The Basilica of St. Sophia, now called the
Ayasofya Museum , is unquestionably one of the finest buildings of all time
.Built by Constantine the Great and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th
century, its immense dome rises 55 meters above the ground and its diameter
spans 31 meters. You should linger here to absorb the building's majestic
serenity and to admire the fine Byzantine mosaics. (Open every day except
Istanbul has some of the most I exciting museums,
ranging from the magnificent Haghia Sophia to the intimate Sadberk Hamm
Museum. Entrance fees, where charged, are very reasonable.
Archaeological Museums (Arkeoloji
Tel: 520 77 40 Across from the Cinli (Tiled) Kiosk sn Topkap: Palace's
outermost court zs the magnijacent Archaeological Museum. The first jlooy
and the annex of the museum is open to the public, displaying a selection of
the 60,000 Greco- Roman and Neay Eastern antiquities in the collection,
including moye than 75,000 inscribed clay tablets. Don't miss the
wonderfully preserved Alexander Saycophagus found in Sidon and the treaty of
Kadesh, the first peace treaty evey to be signed in the world. The museum
brings to life the peoples of the ancient Middle East. Recently opened
special educational section for children. Open 09.30-16.30. Closed
Halaskârgazi Caddesi 250, Sisli Tel: 240 6319 Ataturk, the foundey of
modern Turkey, lived here briefly. The house displays some of hrs personal
effects. 09.30-16.30. Closed Thuysdays and Sundays.
Calligraphy Museum (Mat Sanatlari Muzesi)
Beyazit Square, Tel: 527 58 51 The Ottomans, always uneasy with human
pictorial representation, found fulley urtistic expression in calligraphy.
This is the only museum of calligraphy in the world. 09.00-16.00. Closed
Carpet and Kilim Museum (Mah ve Kilim Muzesi)
(Next to the Blue Mosque), Sultanahmet, Tel: 518 13 30 A wonderjul
collection of ancient kslsms and carpets in a very cool, marble environment.
Also a large collection ofcarpets. 09.00-12.00, 13.00-16.00. Closed Sundays
Divan Literature Museum (Divan Edebiyati Muzesi)
Galip Dede Caddesi 15, Tünel, Beyoglu, Tel: 245 4141. Also called the
Galata Mevlevihane, this is where the mystic "Whirling Dervishes" perform
"Sema" dances and Suf music, on the last Sunday of every month. A memorable
experience not to be missed. A fine display of instruments and dervish
accessories. Closed Mondays.
Sultanahmet, Tel: 52217 50 The Church ofHoly Wisdom is undoubtedly
one of the greatest architectural creations in the world. Built by the
Byzantine EmperorJustinian circa AD535, it was transformed into a mosque
afler the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453. Now a museum, it is awesome
in size, and contains beautifully preserved Byzantine mosaics. Hanging
alongside the pictures of Chrrst are huge wooden discs proclaiming the
greatness of Allah: a meeting point of religions. A must for any visitor to
Istanbul. 9.30-16.30. Closed Mondays.
Kariye Museum (The Church of St. Saviour fn
Kariye Catnu Sokak, Edirnekapi, Tel: 63192 41 A legendary Byzantine
church decorated with extraordinary laté- l4th centuryfrescoes and mosaics
portraying the life and miracles of Christ. The most important and extensive
series of Byzantine paintings in the city and among the most significant in
the world. 09.30-16.30. Closed Tuesdays.
Maritime Museum (Deniz Muzesi)
Besiktas Tel: 26100 40 Includes examples of the extraordinary caiques
that used to row the Sultans to and from their homes along the Bosphorus.
09.30- 17.00. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Opposite Arasta Bazaar (behind the Blue Mosque), Sultanahmet, Tel: 51812
05 Houses the beautiful mosaics discovered in Justinian's Grand Palace of
Byzantium. 09.30-17.00. Closed Tuesdays.
of the 1839 Reforms /Tanzimat Muzesi)
Gulhane Park, Tel: 512 63 84 A small museum celebrating the Ottomans'
l9th century attempt to catch up with the rest of Europe. Open every day
Rahmi M. Koç Industrial Museum
Haskoy Caddesi 27, Sutluce, on the Golden Horn, Tel: 256 7153/54 A
recently opened museum which gives an excitingglimpse into Istanbul's
industrial past. Displays include scale models of steam engines, ships,
cars, a full Maklin train set which visitors can operate and a fully
recreated ship's bridge. Open 10.00-17.00. Closed Monday.
