Hagia Sophia (Turkish name Ayasofya)
Hagia Sophia was constructed in 537 and used as a Greek Orthodox Cathedral until 1204, and was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. In 1204 – 1261 it was converted to be used as a Roman Catholic Cathedral under the Latin empire. From 1261 – 1453 it was again used as a Greek Orthodox Cathedral. In 1453 Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered for the cathedral to be converted into a mosque. With his orders the cathedral was converted to be a mosque and continued to serve as a mosque until 1931. Christian features were removed by the orders from the Ottoman rulers and replaced with Islamic features like the Mihrab, Minbar and four Minarets. In 1931 the mosque was closed for 4 years and re-opened in 1935 to be a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Hagia Sophia is the second most visited museum in Turkey, which attracts around 4 million visitors a year.
Grand Bazaar (Turkish name Kapalı Çarşı)
The Grand Bazaar was started to be built in the winter of 1455, after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople with the orders of Sultan Mehmet II. The construction ended in the winter of 1460. The Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3000 shops in Istanbul. There are about 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, Grand Bazaar was chosen as number 1 out of the worlds most visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazaar is located in the Fatih district in Istanbul, and is very easy to be traveled.
Basilica Cistern (Turkish name Yerebatan Sarnıcı)
Basilica Cistern is the biggest of many ancient cisterns which lie under Istanbul. The Cistern is located 150metres southwest of Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu. The Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. There was round 7000 slaves working during the construction of the Basilica Cistern. The Basilica Cistern provided water filtration system for the Topkapı Palace during the Ottoman conquest in 1453.
Çemberlitaş Bath (Turkish name Çemberlitaş Hamamı)
Mimar Sinan who was an Ottoman architect built çemberlitaş bath in 1584. Çemberlitaş bath is located on Çemberlitaş square, next to the Vezirhan monument erected by Constantine I (324 – 327). Çemberlitaş bath was established by Nurbanu Sultan who was the wife of Selim II and the mother of Murat III.
The Maidens Tower (Turkish name Kız Kulesi)
The Maidens Tower was built in 1110. According to a Turkish legend, an emperor had a beloved daughter and one day an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a snake on her 18th birthday. He built the tower in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. On her birthday the emperor brought a basket of exotic fruit as a birthday present, which a snake had hid into. The princess got bitten by the asp and died in the arms of her father just like the oracle had predicted. The Maidens Tower has been converted into a restaurant and café with a wonderful view. Private boats take people to and from the Maidens Tower couple of times a day.
Topkapı Palace (Turkish name Topkapı Sarayı)
Topkapı Palace is one of the most attractive historical places in Istanbul. It is rich in the history of the Ottoman Empire. The palace is placed on a hill which is overlooking the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Topkapı Palace was an official royal residence of the Ottoman Empire sultans for nearly 400 years, and the seat of the Turkish government but now it is converted into a museum and opens its doors to everyone. Topkapı Palace is considered to be the largest and oldest palace in the world. In Topkapı Palace a collection of old weapons, a glimpse of the harems quarters, the kitchens, jewels, sword and the cloak of Prophet Muhammed is on display with many more historical objects.
Galata Tower (Turkish name Galata Kulesi)
Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower which is located in the Galata quarter of Istanbul. The Galata Tower is one of the city’s most striking landmarks. The tower was built in 1348 during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Istanbul, which was then called Constantinople. The upper section of the tower was modified during the Ottoman period when it was used as an observation tower to spot fires. The Galata Tower is to the north of the Golden Horn’s joint with the beautiful Bosphorus. When the Galata Tower was built in 1348 it was the largest building in Istanbul. It was around 66.9m high (219 ½ feet). To a travelogue of Evliya Çelebi who was a traveler and historian during 1630-1632 Hazarfen Ahmet Çelebi (Ottoman aviator), climbed to the Galata Tower and flew from the top of the tower, over Bosphorus and landed in Üsküdar which is located in the Asian side of Istanbul, (6km away from the Galata Tower).
