Sultanahmet is one of the neighbourhoods you absolutely must visit when in Istanbul.
This part of the city is essentially what used to be called Constantinople and where the city first sprang to life.
This World Heritage-listed district is packed with historic buildings and enough magical atmosphere to keep you enthralled for days.
In Sultanahmet you will find the main sightseeing attractions of Istanbul such as; Topkapı Palace, the church of Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia), Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, Yerebatan (Basilica) Cistern, the ancient Hippodrome, the Archaeological and Turkish and Islamic Arts Museums, and the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı).
Sultanahmet is located on the European side of Istanbul. Its main thoroughfare is Divan Yolu, which runs from the Grand Bazaar to Hagia Sophia. Most of the sights in the old city are around Sultanahmet Square and close enough to be settled on foot.
Must sees in Sultanahmet
Topkapı Palace Museum known as Topkapi Palace or in Turkish Topkapı Sarayı is a palace in Istanbul. The Palace was the most famous of the Ottoman Sultans’ residences in Istanbul, built in 1465. Most people will want to make straight for the Treasury to see the sultans’ egg-sized rubies and diamonds. Romantics will love the Harem. Buy a ticket online in advance to avoid having to queue.
Hagia Sophia is just steps away from the Topkapı Palace and famous for its massive dome; it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years until 1520. After exploring it, pop round to the side of the building to admire the tombs of some of the sultans of the Ottoman Golden Age.
Sultan Ahmet Mosque
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque is the national mosque of Turkey. The mosque is known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior.
Hagia Irene (Aya İrini), (on the grounds of Topkapı Palace). Hagia Irene, which you will notice to your left after entering the outer yard of Topkapı Palace, is one of few Byzantine-era cathedrals never converted to a mosque.
Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici) a giant underground cistern built by Justinian in 532 to provide water to the city in cases of siege. A wooden walkway winds between the pillars and lights and piped music add to the eerie atmosphere. Don’t miss the upside-down Medusa’s head reused as a column base.
Hippodrome, adjacent to the Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, was the centre of Roman and Byzantine Constantinople.
Museum of Archaeology
The Museum of Archaeology (Arkeoloji Müzesi) a must see! One of the best, including a great collection of Sumerian tablets, pieces of the wall of Babylon and Roman marble statues.
Chora Church (Kariye Müzesi), also known as the Church of St Saviour in Chora, is a 1000-year-old Byzantine church. The church is an absolute must see with precious mosaics and a captivating mood inside.
Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii) located on top of a hill overlooking the Golden Horn is a work of Sinan, an Ottoman architect of the 16th century. The Mosque is about 15-20 min walk away from Grand Bazaar.
Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) Istanbul’s grand old bazaar with an estimated 4400 shops lined along covered walkways. It is said to be the world’s oldest shopping mall, includes several blocks and features a labyrinth of side streets to keep you lost for the better part of a day.
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