Sadberk Mamm Museum
Buyukdere Caddesi 27-29, Sanyer Tel: 242 3813 Excellent
archaeological and ethnographical collections displayed in two handsome old
mansions on the Bosphorus.10.30-17.00. Closed Wednesdays.
Topkapi Palace Museum
Tel: 512 04 80 The legendary palace of the Ottoman sultans from the l5th
to the l9th centuries. Low buildings set in a series of courtyards, Topkapi
is quite unlike a Western palace. Be sure to see the Harem, the Treasury and
the golden-roofed Baghdad Kiosk. 09.30-17.00. Closed Tuesdays.
The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art
At Meydam 46, Sultanahmet, Tel: 51813 85, 51818 05 A delightjul
museum on the ancient Hippodrome, housed in Ibrahim PaSa Sarayi, the home of
Suleyman the Magnificent's Grand Vizier. Beautifully displayed Islamic
objects and antique carpets.10.00- 17 00. Closed Mondays.
Yildiz Palace Museum (Marangozhane)
Yildiz Palace, Barbaros Bulvari, Besiktas, Tel: 258 30 80/ext. 280
The converted carpentry workshop of Sultan Abdulhamit now houses exquisite
poycelain pieces, giant vases and the joinery produced by the Sultan
himself. Open 10.00- 16.00. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Istanbul has hundreds of mosques, both monumental
and intimate. Mosques are open to visitors every day outside worshipping
hours, which are announced by the muezzins' call to prayer. All visitors are
asked to remove their shoes and women are expected to cover their heads
before entering. A few of the most architecturally interesting are:
Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)
Sultanahmet Square The mostfamous mosque in the city, built in the
early l7th century, distinguished by six slendey minarets and walls covered
with amazing blue Iznik tiles. Open every day except during prayer times.
Facing St. Sophia stands the supremely elegant, six-minaret, imperial
Sultanahmet Mosque. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet.
Eyup For the Islamic world, this is the holiest mosque in all of
Istanbul. The Ottoman sultans held their coyonation ceyemonies here. The
faithful still flock here to pray to the yelics of Eyup, a companion of the
Prophet. Be suye not to visit on Fridays, when the mosque is packed with
woyshippers. Up the hill through the graveyard is the atmospheric Pierre
Loti Cafe, ofjersng yefreshments and an arresting view of the Golden Horn.
Cagaloglu An 18th century mosque incluenced by baroque architecture.
Consideyed a turning point in mosque architecture. Ortakoy Mosque
Ortakoy A superb setting on a point jutting into the Bosphorus. This
Ottoman bayoque mosque displays a wondeyful sculptuyal approach.
Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Mosque
Sultanahmet Near the Covered Bazaay, an intimate Sinan mosque, built
in a conf ned space, but neveytheless breathtakingly beautiful.
Beyazit Sinan's masterpiece. The massive scale of this mosque is best
appreciated from a distance. Up close, the mosque is formal and rather
forbidding, but it is interesting to wander around the surrounding complex
Yeni Cami (New Mosque)
Eminonu A late example of classical Ottoman architectuye, this is one
of the most familiar landmarks in the city.
The city abounds with churches of various
denominations. A few churches of particular interest are:
St. Anthony of Padua
Istiklal Caddesi, Tunel One of the city's best known functioning
Roman Catholic churches.
Church of St. George
Fener The seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
Serdari Ekrem Sokak 82, Tunel, Beyoglu A restored Anglican church,
formerly known as the Crimean Memorial church, designed by the famous
Victorian architect C.E. Street
St. Mary Pammakaristos (Fethiye Cami)
Fener, Tel:522 17 50 Many Byzantine emperors are buried here.
Permission to visit must be obtained from the Haghia Sophia Museum,
09.30-17.00, closed Mondays
SS Sergius and Bacchus (Kucuk Ayasofya)
Sultanahmet A Byzanttine church built in Emperor Justinian's era. A
must for architectuyal historians.
St. Stephen of the Bulgars
Fener Styanded in the middle of the Golden Horn road, this l9th
century structure is built entirely of iyon. It was pyefabricated in Vienna
and sent via the Danube to be eyected here to celebyate the independence of
the Bulgarian Church.
