiator fights. Thousands of townspeople gathered here to watch this exciting spectacle.
Fans of excursions will find much interesting in visiting Yedikule fortress, which now hosts the exhibition of a museum. The castle was built by Byzantine craftsmen and was long used as a prison. Today in several halls of the fortress you will find collections of antique torture instruments. The museum is open for all guests. The building of beautiful Dolmabahce Palace was completed in 1853. The palace has the right to be considered the most luxurious palace of the city. As many as 14 tons of gold and 40 tons of silver were used for the interior decoration of the palace. Dolmabahce Palace has become a real synonym of "oriental luxury". Copyright
Discovering the architecture of Istanbul from bird's eye view! Hagia Sophia, Suleymaniye Mosque, Galata Tower, Maiden Tower, New Mosque, Ortakoy Mosque, all those monuments are defining the image of Istanbul … Open
Topkapi Palace is a no less interesting architectural monument, which construction started by the order of Mehmed II and took place more than four centuries ago. Inside the beautiful palace is stored a priceless artifact - a mummified hand in a silver frame. According to an ancient legend, the hand belonged to Prophet Muhammad. Many interesting stories and legends are connected with Topkapi Palace, which may be very interesting to hear for every traveler. The bridge of Galata is another interesting attraction. It was built in the late 19th century. Today the bridge is not only an important historical object, but also a popular entertainment center. Here you will find spacious and viewing platforms, cozy restaurants, and various shops.
In the section below, you can get one of our excursion tickets or city discovery tours over Istanbul and surroundings. Our website offers 10-30% lower ticket prices, when compared to the offline purchase on the spot.

City tours, excursions and tickets in Istanbul and surroundings

Plan your own excursion through Istanbul: churches, museums and castles

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

» Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the largest and one of the most beautiful mosques of Istanbul. The name ‘Blue Mosque’ it owes to a huge variety of blue and white ceramic tiles used in interior decoration.
» Construction of the mosque has being carried out for 7 years and was completed in 1616.
» The most unusual part of the Blue Mosque is a niche for prayers carved from a huge piece of marble with a black stone, which was brought here from Mecca.
» The mosque has a separate entrance for the Sultan, who came here on a horse. Before the entrance there was a low-strained chain for the passage, so he had to bend down. Thus, he gave praise to God and demonstrated the insignificance of the Sultan before the Almighty.
» When construction of the Blue Mosque was completed, it was found that the most sacred mosque in Islamic world, Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, was caught up in the number of minarets (there were six of them) by Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It was treated as sacrilege, so it was decided to attach another minaret to the Masjid al-Haram to make it to surpass all existing facilities once again.

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

» Topkapi Palace can be considered the whole city located on the territory of Istanbul, because the total area of the palace is more than 700 thousand square meters, and the length is about 5 kilometers.
» Topkapi Palace houses a vast collection of treasures including jewelry, costumes, weapons and sacred artifacts. Major exhibits include cape and sword of the Prophet Mohammed and his collection of porcelain, which is the third most important in the world.
» The fifth largest diamond in the world, which is set in silver and surrounded by 49 smaller diamonds, is kept in the Treasury of the Palace.
» One of the main attractions of the Palace, Harem, is a protected and prohibited place. Only people, which were very close to the Sultan, including his family, wives, concubines, eunuchs and servants had access there. Entrance to the Harem was strictly forbidden to outsiders; all inside was run by the mother of the Sultan.
» The Palace has being the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.

Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul

» While constructing this mosque, architect Sinan uttered the famous phrase, "The mosque will stand for eternity."
» Lamps in the mosque are made of ostrich eggs. They became home to a huge family of spiders, which are bred because of herbs, incense and spices in an oil lamp.
» There are many legends associated with the Suleymaniye Mosque. It’s said that a piece of black stone of the Kaaba was placed inside its dome. According to another legend, gems could be found in the minarets of Suleymaniye. Persian Shah has sent gems as a sponsorship to build the mosque; those were meant to gode Sultan Suleiman. The Sultan in anger has ordered to lay these treasures in the masonry of one of the minarets.
» Previously Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul was not only a religious institution, as there were hospital, madrassa, shelter, baths, and a caravanserai.
» Suleymaniye Mosque also houses the tomb of Suleyman the Magnificent and his wife Roxelana.

