Istanbul is a city that wears its culturesand history well, blending them into an exciting city that has much to offer travelers fromaround the world.
Founded during Neolithic times, Istanbul todayis a modern city that remains true to its historic heritage through its mosques, basilicasand ancient bazaars.
Standing between the East and the West, Turkey’slargest city offers an aura of intrigue and charm that will appeal to all visitors.
Here’s a look at the top tourist attractionsin Istanbul: Number 10.
At 219 feet high, the Galata Tower rules overthe Istanbul skyline, offering great views of the old city and its surroundings.
The medieval stone tower, known as the Towerof Christ, was the tallest building in Istanbul when it was built in 1348.
The tower has been modified over the centuries, at one time being used as an observation tower to spot fires.
Today, its upper reaches include a restaurantand a night club, both reached by elevator in the nine-story building, where one canfind the stunning vistas.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
One of the most important museums in Turkey, the Istanbul Archaeological Museum is housed in three separate buildings which containmore than 1 million objects from civilizations around the world.
Founded in 1891, it was the first Turkishmuseum, and is located on what used to be the grounds of the outer parks of TopkapiPalace.
The museums contain thousands of preciousartifacts, including the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great.
The Chora Church may be a little bit off thebeaten tourist path, but visitors say the beautiful Byzantine art is well worth theeffort to get there.
Magnificent mosaics and frescoes depict thelife of Jesus and his mother Mary.
Dating back to the days of Constantine, theChora was a monastery in its early years; a few centuries later, it became a mosque, and in 1948, it was converted to a museum.
The Basilica Cistern has been providing Istanbulresidents with water since the sixth century when it was ordered built by the Roman EmperorJustinian I.
A visit leaves travelers raving about thetechnology the ancient Romans used to build this architectural wonder that was very advancedfor its day.
Known as the Sunken Palace, the cistern sone of the locations used in From Russia with Love, a James Bond movie filmed in 1963.
Luxurious, plush and beautiful are just someof the adjectives used to describe the Dolmabahce Palace, which has been compared to the Palaceof Versailles.
Built in the 19th century using 14 tons ofgold leaf, Turkey’s most glamorous palace blends traditional Ottoman architecture withthe European styles of Neoclassical, Baroque and Rococo.
Home to six sultans from 1856 to 1924, thepalace’s setting is stunning: It was built along the Bosphorus coastline.
Visitors to the Suleymaniye Mosque say itsbeauty and peacefulness gives them an inspiring sense of spirituality.
Located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, themosque was built in 1550 by the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent.
The mosque, indeed, is magnificent, blendingthe best of Islamic and Byzantine architecture.
The mosque was extensively damaged over theyears, including during World War I when a fire broke out while the gardens were usedas a weapons depot.
Travelers who love to shop shouldn’t missout on a visit to the Grand Bazaar, with 5, 000 shops making it one of the largest indoormarketplaces in the world.
Receiving more than a quarter-million visitorsa day, the bazaar features such items as jewelry, carpets that may or may not fly, spices, antiquesand hand-painted ceramics.
The bazaar dates back to 1461 and today ishome to two mosques, four fountains, two hammams and the jewelry market, where the rarest andmost valuable items have been found traditionally.
Topkapi Palace is one of the must-see attractionsin Istanbul that combines history and stunning scenery in an experience that is not to berushed.
The palace, which dates back to the 15th century, is situated on a hill overlooking the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.
At one time it was an official royal residenceof the Ottoman Empire sultans and seat of Turkish government, but is now a museum.
Visitors can get a glimpse of the harem’squarters, where the government worked, the palace kitchens with a huge porcelain collection, and the treasury with its collection of jewels and clocks.
The Blue Mosque, built in the early 17th century, remains an active house of worship today.
This means visitors need to time their visitscarefully, as the mosque is closed to sightseers during the five daily prayer times for Muslims.
All visitors must remove their shoes and womenmust cover their hair.
This is a small price to pay for seeing itspriceless treasures that include 20, 000 ceramic tiles in various tulip designs and 200 stainedglass windows, all with intricate designs.
The mosque, built by Sultan Ahmet, takes itsname from the blue tiles on the dome and the upper levels of the interior.
Hagia Sophia The Hagia Sophia was once a house of worshipthat served several religions well over the centuries.
It started out as a Greek Eastern Orthodoxbasilica that was home to the Patriarch of Constantinople when it was built in 537.
For almost six decades in the 12th centuryit was a Roman Catholic church.
It became a mosque in 1453, remaining thatway until 1935, when it reopened as a museum.
At one time, it was the largest cathedralin the world and served as the inspiration for other mosques, including the Blue Mosque.
It is most famous for its mosaics depictingvarious religious scenes.