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"The Hagia Sophia enjoyed the status as the largest cathedral in the world for almost a thousand years after it was built, til 1850"
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Home - Places to visit in Istanbul

Places to visit in Istanbul

Istanbul is considered to be the best known city in Turkey, and is undoubtedly one of Europe's most fantastic places for a perfect getaway. Most suitable for travelers as a city that affords a great amount of scope for sight seeing as well as shopping, it's exotic location and warm weather conditions make it an ideal place for a perfect getaway.

Istanbul enjoys a mixed Asian and European influence that is very much unique to the place. It is also a city that is extremely rich in both ancient and modern architecture, and can literally be a paradise for the tourists. There are various historical places in Istanbul, and visiting them and getting to know their history can be a source of real joy to the traveler.

One of the main architectural wonders that have withstood the ravages of time is the Hagia Sophia or the Ayasofya as known in Turkish. It was originally built as a Christian Church by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who spared no expensed during its construction and it, remained the world's largest cathedral for almost a thousand years after its construction. Later, during the period of the Ottoman rule, it was converted to a mosque, resulting in the covering up of the Christian traits and adding along several Islamic features like the minars, miharabs etc. The Hagia Sophia is renowned for its awe inspiring dome, and the magnificent murals on its walls which really transport you to the bygone ages, has been converted into a museum since Turkey became a republic.

The Sultanahmet Mosque or the Blue Mosque is another place that is worth seeing in Istanbul. It is a great architectural structure with its six towering minarets. It is said that the Blue mosque came to be called thus due to the blue tiles that are to be seen inside. This is a very large architectural structure with an impressive dome and ancient stained glass windows and is a must for the ardent traveler.

The Topkapi Palace has housed the various emperors of the Ottoman Empire for more than three hundred years. Its main attraction is the magnificent courts, four in number, which are grandly decorated. It houses the state treasury, and the Imperial treasury, and also holds a magnificent display of precious gems, and jeweled daggers. The fourth court that overlooks the Bosphorus, affords a spectacular view to the onlooker.

Another place that is a must-see is the Basilica Cistern, which is a giant underground cistern that was created by Justinian during the Byzantine period to facilitate access of water to the people of the city. This place is worth visiting and you can walk through the pillared and lighted wooden walkway with some piped music to bring in an atmosphere.

Other major areas of interest, especially for tourists, are the Hippodrome, which was a part of history, the Galata Whirling Dervish Hall, a dancing hall converted into the Museum of Divan Literature, The museum of Archeology which houses a collection of Sumerian tablets, the Chora Church that is a thousand years old and which houses some priceless mosaic frescos, etc. The Grand Bazaar is another experience which the souvenir shopper in you might really enjoy. So do make sure to include it in your sight seeing plans.

A pleasure trip to Istanbul would feel like being in two different continents amidst two different cultures at the same time. It is also an ideal vacation spot for history and architecture enthusiasts who really appreciate the marvels of ancient architecture. A comparatively inexpensive place, Istanbul may just be the perfect getaway from the daily grind of the big bad city life.

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