Istanbul, Turkey, has a rich history that is reflected in its old town, known as the Historic Peninsula or Sultanahmet. This area is home to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and offers a glimpse into its ancient past. Here are a few notable attractions in Istanbul’s old town:
- Hagia Sophia: Originally a Byzantine church and later converted into a mosque, Hagia Sophia is now a museum. It is renowned for its stunning architecture, including its massive dome, intricate mosaics, and impressive interior.
- Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque): Known for its exquisite blue tiles that adorn its interior, the Blue Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks. It is still an active mosque and welcomes visitors outside of prayer times.
- Topkapi Palace: Once the residence of Ottoman sultans, Topkapi Palace offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman Empire. The palace complex houses museums displaying artifacts, including treasures, weapons, and Islamic relics.
- Basilica Cistern: An ancient underground water reservoir, the Basilica Cistern features columns, arches, and dimly lit pathways. It’s a unique atmospheric space that has been featured in movies like “From Russia with Love” and “Inferno.”
- Grand Bazaar: Located in the heart of the old town, the Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. It offers a vast array of shops selling spices, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and more.
- Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar): Another bustling market, the Spice Bazaar is famous for its colorful displays of spices, Turkish delights, teas, and dried fruits. It’s a great place to experience the aromatic flavors of Istanbul.
- Suleymaniye Mosque: Built by the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, Suleymaniye Mosque is an architectural masterpiece and the largest mosque in Istanbul. It offers stunning panoramic views of the city from its courtyard.
- Hippodrome of Constantinople: Once a chariot-racing track, the Hippodrome was the social and sporting center of Constantinople (now Istanbul). Today, it houses a few monuments, including the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Serpentine Column.
These are just a few highlights of Istanbul’s old town. Exploring the area on foot allows you to soak up the historical ambiance and discover hidden gems along its winding streets.