Istanbul, Turquie

The 19 essential things to do in Istanbul

Last update : 26/05/2024 15:37

Istanbul, a city straddling Europe and Asia, is a captivating blend of ancient charm and modern vibrancy. From the iconic domes of the Hagia Sophia to the elegant minarets of the Blue Mosque, its skyline narrates a rich history. The Bosphorus, a bustling strait, not only divides the city but also unites its diverse cultures.

The Grand Bazaar, a labyrinth of treasures, immerses visitors in a sensory feast of colors and aromas. Istanbul's culinary scene is a journey through Turkish delights, from street-side simit vendors to aromatic kebab joints. The bohemian energy of Beyoglu's Istiklal Street complements the historic grandeur of Sultanahmet.

Taksim Square pulses with modern life, hosting both locals and tourists in its lively ambiance. Istanbul's warm hospitality, evident in tea houses and markets alike, invites travelers to connect with the city's soul. Each step in Istanbul unfolds layers of the past and present, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a magical tapestry of culture and history.

1 - The Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Timeless Journey through Hagia Sophia

Embark on a captivating voyage through the ages with the iconic Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. This architectural marvel unfolds a rich tapestry of history, bearing witness to both Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Immerse yourself in the mystical ambiance of ancient mosaics, towering domes, and marble columns. Each architectural detail unveils a unique fusion of cultures and beliefs.

Explore the imperial gallery, where echoes of past rulers linger. The filtered light through stained glass windows adds a sacred aura to your experience. Outside, the garden offers a peaceful retreat amidst Istanbul's hustle. Pair this visit with other treasures in Sultanahmet, from Topkapi Palace to the sensory delights of the Grand Bazaar.

This journey through Hagia Sophia is a plunge into spirituality and art, an odyssey transcending epochs and imbuing your soul with the grandeur of this iconic site. Roam the historical alleys and let the timeless magic of this place, steeped in wisdom and beauty, transport you.

2 - The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque Serenity: A Journey into Istanbul's Architectural Jewel

Embark on a transcendent journey through the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture that beckons with its serene grandeur. As you step into the courtyard, the six minarets and cascading domes create a celestial ambiance, inviting you to explore the spiritual and artistic depths within.

Adorned with thousands of blue tiles, the mosque's interior unveils a symphony of color, intricacy, and geometric patterns. The interplay of light through stained glass windows adds a mystical touch to your experience, creating an atmosphere of tranquility and reflection.

Marvel at the impressive mihrab, a masterpiece of Islamic art, and the expansive courtyard where fountains whisper a calming melody. Allow the rhythmic sounds of prayers and the gentle rustle of visitors' footsteps to guide you through this sacred space.

Consider visiting during the quieter hours to fully appreciate the mosque's beauty without the hustle and bustle. Engage with the locals, offering a respectful nod to the worshippers immersed in their spiritual rituals.

After your exploration, take a moment in the surrounding park to absorb the meditative energy of the Blue Mosque. Savor a traditional Turkish tea at a nearby café, where you can reflect on the architectural marvels and cultural significance encapsulated within the Blue Mosque's walls.

As you leave, carry with you not only the visual splendor of this iconic mosque but also a profound sense of tranquility and connection to the rich history and spiritual essence of Istanbul. The Blue Mosque, with its timeless elegance, promises a voyage into a realm where architecture and spirituality converge in perfect harmony.

3 - Topkapı Palace

Topkapı Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Topkapı Palace: A Regal Odyssey Through Ottoman Grandeur

Embark on a regal journey through the centuries at Topkapı Palace, an Ottoman masterpiece nestled in the heart of Istanbul. This historical treasure invites you to delve into the opulence and intrigue that defined the empire. Here's a thematic description for your travel inspiration:

Your odyssey at Topkapı Palace commences in the opulent Gate of Salutation, where the echoes of Ottoman splendor beckon. Traverse the opulent courtyards, adorned with fountains and gardens, as the whispers of history accompany your every step.

Step into the hallowed halls of the Imperial Council and the Divan Room, where the destinies of empires were shaped. Marvel at the intricate designs of the Harem, a realm veiled in secrecy, where the whispers of sultans and concubines linger in the air.

Admire the treasures within the Palace Museum, where jewels, manuscripts, and artifacts narrate tales of the Ottoman legacy. The breathtaking views from the terrace reveal the mesmerizing panorama of the Bosphorus, adding another layer of grandeur to your experience.

