10 must see attractions on Istanbul’s historic peninsula
ISTANBULIstanbul’s historical peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 which has been an important witness to world history, is the heart of ancient Istanbul. Four major empires were ruled from this point. As you can guess, there are many historic places on the peninsula such as mosques, churches, palaces and even more of which only traces remain.
Below are our top 10 picks worth visiting.
1. Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral in 537 and converted to a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans. It was secularized in 1935 and reopened as a museum.
2. Topkapı Palace
Built in the 1470’s, Topkapı Palace was one of the major residences of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years (1465–1856) of their 624-year reign. The Ottoman Empire was ruled from Topkapı Palace for 380 years. It is now a museum.
3. Süleymaniye Mosque
Süleymaniye Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque located on the Third Hill of Istanbul. It is the largest mosque in the city and one of the most famous sights of Istanbul.
4. Sultanahmet Square
Sultanahmet Square was a circus which formerly served as the sporting and social center of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı where a few fragments of the original site’s Byzantine-era Hippodrome remain.
5. Gülhane Park
Gülhane Park is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul. It was once part of the outer garden of Topkapı Palace. It has been used as a public park since 1912. Extending from Topkapı Palace to the Bosphorus, it is a nice alternative for a walk and a coffee break when the weather is nice.
6. Basilica Cistern
This world-famous underground cistern was built in the 6th century and is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that still lie beneath the city. It has a size of 143 by 65 meters, with a capacity to hold 80,000 cubic meters of water.
7. The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest closed markets with more than 4,000 shops. It is renowned for its jewelry, pottery, spice, leather and carpet shops.
8. The German Fountain
The German Fountain is a gazebo-styled fountain in the northern end of Sultanahmet Square across from the Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed I. It was built in Germany to commemorate the second anniversary of German Emperor Wilhelm II’s visit to Istanbul in 1898. The fountain was later transported to Istanbul piece by piece and erected at its current location in 1900.
9. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum
The Istanbul Archaeology Museum is a group of three archeological museums, the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art, located in the Eminönü district near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace. It houses over 1 million objects from almost all eras and civilizations in world history.
10. The Tiled Kiosk
The Tiled Kiosk is a pavilion set within the outer walls of Topkapı Palace and dates back to 1472, as shown on the tile inscription above the main entrance. It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II as a pleasure palace or kiosk. It is located in the most outer parts of the palace, next to Gülhane Park. It was also called the Glazed Kiosk.