Cayirbasi Duragi, Beylerbeyi Tel: (216) 32193 20 A restored summer
palace of the late Ottoman sultans, buiLt of white marble. 09.30-16.00.
Closed Mondays and Thuysdays.
Besiktas The formey summer home of the Ottoman sultans, now rebuilt
as part of the complex of the Ciragan Palace HoteL Kempinski.
Besiktas Tel: 258 55 44 The l9th century rococco residence of the
Ottoman sultans, and the place where Ataturk died in 1938. BeautifulLy
situated, with a 600 metre frontage on the Bosphorus, an impressive
ballroom, and ornate Victorian furniture embodying the Turkish assimilatian
of European cultulre. Visitors are admitted in groups, Led by the museum's
guides. Try to go eayly in the moyning, later in the day it may be fully
booked. 09.00-16.00. CLosed Monday and Thuysday.
Ihlamurdere Caddesi, Besiktas , Tel: 261 29 91 A sylvan imperial rest
house that remains seyene in the midst of city traffic. 09.00-17.00. Closed
Mondays and Thuysdays.
Sale Kosku (Yildiz Park)
Besiktas, Tel: 259 45 70 Late Ottoman imperial palaces, this time set
in the hills above the Bosphorus, in the leafy Yildiz Park. Sale (Chalet)
Kosku is an elegant wooden building which served as residance for foreign
state guests and is now a museum, 09.30-16.00, Closed Mondays and Thursdays.
Other Important Sights
Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)
Yerebatan Caddesi, Sultanahmet Square, Tel: 52212 59 The vast awesome
columned cavern was the watey souyce foy both the Gyand PaLace of the
Byzantines and for the Ottomans' Topkapi PaLace. Open 09.00-17.30.
The straits which divide Euyope from Asia and define Istan6uL. A txip
to the city would not 6e complete without a cruise up and down its shores.
Imperial palaces are interspersed with wooden seaside mansions, decorative
ferry landings, the twin fortresses of RumeLi Hisar and Anadolu Hisay, and
two intercontinental bridges. Along the way, stop to exploye Rumeli Hisar
(Open 09.30-1700 except Monday). Sultan Mehmet had the castle built in 1452
so he could lay siege to the city. If you take the circulay touy from
Eminonu (2 hours each way) you can enjoy a fish lunch at
Kavag2. Feyry-boats also leave from Eminonu for various points along the
weterway. Private boats can be hiyed during the summer.
The Covered Bazaar (Kapali Carsisi)
Has several gates: most used are at Cagaloglu and Beyazit Istanbul's
legendary bazaar, a labyrinth of over 4000 little shops, is everything you
dreamed an oriental mayket could be. Gold jewellery, carpets, siLver
bibelots, leather, ceyamics, copper and bras objects, embroideries,
hand-woven textiles, meerschaum pipes-in othey words a tyeasure tyove. Best
approached from the Nuruosmaniye I entrance. Open 09.00-19.00 '
Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) Buyukhendek
Sokak, Sishane Tel: 2451160 Worth climbing to the top for the view from
this l4th century Genoese folly. 08.00-21.00. Open every day.
A group of nine islands four of them-Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada
and Buyukada-inhabited. Afavourite summer place since Byzantine times, the
islands are a haven of quiet. With their beautiful villas and pine groves,
they offer lovely walks all year round. No private cars are allowed, so
transportation is either by foot, horsedrawn carriage or donkey. Ferry-boats
leave from Sirkeci, Kadakoy and Bostanca and sea buses operate infrequently
from Kabatas and Bostanca (call 362 04 44 for sea 6us information). A
The Spice or Egyptian Bazaar (Misir Carsisi)
Eminonu An exotic food market and bazaar selling spices, dried fruits
cheeses, olives, as well as towels, slippers, baskets and some jewellery.
Outside, to the lefL, there is a wonderful flower and bird market and to the
right merchants busily seLl vegetables and fish with lots of local coLour.
Open Monday- Saturday 09.00-19.00.
(entrance on coast road between Besiktas and Ortakoy) The Sultans'
private park, now open to the public, with two lovely buildings-Malta Kosk
and Cadir Kosk. Both places have marvelous terraces. Also don't miss the
elegant wooden Sale (Chalet) Kosku inside the park which is a museum. The
park is a favourite of courting couples.