Explore the kitchens, the heart of the palace's culinary excellence, and envision the lavish feasts that once graced the tables of Ottoman sultans. As you wander through the Sword Room and the Chamber of Holy Relics, feel the spiritual aura that permeates these sacred spaces.

Immerse yourself in the imperial ambiance of the audience chambers, where the sultans held court. The Circumcision Room and the Baghdad Pavilion unveil unique insights into the lives of Ottoman rulers.

As your journey concludes, relish a moment of tranquility in the palace gardens, where the scent of blooming flowers mingles with the whispers of the past. Savor the echoes of a bygone era, where the regal spirit of the Ottoman Empire still lingers.

Topkapı Palace is not merely a destination; it's a passage through time, a chronicle of imperial magnificence that leaves an indelible mark on the soul of every traveler.

4 - A cruise on the Bosphorus

A cruise on the Bosphorus, Istanbul, Turkey

Enchanting Bosphorus Cruise: A Journey Between Two Continents

Embark on an enchanting cruise along the Bosphorus, the iconic strait that separates Europe from Asia. This experience offers a unique perspective of magnificent Istanbul and its rich heritage. Here's a thematic description for your upcoming adventure:

Your cruise begins in the shadow of Istanbul's minarets, where the blue sky blends with the sparkling waters of the Bosphorus. Onboard, the gentle lapping of waves and the enchanting panorama create an atmosphere of tranquility.

Historical palaces, such as Dolmabahçe Palace and Topkapı Palace, stand majestically along the shores, narrating tales of opulence and power. Admire the architectural details as you glide past these historical gems.

The Bosphorus Bridge, connecting Europe to Asia, looms on the horizon, symbolizing the union of two continents. Inhale the fresh air and take in the unique perspective from the decks of the cruise.

The delicate minarets of Istanbul's mosques rise against the sky, creating a spectacular backdrop at sunset. The horizon lights up, revealing a magical Istanbul where the ancient and the modern seamlessly blend.

Indulging in a delicious Turkish meal onboard adds a culinary touch to your escapade. Sample local flavors as the Bosphorus becomes the stage for a dance of lights, creating an unforgettable ambiance.

Finally, the Anadolu Kavağı lighthouse marks the climax of your cruise. There, on the deck, gaze at the twinkling stars above, creating a celestial map to accompany your return to the quay.

A Bosphorus cruise is not just a maritime excursion; it's a journey through history, culture, and the visual splendor of a city that unites continents and civilizations.

5 - The Princes Islands

The Princes Islands, Istanbul, Turkey

The Princes' Islands: A Tranquil Retreat off Istanbul's Shores

The Princes' Islands, scattered in the Marmara Sea off the coast of Istanbul, form a captivating archipelago.

Büyükada, the largest among them, charms with its picturesque alleys, colorful wooden houses, and lush gardens. The Aya Yorgi church, perched atop, offers breathtaking views. The use of traditional phaetons adds a nostalgic touch to exploring the island.

Tranquil streets invite relaxing strolls, while beaches provide moments of serenity. Smaller islands, such as Heybeliada and Kınalıada, reveal their charm with historic churches and hiking trails. Seaside restaurants offer exquisite Mediterranean and Aegean cuisine.

Spirituality permeates the Aya Yorgi monastery on Büyükada. Ferries provide a picturesque connection between these preserved islands and the bustling metropolis.

An escape to the Princes' Islands promises an enchanted interlude, where history, nature, and tranquility harmoniously converge.

6 - The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul: A Labyrinth of Cultural Treasures

The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, one of the largest covered markets globally, is an unforgettable sensory experience. Immerse yourself in this cultural labyrinth where history, tradition, and commerce intertwine. Here's a thematic description for your exploration:

At the entrance of the Grand Bazaar, monumental gates welcome you to a world of colors and aromas. The bustling of merchants and the scent of spices create an enchanting ambiance.

Wander through the narrow passages of the bazaar, where ancient and modern shops coexist. From handwoven carpets to copper lanterns, each stall offers a mosaic of artisanal treasures.

Vibrant fabrics, sparkling jewelry, and delicate ceramics captivate the eyes at every turn. Merchants, skilled in negotiation, invite you to partake in the age-old art of bargaining.

