• Pat

What to see in Istanbul - Monuments & Museums

What attracts me most in travelling is learning how people live elsewhere, what they dress, what they wear, where they live, etc. Museums and monuments are rarely on my "to do/to visit" list. I made an exception for Istanbul. Long before I bought my tickets I knew I wanted to see Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque. When I bought my travel guide Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern joined the list immediately. Because I stayed in a hostel in Sultanahmet all of these places were within walking distance so I managed to see all in 2 days.

Let's start with Aya Sofya, the most spectacular monument in Istanbul. It was built as a church in VI century, then turned into a mosque in XV century and then turned into a museum in XX century.  Impressive architecture, rich history and religious importance makes it an absolute must. When you're there don't forget to visit upstairs galleries where you can see the oldest mosaics.

Blue Mosque. It's the most beautiful mosque I've seen. Built in XVII century, it's still a place of worship being a perfect example of living history. If you decide to visit, make sure you dress properly (scarf, body covered - if you don't have appropriate clothes they will give free of charge).

Topkapi Palace. Hands down the most beautiful building I've seen. If you want to have a glimpse into sultans' and their concubines life, this is a place to go. The most incredible architecture, impressive chambers, stunning tiles. Pictures will speak for themselves. A practical tip - the ticket that you buy to enter the Palace doesn't cover the Harem part. Harem was a place where sultan's concubines lived. You will see chambers where girls had their classes, where they slept, prayed, where different ceremonies were held. You need a dedicated ticket to visit this. I would strongly recommend it though. Harem was my favourite part and in my opinion the most beautiful.

If you decide to visit all of these places plus perhaps other museums, it makes sense to buy Istanbul Museum card which costs 85 Turkish lira (the tickets for 4 places listed above already cost more).

Basilica Cistern. Built in VI century, the largest cistern in Istanbul with breathtaking beauty. It's not covered by Istanbul Museum card but definitely worth a visit.

If you are a fun of ancient history, you're going to love Istanbul Archaeology Museum where you can find an extensive collection of objects from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia.

Which places would you be most interested in visiting?


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