Istanbul (The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia)
 

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Istanbul - FURTHER INFORMATION

Istanbul - Istanbul visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Istanbul' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Istanbul.

This Istanbul map shows the locations of 360 panoramas taken around the city linked to Google maps. Together these images for a virtual tour of the sights and attractions of Istanbul with some local and travel information, providing an interactive Istanbul guide for planning holidays.

Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and, straddling the border of Europe and Asia, the only city on earth to occupy land on two continents. The European side has been occupied since Neolithic times (6500 BC) and the first evidence of occupation on the Anatolian side dates back to 5500 BC. In 667BC King Byzas established 'Byzantion' on the European side, later known as Byzantium.

Istanbul - Short History

Byzantium was then occupied by the Romans, and in 324AD, after the battle between Constantine and Licinius, was renamed 'Constantinopolis' (Constantinople), becoming the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 395. The Byzantine Empire endured until the Ottomans captured the city in the 14th century, converting many of the church buildings into mosques.

Istanbul remained the capital of the Ottoman Empire, but when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the Republic of Turkey in 1923, he moved the capital from Istanbul to Ankara. Istanbul continued to grow however, remaining the largest city in Turkey and, with nearly 13million inhabitants, is one of the largest cities on earth. The rich history has blessed Istanbul with many important historical sites and buildings, many of which are now designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites of global importance.

Istanbul - Major Attractions

Istanbul has hundreds of sights and attractions that draw millions of visitors annually. The city can be roughly split into Beyoğlu quarter, Old City East, Old City West and surroundings.

Istanbul Beyoglu District - Beyoğlu is on the European side of İstanbul, separated from the Old City by the Golden Horn. It is known for the arts, night life and entertainment.

  • Dolmabahçe Palace - built by Abdul Mecid in 1854 in Turkish Renaissance style on the edge of the Bosporus, this palace was the main residence of the Sultans until 1918. It is now a museum and is also used for state visits.
  • Dolmabahçe Clock Tower - next to the Dolmabahçe Palace this is a prominent landmark in Istabul, built between 1890 and 1895.
  • Dolmabahçe Mosque (Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan Mosque) - built between 1853 and 1855 on the edge of the Bosporus.
  • Galata Tower - this 68m high tower was built in Byzantine times and restored in both 1423 by the Genoese and again in 1875. It is one of the most prominent landmarks in Istanbul with stunning panoramic views over the city.
  • Golden Horn - take a boat trip up the Golden Horn seeing the historic skyline of the Istanbul.
Istanbul Old City East - The eastern part of the Old City of Istanbul is crammed with historic buildings, many top tourist attractions in the city. Among the most important and popular in this part of Istanbul are:
  • Valens Aqueduct (Bozdoğan Kemeri) - completed in the 4th century, this aqueduct took water from hills between Kağıthane and the Sea of Marmara to Istanbul. The surviving section is 921 meters long.
  • Bayezid II Mosque (Bayazit Mosque) - impressive mosque built near the site of Forum of Theodosius in the 15th century, patterned inside like the Hagia Sophia.
  • Archeological Museum - contains an important collection of prehistoric Greek, Roman and Byzantine antiquities including the Sarcophagi of the Kings from Sidon.
  • Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Camii) - built between 1609 and 1616 Ahmed I, famous for the blue tiles used to decorate the interior.
  • Burned Column (Column of Constantine, Çemberlitaş sütunu) - 50m tall, built on the orders of Constantine the Great in 330 AD to commemorate the Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire, burnt in a fire caused by the 1779 earthquake and now only 35m tall.
  • Cisterns - massive underground cisterns built by Justinian in the 6th century, with huge chambers supported by individually unique columns.
  • Egytian Bazaar - most important bazaar in the Old Town after the Great Bazaar.
  • Grand Bazaar (Kapali Çarsi) - one of the largest covered markets on earth with over 1,200 shops on 58 covered streets attracting up to 400,000 visitors a day. First opened in 1461 and well known for jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops.
  • Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) - former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum, one of the top attractions in Istanbul. Building of this church started in 532, it was damaged on several occasions by fire and earthquake and converted into a mosque during Ottoman rule.
  • Horse Square (Atmeydani) - more than 300m long, this was the site of a hippodrome built by Septimius Severus in 203.
  • Şehzade Mosque (Sehzade Mosque, Prince's Mosque) - imperial mosque in the Fatih district of Istanbul, on the third hill, commissioned by Sultan Suleiman I and completed in 1548.
  • Suleiman Mosque (Suleymaniye Mosque) - Süleymaniye Mosque is an imperial mosque on the 2nd hill of Istanbul, the second largest mosque in the city, built under the order of Sultan Suleiman I (Suleiman the Magnificent) opening in 1557.
  • Sultans Gate - gate in front of the ToTopkapı Palace, contains the Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III (III. Ahmet Çeşmesi), built during the 'Tulip' period of the Ottoman Empire in 1728.
  • Topkapı Palace - top tourist attraction in Istanbul, the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years, a great complex of luxuriously tiled rooms set aside for the Sultans and their women.
Istanbul Old City West - This section of Istanbul extends to the west of the Ataturk Bulvari to the old western wall. Attractions within this part include:
  • Kariye Camii (Church of St. Savior in Chora) - the most beautiful Byzantine church in Istanbul, decorated inside with fine mosaics and frescoes. The foundations of this church predate the 5th century city walls into which it was incorporated.
  • Golden Gate and Yedikule Fortress - built between the times of Theodosius I and Theodosius II, the Golden Gate was used for ceremonial processions.
  • Fatih Mosque - built on the order of Fatih Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror between 1463-1470, one of the largest examples of Turkish-Islamic architecture in Istanbul.
  • Mihrimah Sultan Mosque - designed by Mimar Sinan for princess Mihrimah, the daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent this mosque is on to of the 6th hill of the city.
  • Sultan Selim Mosque - the plainest of all the royal mosques, built between 1520-26 by Süleiman the Magnificent in memory of his father Selim I.

TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE

Flight: Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) 20km from the city center, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW).
Train: Sirkeci Station for trains from Europe and Haydarpasa Station for trains from Asia.
Bus: Büyük Otogar bus station 10km west of the city center with over 160 ticket offices and gates.
Ferry: Karakoy Port



Recent Local Panoramas

The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia
The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia / Istanbul
Istanbul from the Galata Tower
Istanbul from the Galata Tower / Istanbul


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