The market is filled with traditional coffee shops called "kahvehane," where you can savor strong Turkish coffee while observing the hustle and bustle of the bazaar.

Head towards the Treasury, where antiques, ancient jewelry, and unique art objects await discovery. Each piece tells a rich and fascinating story.

The Rustem Pasha Mosque, located nearby, offers a spiritual respite amidst this bustling bazaar. Its magnificent architecture and tranquil ambiance create a harmonious contrast.

Finally, as you exit the bazaar, carry with you unique mementos that embody the cultural richness of Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar is more than a market; it's a journey through eras and traditions, an immersion into the heart of Turkish life.

7 - Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar)

Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar), Istanbul, Turkey

The Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar): A Sensory Feast in the Heart of Istanbul

The Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, is a sensory oasis that captivates visitors with its enchanting aromas, vibrant colors, and lively atmosphere. Here's a thematic description to guide you through this culinary experience:

At the entrance of the Spice Bazaar, the dance of merchants and the profusion of colors immediately immerse you in a world where spices reign supreme. Stalls overflow with bags in dazzling hues, each containing an aromatic treasure.

Stroll through the narrow aisles where pyramids of exotic products catch the eye. From spices to dried fruits, perfumed teas to traditional candies, each stall offers a unique tasting experience.

Take a deep breath to soak in the intoxicating spice blends, such as cumin, cinnamon, and saffron, creating an olfactory symphony that awakens the senses.

Don't miss the stalls dedicated to Turkish delights like lokum, halva, and candied fruits. Welcoming vendors often offer tastings to tantalize your palate.

Explore the section of handicrafts, from colorful ceramics to copper lanterns, for authentic souvenirs infused with Turkish craftsmanship.

Views of the Bosphorus add a picturesque dimension to the Spice Bazaar. Take the time to sit in one of the terrace cafes, savoring a Turkish coffee while admiring the panorama.

As you leave, carry with you an assortment of exotic spices, sweet treats, or handmade items to prolong the memory of this culinary adventure.

The Spice Bazaar is more than a market; it's a celebration of flavors and traditions, an immersive experience in the heart of Istanbul's rich culture.

8 - Galata Tower

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey

Galata Tower: A Majestic Icon in Istanbul's Sky

The Galata Tower, proudly standing on the northern shore of the Golden Horn, offers breathtaking views of Istanbul and bears witness to the city's fascinating history. Here's a thematic description to immerse you in this majestic icon:

1. Architectural Grandeur: Dominating Istanbul's skyline, the Galata Tower rises with elegance, blending medieval architecture with an imposing presence. Its high stone walls and conical spire make it a recognizable symbol of the city.

2. Historical Significance: Built in the 14th century by the Genoese, the tower has served various functions over the centuries, acting as a strategic observation point and even a control tower for fires.

3. Panoramic Views: Brave visitors can ascend the narrow spiral staircase of the tower, rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view from the top. Iconic domes, minarets, and the bustling shores of Istanbul stretch as far as the eye can see.

4. Twilight Illumination: At twilight, the Galata Tower lights up, creating an impressive silhouette against the sky. It's a must-see spectacle, whether viewed from the nearby bridge or the cobbled streets of the surrounding neighborhood.

5. Quaint Cafés and Tranquil Breaks: The surroundings of the tower host charming cafes, inviting visitors to take a tranquil break. Enjoy a Turkish coffee or a local pastry while admiring this iconic monument.

9 - Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Süleymaniye Mosque: An Architectural and Spiritual Masterpiece of Istanbul

Perched on one of Istanbul's hills, the Süleymaniye Mosque embodies the architectural and spiritual grandeur of the city. Here's a thematic description to transport you through this iconic masterpiece:

1. Architectural Majesty: Dominating Istanbul's skyline, Süleymaniye Mosque stands out with its elegant domes, imposing minarets, and an impressive inner courtyard. Built in the 16th century by architect Sinan on the orders of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, it reflects the splendor of the Ottoman Empire.

2. Majestic Entrance: The majestic entrance of the mosque invites in-depth exploration. Finely decorated doors open onto a vast interior flooded with light through colorful stained glass that illuminates the prayer spaces.

3. Captivating Azulejos: Azulejos adorn the walls, creating a captivating ceramic tableau. Persian carpets cover the floor, inviting contemplation and prayer.

