Sightseeing in Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, forming the country's economic, cultural, and historical heart. With a population of 13.5 million, the city is at the center of the second-largest metropolitan area in Europe and among the world's largest cities by population within city limits.

Istanbul sits between Asia and Europe and is a bit of both. Impressions of the West and East, past and present, riches and rags are tough to tell apart when you have completed this mad whirl. Mosaics, mosques, minarets, museums and many more memories of Istanbul's dalliance with history brings thousands of tourists every year to its shores. 2000 years of being capital to Christian and Islamic empires and retaining impressions of both, Istanbul is a confusing city.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Istanbul is in the spring which runs from April to June or in the autumn months from September through November. The weather is very pleasant at these times with temperatures remaining in the range of a cool 10-20 degrees Centigrade.

What To See

Istanbul’s variety fascinates its visitors because one gets to see the remnants of three empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. The museums, churches, palaces, great mosques, bazaars and sights of natural beauty seem inexhaustible.

Museums: Located within the gardens of the Yildiz Palace is the City Museum that preserves the history of Istanbul since the Ottoman conquest. The gorgeous Chora Church near the Edirnekapi (Adrianople Gate) is a Byzantine building with beautiful 14th century mosaics. It was converted into a mosque and is now a museum.

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art holds a superb collection of ceramics, metalwork, miniatures, calligraphy, textiles, woodwork and some of the oldest carpets in the world. This was the residence to Ibrahim Pasa, Grand Vizier to Suleyman the Magnificent, and built in 1524. It is the grandest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire.

Palaces: The Topkapi Palace that was a residence of the Turkish sultans from 15th century to early 18th century is a must for you. It is a collection of gardens, houses and libraries and a harem with 400 rooms.

If the opulence and sheer grandeur of the Sultans’ lifestyle and residences interest you, here are a few more palaces – Beylerbeyi Palace, Yildiz Palace, Goksu Palace, the Ihlamur Pavilion, the Merasim Pavilion, the Maslak Pavilion and the Florya Ataturk Sea Pavilion.

Mosques:Considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in Istanbul, the Suleymaniye Mosque was built between 1550 and 1557 by Sinan, the renowned architect of the Ottoman golden age. On the crest of a hill, this building dominates the skyline.

The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii) built by Sultan Ahmet,1609-1616, is very delicate, in comparison to the Aya Sofya, and splendid with its combination of harmony, proportion and elegance. Its interior gleams with a magnificent paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles.

The great Mosque of Eyup lies outside the city walls, near the Golden Horn, at the supposed place where Eyup, the standard bearer of Prophet Mohammed, died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in 670 AD. This is a shrine of pilgrimage for the Muslims and is the first mosque built in the Ottoman era.

Monuments: The Obelisk of Theodosius is an Egyptian column from the temple of Karnak, resting on a Byzantine base. The hieroglyphics that are 3500 years old are very clear even now. Obelisk of Constantine Porphyrogenitus was earlier covered with bronze that was stolen from it by the Crusaders.

The Hippodrome (Atmeydani) the scene of the ancient chariot races and where the Byzantine riots occurred, is in front of the Blue Mosque. It was started in 203 AD and was enlarged by Constantine.

Sarah is an article writer whose major area of focus is travel where she shares lots of travel information. In this article she is sharing information regarding what to see in Istanbul, Turkey. To enjoy Holiday in Istanbul please visit www.myistanbul.co.uk.

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