Rumelian Castle (Turkish name Rumeli Hisarı)
Rumeli Hisarı is also known as the Rumelian Castle, which is located in Sarıyer. Rumeli Hisarı was built by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II between 1451 and 1452 before his army’s conquest of Constantinople. With the orders of Celal Bayar (president of the time), in 1953 the inhabitants were relocated and extensive restoration of Rumeli Hisarı started on 16th May 1955 and ended on 29th May 1958. Since 1960 Rumeli Hisarı has been used as a museum and open air stage for concerts and many other events especially during the summer. Rumeli Hisarı is open to the public every day except Wednesdays.
The Golden Horn (Turkish name Haliç)
Haliç is a major urban waterway and the primary inlet of the Istanbul Bosphorus. Haliç is 7.5km long and 750metres wide. The Golden Horn takes its name from its shape like a horn. The Golden Horn is spanned by five bridges which are located next to each other. The bridges begin with
- Haliç Bridge which was constructed in 1974 and connects Sütlüce and Defterdar
- Eski Galata Köprüsü (The Old Galata Bridge), connects Karaköy and Eminönü
- Atatürk Köprüsü (Atatürk Bridge), constructed in 1940 and connects Kasımpaşa and Unkapanı
- Halic Metro Köprüsü (Haliç Metro Bridge), constructed in 2014 and is used as a railway station for the Istanbul Metro line
- Galata Köprüsü (Galata Bridge) completed in 1994 and connects Karaköy and Eminönü
Ortaköy Mosque (Turkish name Ortaköy Camii)
Ortaköy mosque is located in Ortaköy near Beşiktaş in Istanbul by the sea, which makes it one of the most popular visited places in the Bosphorus. The mosque was built on orders from the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid, and was built in 1854 – 1856. The architects of Ortaköy Mosque were Garabet Amira Balyan and Nigoğayos Balyan (an Armenian father and son) who also designed Dolmabahçe Palace and Dolmabahçe Mosque which is also located quite close to Ortaköy Mosque.
Chora Church (Turkish name Kariye Müzesi)
The Chora Church was built as a part of a monastery in Istanbul, on the south to the Golden Horn. The building was built in the 5th century. In 1453, the last siege of Constantinople, Theotokos Hodgetria who was believed to be the protector of the city was brought to the church to assist the defenders against the Ottomans. 50 years after the fall to the Ottomans, the grand vizier of Sultan Beyazıd II, Atık Ali Paşa ordered for the Chora Church to be converted to a Muslim mosque. Since 1958 the Chora Church has been accepting its visitors as a very historical museum.
Sumela Monastery (Turkish name Sümela Manastırı)
Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery that was dedicated to Virgin Mary, located in Maçka which is a district of Trabzon. The monastery was found in AD 386 during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius. The monastery has been ruined several times and has been restored by several emperors.
Bodrum Castle (Turkish name Bodrum Kalesi)
Bodrum Castle was built from 1402 onwards by the Knights of St John as the ‘Castle of St. Peter’. During 1962 the Turkish government decided to turn the castle into a museum for underwater discoveries of the ancient shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea.
Mevlana Museum (Turkish name Mevlana Müzesi)
The Mevlana museum is located in Konya. The museum is the mausoleum of Celaleddin Muhammed Rumi who is a Sufi mainly known as Mevlana. After the death of Mevlana on 17th December 1273, Mevlana’s successor Hüsamettin Çelebi built a mausoleum over Mevlana’s grave. Until 1854 several other sections were added and decorated. On 2nd march 1927 the mausoleum was turned into a museum and opened. The mausoleum was then renamed and called Mevlana Museum since.
Ephesus (Turkish name Efes)
Ephesus is located in Izmir. Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC by the Attic and Ionian Greek Colonists. Once the city came under control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC it was flourished. The city is famous for the Temple of Artemis and is one of The Seven Wonders in the Ancient World. The ruins of Ephesus is a great attraction to tourists and local citizens and welcomes hundreds of visitors annually. Ephesus is also believed to be the city of the seven sleepers, by Orthodox Christians and Catholics.