4. Sacred Elements: The mihrab, pointing towards Mecca, symbolizes the sacred direction of prayer. Next to it, the intricately carved minbar serves as a speaker's pulpit, attesting to the importance of the place in community life.

5. Expansive Gardens: The vast garden surrounding the mosque offers panoramic views of Istanbul, enticing visitors to stroll and meditate. The gardens are dotted with mausoleums, including that of Sultan Süleyman, creating a peaceful atmosphere.

6. Spiritual Harmony: Süleymaniye Mosque is more than a place of worship; it represents a harmonious balance between sublime architecture and spirituality. A visit promises immersion in Istanbul's exceptional cultural and religious heritage.**

10 - The Pierre Loti café

The Pierre Loti café, Istanbul, Turkey

Pierre Loti Café: A Poetic Hideaway on Istanbul's Heights

Perched on the hills of Istanbul, the Pierre Loti Café offers a picturesque getaway and pays homage to the French writer and traveler Pierre Loti. Here's a thematic description to transport you to this poetic retreat:

1. Timeless Refuge: Nestled on the heights of Istanbul, Pierre Loti Café is a timeless refuge. Accessible by cable car or a stroll through cobblestone streets, it provides a tranquil escape away from the city's hustle and bustle.

2. Panoramic Views: Named after the writer Pierre Loti, who was enamored with the beauty of Istanbul in the 19th century, the café offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Golden Horn. Shaded terraces invite you to savor a Turkish coffee while admiring Istanbul's skyline.

3. Nostalgic Ambiance: The café's walls are adorned with old photographs and memorabilia, creating a retro atmosphere reminiscent of the era when Pierre Loti found inspiration and serenity.

4. Cozy Seating: Visitors can settle into comfortable wicker chairs, peruse a book, or simply gaze at boats gliding on the glistening waters of the Golden Horn.

5. Romantic Twilight: At dusk, Pierre Loti Café transforms into a romantic spot bathed in the warm hues of Istanbul's sky. It's an ideal place to capture the poetic essence of the city.

6. Moments of Solitude or Romance: Whether for a moment of solitary contemplation or a romantic rendezvous, Pierre Loti Café offers a sensory and visual experience, paying homage to the eternal love between Pierre Loti and the magnificent Istanbul.

11 - Museums

Museums, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul Museums: A Captivating Dive into History and Culture

Istanbul is a city rich in history and culture, housing a multitude of fascinating museums. Here is a list of some must-visit museums in Istanbul:

  1. Istanbul Archaeology Museums (İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri): This museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, ancient sculptures, and archaeological treasures, providing a fascinating insight into the history of the city and its successive civilizations.

  2. Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya Müzesi): Formerly a basilica and then a mosque, Hagia Sophia now houses a museum showcasing Byzantine art, mosaics, and religious relics.

  3. Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi): This museum immerses visitors in Islamic art with collections including manuscripts, carpets, ceramics, and pieces of metalwork.

  4. Museum of Great Palace Mosaics (Büyük Saray Mozaikleri Müzesi): Located in the Istanbul Archaeological Park, this museum exhibits impressive Byzantine mosaics from the Great Palace of Constantinople.

  5. Naval Museum (Deniz Müzesi): Delve into Turkey's maritime history with a collection of ship models, navigation instruments, and artifacts related to the navy.

  6. Rahmi M. Koç Museum (Rahmi M. Koç Müzesi): Focused on industrial and technological history, this museum showcases antique vehicles, locomotives, airplanes, and other innovation-related objects.

  7. Museum of Innocence (Masumiyet Müzesi): Inspired by Orhan Pamuk's novel, this unique museum displays fictional objects from the book, providing an immersive experience into the writer's universe.

  8. Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (Istanbul Modern Sanat Müzesi): For contemporary art enthusiasts, this museum offers exhibitions by Turkish and international artists, along with a stunning view of the Bosphorus.

  9. Sakıp Sabancı Museum of Arts and Sciences (Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi): Nestled on the shores of the Bosphorus, this museum houses a rich collection of Turkish and international art, along with temporary exhibitions.

  10. Photography Museum of Innocence (Fotoğraf Hanesi Müzesi): For photography enthusiasts, this museum exhibits iconic works by Turkish and international photographers, tracing the evolution of this visual art.

