What to see in Istanbul? Cultural tour
Your to visit list in Istanbul
Almost all the major cultural heritage attractions are located in Sultanhamet district, which makes it easier to go from one to another.
Süleymaniye mosque, or better known as the mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent, was built in the 16th century by the great architect Sinan. It stands on a hilltop dominating the Golden Horn and contributing to the skyline of Istanbul. This mosque is the largest of Istanbul.TripAdvisor nr1 !
Blue Mosque (known also as Sultanhamet Camii)
Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 years, during the rule of Ahmed I. One of its pecularities is to have 6 minarets ! And when this visit is over, you will walk a couple of minutes to go to Hagia Sofia, next door.
Hagia Sofia Museum (Aya Sofia)
It was originally a Christian basilica of Constantinople from the 6th century that became a mosque in the 15th century by the will of Sultan Mehmed II. Since 1934 it is no longer a place of worship but a museum. Entrance costs 40TL, allow one, or two hours for the visit.
The name of this palace literally means “Palace of the Door of the Canons”. It was the imperial residence of the Sultan. The palace extends over 70ha, it is surrounded by 5km of ramparts. UNESCO inscribed it on the World Heritage List in 1985 where it is described as “an incomparable set of buildings built over four centuries, unique in the architectural quality of its buildings as much as in their organization that reflects that of the Ottoman Court, “also visit the Palace Harem. The palace entrance costs 40 TL and the 25TL harem. Allow half a day ! Open from 9h to 18h45 in summer and from 9h to 16h45 in winter, closed on Thuesdays.
When you are fed up with the hectic and touristic area of Sultanhamet but still want to visit more, I suggest this one close to Taksim ! Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahçe Palace was the administrative center of the late Ottoman Empire with the last of Ottoman Sultans residing there. A very nice place where you just could just appreciate the gardens and wonderful Bosphorus view.
Other highlights and must see in Istanbul
A good advise : be there at the opening at 9am otherwise it will be so crowed than pointless. The view is unique and worth the 6€ entrance !
On your way to Pierre Loti coffee place, another thing to do to taste the real Turkish coffee, this is an area where you will feel a much more traditional ambiance with only few tourists.
The Eyüp Mosque is much less touristic and yet great to visit
Istiklal – Cihangir – Cukurcuma
Good vibes only ! Full of artists, craft shops, antiques, coffee shops, restaurants and a central place from where you could go anywhere.
Istiklal is not a place where you will find luxurious or very trendy boutiques but it is much more local and life is here simple yet arty.
There is so much to discover ! and depending of your point of interest and number of days, you could also appreciate the area of Balat and Fener, the Princes’ Islands and of course the Bosphorus boat tour that is not to miss while you are in Istanbul.
At night… I really like the Karaköy area, full of life and street art.
Turkish bath or Hammam
This is probably one of my oldest memories, and the only one with my grandmother Nesrin: the one where she brought me to the Turkish bath, in other words to the Hammam. I had to be around 4 years old and I remember very precisely the smell of the place, this smell typical of soap with olive oil or black soap. A typical smell that I only find in this country.
Even today, there are hammams open to families, which welcome children from 6 years old, so do not hesitate to make this experience with yours !
The hammams, for the most part, separate men and women. Note that you wont see a lot of locals in the big chic and expensive hammams. Instead, locals go to neighborhood hammams where they spend time to be pampered and relaxed.
Hammam comes from an Arabic word that means hot water bath.
I advise you Kilic Ali PASA Hammam really beautiful in the neighborhood of Beyoglu. Reservation : www.kilicalipasahamami.com