Top Attractions in Turkey

Selfie with the Dolmahbace Mosque in 2016

First Visit: November 2013
Photography: Arthur Jeciel

In November 2013, I was able to visit Istanbul for the first time thus making Turkey my thirty-eighth visited country 😉 It was a very short visit to the beautiful city of Istanbul together with the Singelresor group but nonetheless very fruitful as we were able to make the most of our stay. In case you are visiting Istanbul in the future, here are some of my travel tips:

The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque): Famous for its Iznik tiles and being unique with six minarets, the mosque was built in the name of Sultan Ahmet from 1609-1616.

Saint Sophia (Hagia Sophia): Considered as one of the greatest marvels of architecture, it was constructed as a basilica in 6th Century AD on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinianus. After being an imperial mosque between 1453 and 1931, it had been turned into a museum in 1935.

Mosaic Panel "Judgement Day" inside the Hagia Sophia

Topkapi Palace: With its beautifully decorated gardens and impressive building complex, this used to be the Imperial Residence of Ottoman Sultans. Inside these buildings, you will see exhibits of Imperial treasury, Chinese porcelain, weapons, calligraphy and holy relics among others.

The Hippodrome: This used to be the center of sportive events (chariot races and athletics) and political activities of the city during the Roman and Byzantium periods. Here you can see the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Serpentine Column and the German Fountain of Wilhelm II.

The old City Walls (The Walls of Constantinople): The walls are a series of defensive stone walls that have surrounded the city of Constantinople (known today as Istanbul) still standing after so many centuries.

The European Fortress (Rumelihisari): The fortress is located on a hill at the European side of the Bosphorus, so make sure you take the boat for a Bosphorus Cruise.

Spice Bazaar or Egyptian Bazaar: With mystical smells of different aromas from various spices, this is a must visit place when travelling to Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar: If you think the Egyptian Bazaar didn't satisfy your shopping pleasures, this certainly will. Offering authentic experience in a competitive souk, the bazaar offers souvenirs, jewelry, carpets, tiles and a whole lot more in over 3000 shops.

Beylerbeyi Palace: Built between 1861 and 1865 as a summer palace and pleasure palace to entertain dignitaries and royalty, this is definitely a palace you shouldn't miss. One is not allowed to take pictures inside so you have to visit it to appreciate the elegance and beauty of the interior.

The Bosphorus Bridge: Also called as the First Bridge, it is one of two suspension bridges spanning the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul that connects Asia to Europe. It is 1,560 meters long and is the 21st longest suspension bridge span in the world. I stayed at the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus last year and from my room, I had a fantastic view of the bridge which was lit in the evening 👍

Basilica Cistern: This would be familiar to you if you had seen the 2016 Tom Hanks' film "Inferno". It is one of the few early architectural examples that have survived till the present age. It was built during the reign of Emperor Justinianus in the 6th century, the age of glory for Eastern Rome.

Galata Tower: It is one of the oldest and most beautiful towers in Istanbul which was built in 507 during the sovereignty of the Byzantine Emperor Justinianus.

Kadikoy: A lovely district with numerous bars, cinemas and bookshops, it is considered as the cultural center of the Anatolian side of Istanbul.

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