Before visiting these museums, make sure to check opening hours and any potential restrictions, and prepare for an immersive exploration of Istanbul's history and cultural diversity.

12 - The Sultanahmet district

Sultanahmet District: A Historical Treasure of Istanbul

Sultanahmet, nestled in the heart of Istanbul, is an iconic district housing some of the city's most famous historical sites. Here's a thematic description of this historically rich neighborhood:

At the heart of bustling Istanbul, the Sultanahmet district stands as a time capsule, transporting visitors back to antiquity. Known as the Old City, this historic enclave is a treasure trove of iconic landmarks and local charm.

Sultanahmet, with its cultural mosaic, offers an immersive experience where the past and present harmoniously intersect. Whether for a historical stroll, shopping spree, or tasting local cuisine, this iconic district has something to offer every visitor.

13 - The Galata Bridge

The Galata Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey

The Galata Bridge is an iconic bridge located in Istanbul, Turkey. It spans the Golden Horn, a natural estuary formed by the confluence of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Here are some key details about the Galata Bridge:

  1. Location: The Galata Bridge connects the European and Asian quarters of Istanbul. It stretches between the Karaköy district on the European side and Eminönü on the side of the historic city.

  2. History: The bridge has a history dating back several centuries. The first wooden version was built in the 6th century during the Byzantine Empire. However, the current steel bridge was completed in 1994, measuring approximately 490 meters in length.

  3. Architecture: The Galata Bridge features a distinctive metal structure and is supported by multiple piers. It provides a spectacular view of the Golden Horn and the skyline of Istanbul, including landmarks such as the Galata Tower.

  4. Uses: Besides its function as a pedestrian and vehicular crossing, the Galata Bridge is also used for fishing activities. Many local fishermen gather on the bridge to fish in the Golden Horn.

  5. Nightlife: The bridge is also famous for its lively nightlife. The numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars located on the bridge and in its vicinity make it a popular spot for both locals and visitors.

  6. Galata Tower: At the European end of the bridge stands the Galata Tower, a medieval tower that offers a panoramic view of Istanbul from its top.

The Galata Bridge is not only a practical means of crossing the Golden Horn but has also become an iconic symbol of Istanbul, representing the connection between the two continents and different parts of the city.

14 - Istiklal Avenue

Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul, Turkey

Istiklal Avenue, a true gem of Istanbul, gracefully stretches for 1.4 km, connecting Taksim to Galata. As a vibrant pedestrian zone, it unfolds a panorama of shops, cafes, and art galleries. A historic tram traverses this thoroughfare, adding a nostalgic touch to its atmosphere. Its architecture, blending Ottoman, Neoclassical, and Art Nouveau styles, offers a captivating visual experience.

Street performers and events enrich the daily life of the cobblestone streets. As night falls, the avenue transforms into a hub of nightlife, with lively bars and clubs. Along the way, it guides visitors to the majestic Galata Tower, offering breathtaking views of the city.

As a must-visit shopping destination, it captivates with its diversity, ranging from international brands to local boutiques. Cultural institutions complete the experience, making its history a symbol of modernization and diversity in Istanbul.

In summary, Istiklal Avenue stands as an invitation to exploration, a vibrant testimony to the cultural effervescence of the city.

15 - Les quartiers de Bebek et Ortaköy

Les quartiers de Bebek et Ortaköy, Istanbul, Turkey


Bebek, nestled on the European side of Istanbul, is a tranquil coastal neighborhood renowned for its peaceful and residential atmosphere. Lined along the Bosphorus, it captivates with elegant seaside houses and tree-lined streets.

The coastal promenade offers picturesque views and hosts upscale cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. Bebek is cherished for its lively social scene, featuring trendy cafes and friendly spaces, especially on weekends. The neighborhood seamlessly blends traditional charm with modern elegance, creating a soothing ambiance.


Neighboring Bebek, Ortaköy is famed for its Friendship Bridge connecting Europe to Asia. Ortaköy's central square bustles with cafes, restaurants, craft shops, and the iconic Ortaköy Mosque. Every Sunday, the local market draws visitors with handmade crafts and culinary delights.

Ortaköy's nightlife is vibrant, with numerous bars, cafes, and clubs offering lively evening atmospheres. This district harmoniously blends history, culture, and modernity, making it a sought-after destination for both locals and tourists.

