What to explore in Istanbul as a tourist?

Covid-19 global pandemic has affected the whole world. The crowd in Istanbul left its place to silence. But Istanbul is always beautiful, always enjoyable. Because now the streets are yours. Because Istanbul is still attractive not only with its museums, but also with its historical buildings, colorful streets, fascinating view of the Bosphorus, and lots of outdoor activities. What can you do as a tourist? Here are the details.

You Are Not Alone, History Is With You

Old Istanbul completely surrounds you. Therefore, it is correct to call this city an “open-air museum”. Moreover, every place you want to visit is completely free and magnificent. So where can you get around?

1. Eminönü

Eminönü is located in the west of the Golden Horn. When millions of tourists come to Istanbul, they first come to Eminönü. When it comes to shopping and souvenirs, the first places that come to mind are Eminönü and the Grand Bazaar. There are jewelers and jewelry stores here. There are so many varieties in the Grand Bazaar that if you are looking for jewelry, you will definitely find it here. You can cook Turkish food when you return home after you buy the spices that are sold outdoors at the entrance of the Spice Bazaar. Yeni Cami looks great from the outside. You can walk around the square around the mosque and take beautiful photos. You can watch the fish in the sea while walking on the beach. From here, you can walk to Sirkeci and see the historical train station. Almost all of the buildings in this region have historical buildings and various architectural features.



2. Sirkeci Train Station

Built by a German architect during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit II, the train station combined the Ottoman style with the European style. In the station building, it is possible to catch a piece from every period of history. Its walls are made of ordered stones and bricks. Its gate contains an architectural style from the Seljuk period. The windows are made in accordance with Islamic architecture, with arches in the shape of a horseshoe. Even examining every detail separately fascinates its visitors.

3. Galata Bridge

Galata Bridge, one of the most important symbols of Istanbul, connects Eminönü and Karaköy at the entrance of the Golden Horn. Its length is 490 meters. You can see the magnificent view of the Golden Horn. The sparkling Golden Horn view you will see after dark is also very impressive.

4. Gülhane Park

Welcome to one of Istanbul’s most beautiful parks. This is a rose garden established to grow roses in the Topkapı Palace during the Ottoman Empire period. In fact, calling it a “garden” would be underestimated, this is a huge park. There are gardens, flowers, and ornamental pools in the park. You can visit everywhere, if you want, you can have a picnic by laying a cover on the grass.

5. Galata Tower

It was built firstly built in 528 as a lighthouse tower. While wars, earthquakes, and fires almost completely destroyed the tower, it was repaired in 1348. While it was being repaired, we can say that it was rebuilt with piled stones. It was the tallest building in the city at that time. It was raised further in 1445. Galata tower was used as a lantern tower. It was used as a shelter for prisoners of war in the 16th century, later as an observatory, and later as a fire station. The streets of the tower are also full of historical textures.


6. Maiden’s Tower

Nowhere else is the pleasure of sitting on the coast and watching the Maiden’s Tower in Üsküdar. The tower has fabulous legends. Its history goes back 2500 years ago. Istanbulites think that the Maiden’s Tower and Galata Tower feel in love for each other. They wrote letters to each other, but they did not know each other’s love. One day, the letter written by Galata reached the Maiden’s Tower. While both thought their love was unrequited, they understood that they lived for each other. So they promised to stay alive forever. That’s why they both shine brilliantly after the sun goes down. Don’t believe it, go see it!

7. Garipçe Village and Rumeli Lighthouse

Rumeli Lighthouse is a 30 meters tall lighthouse located 58 meters above sea level. The aim of the lighthouse is that warships can easily pass from the Bosphorus to the Black Sea. With its white light, it gives light up to 18 nautical miles today. Inside the lantern is the mausoleum of a man highly valued by the locals. Known as Saltuk Dede, this shrine is a place where fishermen stop by and pray before going out to sea. Its historical texture and unique view fascinate people. While coming here, stop by Emirgan Grove on the way. On your way back, go to the Atatürk Arboretum.


8. Emirgan Grove

It is one of the centers of the tulip festival held every April. Emirgan Grove, from the moment you enter, takes you away from the city and takes you to a completely different world. It is a place where you can have a picnic over the Bosphorus view as it has clean air and a magnificent atmosphere. There are 3 mansions in the grove. It is also possible to have tea and eat something in these mansions. It doesn’t matter if the mansions are closed, the park is an ideal place to visit. You can see squirrels going down from the trees looking for acorns. You can walk on the hiking trail and exercise in the fresh air. All this in the open and fresh air. Don’t miss out!


9. Atatürk Arboretum

If you like nature and greenery, you should go to the Arboretum, which is open every day except Mondays. A huge tree museum spread over an area of 296 hectares. There are some rules here: It is forbidden to bring food. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed. Drones and similar items are also prohibited. Even if it has fallen to the ground, it is not desired to collect seeds, flowers and leaves. This place should be visited as a museum. Bicycle, kite type game items are also not required. You pay at the entrance. However, 21 March is Forestry Day and you can enter for free on that day. You can see more than 1500 plant species together.

10. Fortresses

Yedikule Fortress is one of the oldest open-air museums in Istanbul. This place is also known as Yedikule Dungeons. It was built to be a magnificent structure that would welcome guests from kings and foreign palaces. At its entrance was a golden gate built by Theodosius. His sons, who took the throne after Theodosius, united the castle, which consists of four high observation towers, with the gate. After Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul, he had three more towers added to the building. Thus, its name was changed to Yedikule (Seven Towers). Each tower has a name and a story.

11. Streets in Istanbul

Not only the architectural buildings of Istanbul, even the streets are fascinating. Merdivenli Yokus in Balat, French Street in Beyoğlu, Serdar-ı Ekrem Street in Galata, Bademaltı Street in Moda and many more. Especially Serdar-ı Ekrem Street is a street lined with historical buildings on both sides and there is a magnificent view of Galata Tower right in front of you. While wandering around Balat, you will love not only the Merdivenli Yokus but also the Vodina Street. You will see the Fener Greek Patriarchate at the end of the street. Uryanizade Sokak in Kuzguncuk is worth seeing with its Ottoman style, wooden houses with bay windows.


Nisa Civelek

Based on Istanbul but always a traveller.

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