Top Attractions for Istanbul

Topkapi Palace

The Topkapı Palace which has been the center of the state administration for nearly four centuries of the Ottoman Empire, is preparing to host the masterpieces of the Kremlin Palace. The exhibition that is named “Kremlin Palace Treasures are in the Topkapı Palace” is inviting all residents of Istanbul to be witnesses of the great meeting of the two palaces.

The Museum is open in between: April 15th – November 1st 09:00 to 18:00 every day except Tuesdays November 1st – April 15th 09:00 to 16:00 every day except Tuesdays
Entrance Fee: 30 TL (Harem section extra 15 TL)

Basillica Cistern

The city’s most unexpectedly romantic attraction, the Basilica Cistern, offers an insight into the complicated system that once brought drinking water into Istanbul from Thrace (an area of the south-east Balkans now constituting Turkish land n the European mainland, and a chunk of Bulgaria). Constructed in the sixth century and then forgotten for centuries, the cistern that once stored the water has been fitted with lights and music. Fish flitter around the bases of the 336 columns that support the ceiling. Don’t miss the upside-down head of Medusa that forms the bottom of one column, proof that Byzantine builders saw Roman relics as little more than reusable rubble.

The Museum is open in between: 09:00 to 19:00 every day except Mondays
Entrance Fee: 20 TL

Aya Sophia

After decades in which scaffolding cluttered the interior of Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century Byzantine masterpiece, the thrill of being able to experience the extraordinary spaciousness of this famous church-turned-mosque-turned museum is hard to overstate. Downstairs the building is largely empty; the best of the glittering mosaics lurk in the galleries upstairs. Newly opened are the tombs of several early Ottoman sultans and their slaughtered sons – before primogeniture new sultans immediately had all potential rivals killed. Before the end of the year, the city’s finest carpets will go on display in the soup kitchen added after the church was turned into a mosque.

The Museum is open in between: April 15th – November 1st 09:00 to 18:00 every day except Mondays November 1st – April 15th 09:00 to 16:00 every day except Mondays
Entrance Fee: 30 TL

Blue Mosque

Facing Aya Sofya across a small park and mirroring its domed silhouette, the early 17th-century Blue Mosque is one of only a handful of mosques in the world to boast six minarets. Is it really blue? Well, not noticeably, although all the walls are papered with fine İznik tiles. To view it as the architect, Sedefkar Mehmed Aga, originally intended, enter via what looks like the side entrance from the Hippodrome. Afterwards, pop your head into a building the size of a small mosque on the corner of the complex. This houses the tomb of Sultan Ahmed I, the man who gave his name to both the mosque and the neighbourhood.

Open: Open everyday, outside prayer times
Entrance Fee: No entrance fee

Galata Tower

Watery Istanbul is a city that cries out to be viewed from on high, and you can get a bird’s-eye view of everything from the balcony at the top of the Galata Tower in Beyoğlu, the modern part of old Istanbul that, in pre-Republican days, was home to the city’s foreign residents. Built in 1348, the tower once formed part of a sub-city belonging to the Genoese that stretched right down to the Bosphorus. In a footnote to aviation history, it was from this tower that Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi flew across the Bosphorus from Europe to Asia in 1638, thus inaugurating the first ever intercontinental flight.

Open: from 09:00 to 17:00
Entrance Fee: 20 TL

Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahce Palace built in 19 th century is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world. It was the administrative center of the late Ottoman Empire with the last of Ottoman Sultans was residing there. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic in Ankara, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk transferred all government functions to the youthful capital but on his visits to Istanbul Ataturk occupied only a small room at Dolmabahce Palace as his own. He stayed, welcomed his foreign guests and made a practical center for national, historical and language congress and for international conferences.

Dolmabahce Palace has a great meaning for Turkish people since the supreme leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had used the palace as a residence and spent the most serious period of his illness and he passed away in this palace on 10 th of November 1938 at 9:05 AM

The Museum is open in between: 9.00-15.00 every day except Mondays and Thursdays
Entrance Fee: Selamlik (Official part) 30 TL – Harem (Privy Chambers) 20 TL – Common Ticket for both 40 TL

Beylerbeyi Palace

Beylerbeyi palace was built as a summer residence and a place to host foreign heads of state. Empress Eugenie of France and Franz Joseph of Austria were among the famous visitors.
Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II was kept captive in the palace between 1912 and 1918. The palace was commissioned by Sultan Abdülaziz and built between 1861-1865.

The architect was Sarkis Balyan who was the brother of Nikoğos Balyan, the architect of Dolmabahçe Palace. Balyan family served as the principle architects of the Ottoman Sultanate in the 19th century.

The Museum is open in between: 9.00-15.00 every day except Mondays and Thursdays
Entrance Fee: Selamlik (Official part) 15 TL – Harem (Privy Chambers) 10 TL – Common Ticket for both 20 TL

Maiden’s Tower

Maiden’s Tower (KIZ KULESI) is one of the romantic symbol of Istanbul. It constructed first in the 12th century and present building get dates from 18th century.

KIZ KULESI is on a tiny-tiny bit islet at the entrance to Istanbul Harbor on Bosphorus. Islet’s nearest land point is Istanbul’s Uskudar district at Asian side of the city, near Marmara Sea. This tower is part of famous Istanbul silhoutte and it catches everyone’s eyes passing through Bosphorus by boat.

The Maiden Tower is open in between: 9.00-00.30 every day

Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam

There are several magnificent steamy Ottoman bathhouses to choose from in the city, including the Çemberlitaş, Cağaloğlu, Galatasaray and Sülemaniye baths, but in 2011 for the first time it’s also possible for visitors to try out the spectacular 16th-century Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam right in Sultanahmet Square and designed for Suleiman the Magnificent’s scheming wife Roxelana. Think acres of marble, the sound of running water echoing around stupendous domes, and a massage fit for a sultan. You’ll come out almost purring.

The Hamam is open in betweeen: 7am to 11pm, separate sections for men and women
Treatments Fee: from €70 on

The Archaeological Museum

Walk to Istanbul’s three-in-one equivalent of the British Museum via the grounds of Topkapi Palace or through Gulhane Park. If time is tight, go straight to the large porticoed building housing the glorious sarcophagus of Alexander which depicts scenes from the life of Alexander the Great in vivid 3D. Kids will love the model Trojan Horse in the children’s section. Then pop into the lovely Tiled Pavilion, one of the city’s oldest Ottoman structures, beautifully restored to show off its finest ceramics. Finally, catch a glimpse of a peace treaty from 1269 BC preserved in the part of the museum nearest to the gate.

The Museum is open in between: 09:00 to 18:00 every day except Mondays
Entrance Fee: 15 TL