The most populous city in Turkey is Istanbul and this city was also known as Constantinople and Byzantium in the past. Istanbul is considered a transcontinental city, because it is in both Europe and Asia.
This city was originally founded as Byzantium around 660 B.C. and then was renamed as Constantinople in 330 B.C.
Constantinople served as an imperial capital for nearly sixteen centuries and the city was crucial to the advancement of Christianity in the area.
Since 1950, the number of people living in the city has increased tremendously and more than twelve million tourists join the locals throughout the year.
Must-See Attractions in Istanbul
The Blue Mosque is known as the Sultanahmet Camii to the locals and it is the number one destination for many of the tourists that visit the city.
The multitude of domes, semi domes, and narrow towers are quite the sight to see, which is what Sultan Ahmed I wanted to achieve when he built the mosque during the early 1600s.
This mosque can be found in Fatih, which is where many other must-see attractions are located. The mosque is open around the clock, but closes for prayers six times each day.
Hagia Sophia Museum
This museum offers history, spectacular inside views, and amazing architecture, and it has been that way since the time it was built between 532 and 537.
Before the building was a museum, it served as a church for practically one thousand years and then a mosque for almost five hundred years.
Inside the museum, people will find intricate Christian mosaics as well as Islamic calligraphy.
Topkapi Palace Museum
The Ottoman Sultans lived inside the Topkapi Palace between 1478 and 1856 and it became a museum in 1924 after the Ottoman empire came to an end.
Inside the museum, people will see weaponry, porcelain, cutlery, fabric collections, and multiple works of art.
It can take guests hours to see everything inside the museum and the most popular sections include the kitchens, calligraphy spots, and the armaments room.
The architecture of the building is magnificent and most people will want to walk through the stunning gardens prior to their departure.
One of the oldest and largest covered shopping markets in the world is the Grand Bazaar and it encompasses sixty streets.
There are more than five thousand shops inside the Grand Bazaar and each one has an enthusiastic vendor who wants to sell their items to every shopper without being too pushy.
People can purchase everything from clothing, carpets, and art work to chessboards and more while shopping at the Grand Bazaar.
There are even multiple restaurants and cafes there for anyone who gets hungry while walking around and people can even take a Turkish bath at one of the two hammams.
It is recommended that every shopper be prepared to barter over the prices, because people can often get the item for half the original asking price.
The shops at the market are open six days a week for ten hours each day, but people can stop by around the clock to walk the streets.
Taksim Square can be found in the Beyoglu District of Istanbul and it is filled with shops, bars, and restaurants.
One of the most prominent features of Taksim Square is the Taksim Republic Monument, which commemorates the creation of the Turkish Republic back in 1923.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums
There are more than three million artifacts on display within the three Istanbul Archaeological Museums. The three museums are the Archaeological Museum, the Ancient Oriental Museum, and the Tiled Kiosk Museum.
Included in the artifacts are three sarcophagi, Islamic coins, and a tomb monument from the first century.
The Galata Tower offers phenomenal panoramic views of Istanbul from the observation deck that was opened after a renovation took place during the 1960s.
A restaurant and night club are also located at the top of the tower and these two places are perfect for romantic evenings or spending time with friends.
Turkish cuisine is quite diverse, because it is a blend of multiple cultures. The result is food that tastes delicious and smells even better.
There are many local foods that a person should try while in Istanbul, but there are a few that no one should leave the city without eating.
Those foods include:
- Turkish Breakfast – A Turkish Breakfast is very different than breakfast in any other country. The breakfast includes tea, white bread, white cheese, old cheese, black and green olives, butter, thick cream, honey, jam, boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sucuklu yumurta, and bö
- Meze – Mezes are cold starters and are eaten instead of a full course. Some popular mezes include artichokes, pinto beans, mint yogurt dip, grilled eggplant salad, grilled eggplant with yogurt, chili tomato paste, and fried eggplant with tomato sauce.
- Lüfer – Lüfer is a type of fish from the Pomatomidae family and it is large, easy to clean, and quite tasty.
- Manti – Manti is a Turkish ravioli that is filled with ground beef or lamb as well as onions, salt, and pepper. It is served with cold yogurt and garlic.
Best Places to Eat in Istanbul
This restaurant specializes in mezes and the menu was created with sharing food with family and friends in mind.
Some of the most ordered mezes include duck dim sum, chicken satay, and grilled sardines in vine leaves.
Favorite after dinner drinks include the Bomb Baby, which is made with vodka, fresh watermelon, mint, and cardamom, and the Porn Star, which has Bacardi, citrus, and papaya in it.
Changa is one of the most elegant restaurants in Istanbul and many of the dishes use Turkish ingredients but are paired with Pacific Rim items.
Guests must try the olive oil braised kenger, grilled lamb chops with firik pilaf and harissa, and the Turkish coffee ice cream with biscotti and bitter almond liqueur.
The thirst quenching Pazzimoza cocktail is made from champagne, passionfruit juice, and orange juice.
This rooftop restaurant has an outdoor terrace and while the food is wonderful, the scenery is the best part of a visit there.
The menu is made up of international cuisine as well as traditional Turkish cuisine and the Sunday brunch has numerous traditional items available.
Istanbul is a city filled with different cultural events and many people will find that they will learn quite a bit about the culture of the locals as well as art, music, and film while they are visiting.
History is another important feature in the city and many of the popular attractions have been around for hundreds or thousands of years.
Both the history and cultural events are what brings the millions of tourists to Istanbul every year and the number of tourists will only continue to grow as more people decide that the city is a fantastic place to visit.