Eyup Sultan Mosque, Istanbul

» Eyup Sultan Mosque is built on the place of burial of the standard-bearer of the Prophet Muhammad, Eyup Ansari, who was killed at the siege of Constantinople.
» There is a tradition concerning the throne succession. According to it, the future ruler certainly must visit Eyup Sultan Mosque, where he will wear the legendary blade once belonged to the founder of the dynasty of Osman Gazi and, only then, he will be declared the ruler of the Muslims.
» Today, the holy Muslim relics are carefully preserved inside the mausoleum; the footprint of the Prophet Muhammad stands among them.
» It’s simply impossible not to notice shadyrvan, the ritual ablutions fountain, at the entrance of the mosque. It’s intended for the girdling the sword ceremony.
» The mosque was often subjected to destruction and reconstruction. The most devastating was an earthquake of 1766. Sultan Selim the Third decided to demolish the almost destroyed mosque and rebuild it anew.

Galata Tower, Istanbul

» Galata Tower was built in the mid-14th century. Then, it had a different name, the Tower of Christ, and its structure was designed to perpetuate the expansion of the Genoese colony of Constantinople.
» During the reign of Sultan Selim II, Galata Tower was used as an observatory tower.
» Since 1874, it was used as a watchtower. The tower, which was called Big Bastion by the Byzantines, and the Tower of Jesus by the Genoese, has changed its appearance several times during Ottoman era.
» On the seventh floor, you can see the relief image of Hazerfena Ahmet Celebi. He was the first person who managed to fly using homemade wings.
» Galata Tower provides the best view of the Golden Horn, the historic peninsula, the Bosphorus and the Asian coast.
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What to visit during two-day excursion in Istanbul

Turkish Baths
Where: Vezirhan Cad. No, Istanbul; Telephone: +90 212 522 79 74;
Topkapi Palace
Where: Babihümayun Cad., Sultanahmet, Istanbul; Telephone: +90 212 512 04 80;
Aya Sofya
Where: Ayasofya Meydani, Sultanahmet, Istanbul; Telephone: +90 212 522 17 50;
Sultanahmet Or The Blue Mosque
Where: Hippodromen, Sultanahmet, Istanbul; Telephone: +90 212 518 13 19;
Where: Prof Siddik Sami Onar Cad. Sultanahmet, Istanbul; Telephone: +90 212 514 01 39;
Chora Monastery / Kariye Camii
Where: Kariye Camii Sok. Edirnekapi, Istanbul; Telephone: +90 212 631 92 41;
Boat trips
Reference information
Map of all palaces
Public palaces near Istanbul
♥   Palace 'İbrahim Paşa Palace' , 1.6 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Palace 'Tophane Palace' , 1.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Palace 'Topkapı Palace' , 1.8 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Palace 'Aynalıkavak Palace' , 2.3 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Palace 'Dolmabahçe Palace' , 3.8 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Palace 'Ihlamur Palace' , 4.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Palace 'Çırağan Palace' , 5.2 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all art museums
Art galleries in Istanbul and around
♥   Art museum 'Rezan Has Museum' Istanbul, 0.9 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'SALT (institution)' Istanbul, 0.9 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Museum of Turkish Calligraphy Art' Istanbul, 1 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Tiled Kiosk' Istanbul, 1.6 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum' Istanbul, 1.6 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all churches
Cathedrals and basilicas near Istanbul
♥   Ayatriada Rum Katoliki Kilise, Istanbul, 2.5 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Basilique-Cathédrale Saint-Esprit, Istanbul, 3.4 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Car rental on Rentals in Istanbul

Photogallery of cultural heritage of Istanbul

Landmarks of culture on Istanbul map: art-galleries, monuments, palaces, etc

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Excursions over cultural sights of neighbours of Istanbul

Culture guide to Istanbul. Which fascinating sights to visit once you are in Istanbul: temples, museums, churches, museums, theaters and castles. Recommendations (with addresses, phone numbers and links) on the places 'must visit' in Istanbul. Plan your own city excursion by using this page info! - online travel reservation expert providing reliable car rental and hotel booking services. We feature more than 25.000 destinations with 12.000 rental offices and 200.000 hotels worldwide.
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