The architectural diversity, social activities, and panoramic Bosphorus views make Bebek and Ortaköy truly unique places to explore in Istanbul.

16 - The Balat district

The Balat district, Istanbul, Turkey

The Balat neighborhood is a historic district in Istanbul, Turkey. It is located in the Fatih district on the western shore of the Golden Horn, and it is known for its ancient charm, narrow streets, and colorful houses.

Here are some points of interest and features of the Balat neighborhood:

  1. History: Balat has a rich history dating back to the Byzantine era. The neighborhood has hosted various communities over the centuries, including Jews, Greeks, and Armenians. This cultural diversity is reflected in the architecture and traditions of the area.

  2. Colorful Houses: Balat's houses are often painted in bright colors, creating a cheerful and picturesque atmosphere. The colorful facades have become iconic for the neighborhood.

  3. Churches and Synagogues: Balat is home to several historic churches and synagogues. Among them, the Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars is one of the most famous.

  4. Street Art: The neighborhood is also known for its street art. Walls are often adorned with graffiti and murals, adding to Balat's bohemian aesthetic.

  5. Balat Market: The local market in Balat provides an authentic experience where you can explore the daily life of the residents, buy local products, and taste Turkish specialties.

  6. Cafés and Restaurants: Balat is filled with small cafes and charming restaurants where you can enjoy local cuisine while soaking in the unique atmosphere of the neighborhood.

  7. Scenic Walks: The narrow streets and staircases of Balat invite picturesque walks. You can explore the neighborhood on foot to discover its hidden treasures.

In summary, the Balat neighborhood in Istanbul is a place full of charm, history, and cultural diversity, offering visitors a unique experience within the Turkish metropolis.

17 - Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

The Dolmabahçe Palace, located in Istanbul, Turkey, was built in the 19th century as the official residence of the Ottoman sultans. Construction began in 1843 and was completed in 1856. This imposing palace, blending Ottoman, neoclassical, and baroque architectural styles, reflects the artistic evolution of the time.

Stretching along the Bosphorus Strait, the palace offers spectacular panoramic views. Notable features include the Grand Imperial Staircase, the Ceremonial Hall adorned with ceramic tiles, and the sumptuous Throne Room housing a crystal throne gifted by Queen Victoria.

The extensive, well-maintained gardens add to the elegance of the site. After the establishment of the Turkish Republic, the palace served as the presidential residence until 1944. A portion of the palace is now open to the public as a museum, allowing visitors to explore its opulent rooms and learn more about Turkey's history. A true symbol of Ottoman opulence, the Dolmabahçe Palace provides a captivating journey into the glorious past of the Ottoman Empire.

18 - The Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

The Basilica Cistern, located in Istanbul, is an underground cistern built in the 6th century under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, as part of Constantinople's water supply system.

Measuring 138 meters in length and 65 meters in width, the cistern is supported by 336 columns, some featuring upside-down or sideways Medusa heads, likely reused from older structures.

With a storage capacity of around 80,000 cubic meters of water, it served as a water reservoir for the Great Palace. Although it lost its original function over time, a small amount of water is still present, adding to its mystical atmosphere.

Also known as the "Cistern of Justinian" and the "Great Cistern," this historical site is located in Sultanahmet, near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, making it easily accessible for visitors.

Tourists can admire artificial lighting effects creating a unique ambiance and participate in guided tours to learn more about the fascinating history and architecture of the Basilica Cistern.

19 - Hammams

Hammams, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul's hammams, steeped in history and tradition, offer a unique cultural experience to visitors. The Hammam de Çemberlitaş, one of the oldest near the Grand Bazaar, showcases remarkable Ottoman architecture. In Sultanahmet, the Hammam de Sultanahmet combines modernity and authenticity, providing a haven of relaxation after exploring the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

On the Asian side, the Hammam de Cağaloğlu in Kadıköy charms with its architectural allure, offering visitors an enriching cultural immersion. In Süleymaniye, the Hammam de Süleymaniye provides a soothing experience, complemented by a panoramic view of the city from the nearby mosque.

Maintaining respect for traditions, such as wearing a robe, is crucial when visiting these hammams. Visitors can also enjoy free time to explore the surrounding neighborhoods, taste local cuisine, and delve further into Turkish culture. Staying in historic districts enhances the authenticity of this experience, creating a balanced itinerary between history, relaxation, and local exploration.

