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Istanbul

Tour Turkey: What to See in Istanbul in Two Days

Istanbul is a city you must see when travelling to Turkey. Istanbul is the world’s 5th largest city and Turkey’s cultural and financial center. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn. It is a magical and romantic city full of history and culture. Following are the best sites to see when you only have a few days to tour Istanbul.

DAY ONE

HIPPODROME

The ancient Hippodrome is an enormous public entertainment arena that once seated as many as 100,000 zealous fans who came to watch chariot races, executions, and mock battles. Once the center of Byzantine civic life, it is still marked by the Egyptian Obelisk, the Bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine.

BLUE MOSQUE

With its massive central dome flanked by six slender minarets, the Blue Mosque stands as the single most recognizable monument on the Istanbul skyline. Built between 1609 and 1616, during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I, the enormous complex also included a hospital, caravansary, public kitchen, marketplace, schools and the Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmet I. The mosque’s immense interior, flooded with sunlight streaming through 260 windows, is decorated with more than 20,000 precious Iznik tiles detailing traditional flowers of Ottoman design. It is the deep blue glow of the tiles in sunlight that gives the building its name.

HAGIA SOPHIA

This famous basilica was constructed in the 6th century A.D. It is often described as the greatest work of Byzantine architecture. It was dedicated to Hagia Sophia which means Divine Wisdom, an attribute of Christ. Once the Church of Holy Wisdom, Christendom’s crowning glory, then converted to a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople. It remained a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Today, the Hagia Sophia is the fourth largest building constructed as a church in the world.

BASILICA CISTERN

Istanbul was besieged countless times and has always needed permanent water supplies. As a result, many underground cisterns were built during the Byzantine Empire. Water was brought to these big reservoirs from far away sources through aqueducts. During its construction, columns and capitals of earlier temples were used providing a very decorative appearance.

DAY TWO

TOPKAPI PALACE MUSEUM

Topkapi was the second palace built in Istanbul after its conquest by the Turks. It was a residence for the Ottoman Sultans and includes a maze of opulent buildings, which served as the center of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries. This palace, where the sultans and their courts and harem lived and governed, is now one of the world’s richest museums.

BOSPHORUS CRUISE

The Bosporus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia connecting the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. It is about 20 miles long and varies between one-half and one and one half miles wide. This boat ride takes you past the late Ottoman Palaces, Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi, as well as beautiful wooden mansions and modern villas of the 19th & 20th centuries which are located in this elegant section of the city.

GRAND BAZAAR

The area of the Grand Bazaar was a trade center during the Byzantine period. Two bedestens (domed masonry structures) were built by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror to enrich the economic life of the city. Later on, as people needed more places for trade, they added other buildings outside these structures. Today, the atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar is very exciting. Consequently, it has become a very popular place for visitors to explore a labyrinth of streets and passages housing eighteen entrances and more than 4,000 shops.

By visiting these sites in Istanbul, you will learn the foundation of Turkey’s history and culture. There are many other extraordinary things to see and experience if you have more time, such as the Dolmabahce Palace, Spice Market, Suleiman Mosque, Chora Church or ferry to the Princess’ Islands. Regardless of where you exploreFree Web Content, you will experience the magic and romance of times gone by in Istanbul.