Standing between East and West and steeped in ravishing magnificence, Istanbul is a marvellous city of great heritage. A myriad of different cultures and histories coexist in its palaces, cathedrals, basilicas, mosques, ancient bazaars and historical ruins. As a consequence there is so much to see and do. So to help you plan your visit we’ve compiled a list of the 5 top tourist attractions Istanbul has to offer.
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1. Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia is an architectural wonder which has remained standing for hundreds of years. Since its construction in AD 537, it has served both as a church and mosque at different times, to the East Roman Empire, Byzantium, and Ottoman Empire. It has an important place in the history of mankind and boasts fascinating architecture along with artistic and cultural significance. Today it is open to visitors as a museum.
Open Hours: 09:00 – 17:00, Mondays 09:00 – 19:00
Location: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone Number: (0212) 522 17 50
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2. Galata Tower
The Galata Tower is one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions offering splendid views over the city. When it was reconstructed in 1348 it was the tallest building in Istanbul. Today it remains one of the city’s tallest buildings and is Istanbul’s oldest tower. Built as a lighthouse by Byzantines in around CE 507 and restored by the Genoese in 1348 as a defense tower, today, it’s open to all visitors and includes a café, restaurant, and a variety of interesting sections to visit.
Open Hours: 09:00 – 20:30
Location: Bereketzade, Galata Kulesi Sk., 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
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3. Blue Mosque
Built between 1609 and 1616 the Blue Mosque, is a building of huge historical significance. To this day it serves as an active house of worship. Its name arises from Sultan Ahmed who was the emperor during the time of its construction. It’s one of Istanbul’s best-known attractions and a visit is highly recommended.
Open Hours: 24/7
Location: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone Number: (0212) 458 44 68
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4. Grand Bazaar
No visit to Istanbul is complete without experiencing The Grand Bazaar. Expanded and reconstructed by Mehmet II as a centre for economic trade after the conquest of the city.
Open Hours: 08:00 – 19:00
Location: Beyazıt, Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul
Phone Number: (0212) 519 12 48
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5. Basilica Cistern / Sunken Palace
The Basilica Cistern, also known as the Sunken Palace is on every list of “Istanbul must-see attractions”. This historical structure was built to provide the water supply for the Byzantium palace. It was used for similar purposes by the Ottoman Empire. It is now among the most popular Istanbul tourist attractions and is open to all national and international visitors.
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You can also view our 5 Top Tourist Attractions in Istanbul Foursquare List.