If your vacation dreams include seeing historic landmarks, look no further than traveling to Istanbul. The city that straddles two continents is filled with iconic sites around the Straits of Bosporus. Pick up travel tips from sanetraveller, pack your camera, and be ready for your mind to be blown by these historic landmarks. Learn about these 5 Amazing Landmarks That Call Istanbul Their Home.
The Cultural Beauty: 5 Amazing Landmarks That Call Istanbul Their Home
Istanbul brings together modern architecture and icons from history. The city was once ruled by Greeks who named it Byzantium. Eventually, the Romans took the city and called it Constantinople after Emperor Constantine.
Throughout the city’s long history, the Byzantine culture remained, but the Persians, Arabs, and crusaders made their way into it. Eventually, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople and renamed the city Istanbul. The Ottomans remained in control until World War I, until the Allies took over. All of this upheaval has filled Istanbul with landmarks representing a variety of cultures.
1. The Blue Mosque
You don’t have to be Muslim to appreciate the beauty of the Blue Mosque. This architectural masterpiece was built between 1609 and 1616. It was originally built with six minarets, but a seventh was added to avoid issues with the Great Mosque at Mecca. The Blue Mosque is blue due to the iconic blue tiles that dot the interior.
2. Hagia Sophia
Another name of this shrine to God is Aga Sofya. Emperor Justinian declared that his throne in the Aya Sofya was the center of the civilized world. He believed that the church showed his wealth and strength. After the Ottomans took over Constantinople, they turned the church into a museum, which allowed them to appreciate the cherished building.
3. Topkapi Palace
Plan at least half of a day to tour the massive palace on the shores of the Bosporus. The Ottoman sultans considered this their home as they ruled for 400 years. The palace features opulent Islamic art, hand-painted tiles, and luxurious decor. Once inside the palace, visit the Harem, the Palace Kitchens, and the Sacred Safekeeping Room, so you can see the opulence at its greatest. The amount of gold would be enough to make King Midas blush.
This was where the Byzantines held their sports and competitive chariot races. It took about 130 years to fully complete the Hippodrome between AD 203 and AD 330. Much of the original footprint is lost, but there are some walls and monuments that honor the athletes and creators. There are still three monuments that date back to ancient times including a pair of obelisks and a column from ancient Delphi. Many of the gold and bronze pieces that were once in the Hippodrome were stolen by Crusaders.
5. Basilica Cistern
This attraction was built to bring drinking water into Istanbul. Now, it’s a tourist attraction filled with columns, lights, and music. Space was once filled with water. One of the must-see sights in the Basilica Cistern is the upside-down Medusa Head. Emperor Constantine began construction of this building, but Justinian finished it in the 6th century.