Istanbul - Where to Stay?

Choosing accommodation in Istanbul depends largely on individual preferences, planned activities, and budget. Here are some popular neighborhoods that offer different aspects of the city, catering to various types of travelers:

  1. Sultanahmet: This district is the historic heart of Istanbul, home to iconic sites such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. It is ideal for history and culture enthusiasts, providing an authentic atmosphere and proximity to many tourist attractions.

  2. Beyoglu / Taksim: If you prefer urban buzz, trendy shops, restaurants, and nightlife, Beyoglu, especially around Taksim Square, is the place to be. It's a more modern and cosmopolitan area.

  3. Karaköy: Located between Sultanahmet and Beyoglu, Karaköy is undergoing transformation. It blends the old and the new with contemporary art galleries, stylish cafes, and stunning views of the sea.

  4. Eminönü: Close to the Galata Bridge, Eminönü offers a dynamic atmosphere with its Spice Bazaar and ferries crossing the Bosphorus. It's an excellent choice for those who want to be in the heart of urban activity.

  5. Besiktas: A popular residential area, Besiktas provides a relaxed atmosphere while being close to some sites like Dolmabahçe Palace. It's also a great starting point for exploring other parts of the city.

  6. Kadikoy: Located on the Asian side of Istanbul, Kadikoy is a lively district with a more local feel. It offers excellent nightlife, vibrant markets, and a variety of restaurants.

It's recommended to consider your personal preferences, planned activities, and budget when choosing accommodation in Istanbul. Whether it's for history, nightlife, or local authenticity, the city offers a range of neighborhoods to suit different tastes.

Istanbul - How to get around?

Getting around Istanbul is relatively easy thanks to a diverse transportation network. Here are some popular modes of transportation in the city:

  1. Metro and Tram: Istanbul has a metro and tram network that serves various neighborhoods in the city. The tram, in particular, is convenient for visiting tourist sites such as Sultanahmet, where the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are located.

  2. Bus: Buses are an economical means of getting around the city, covering a wide range of routes and often used by locals to reach less touristy areas.

  3. Boats and Ferries: With the Bosphorus running through the city, ferries provide a picturesque way to travel between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. They also offer beautiful views of the skyline.

  4. Dolmus: These are shared minibusses that follow fixed routes. They are a flexible option for short trips and can be stopped on demand.

  5. Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Istanbul. Make sure the driver activates the meter at the beginning of the trip or negotiate a fare before getting into the taxi.

  6. Car Rental: If you want to explore the city at your own pace, car rental is an option. However, keep in mind that traffic in Istanbul can be dense, and parking can be challenging.

  7. Uber: Uber is also available in Istanbul and can provide a convenient alternative to traditional taxis.

  8. Walking: Many of Istanbul's tourist sites are located close to each other, especially in neighborhoods like Sultanahmet. Walking can be a pleasant way to explore the city, especially in historic areas.

In summary, Istanbul offers a range of transportation options for efficient movement around the city and exploring different neighborhoods. The choice of transportation depends on your destination, schedule, and personal preferences.

Istanbul - Best period

Istanbul, Turkey, is a fascinating city with a rich history, impressive architecture, and a vibrant culture. The best time to visit Istanbul depends on your preferences regarding climate and activities.

  1. Spring (April to June): This period is often considered one of the best times to visit Istanbul. The temperatures are pleasant, gardens are in bloom, and weather conditions are generally stable.

  2. Autumn (September to November): Temperatures remain pleasant during the fall, and there is less crowd compared to the peak summer season. It's also a suitable time for exploring the city.

  3. Summer (July to August): Summer months can be hot in Istanbul, with high temperatures. However, if you enjoy the warmth and want to take advantage of summer festivals and events, it's a good time. Expect higher tourist crowds during this period.

  4. Winter (December to February): Winter temperatures can be cool, and Istanbul may experience precipitation. However, if you don't mind the cold and want to avoid crowds, it's a viable option. Additionally, the winter atmosphere can be charming, especially during the holiday season.

In summary, spring and autumn generally offer an ideal balance between pleasant temperatures and moderate tourist crowds. However, the best time depends on your personal preferences regarding climate and activities.

Last update : 26/05/2024 15:37

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