The City Where Continents Meet
The city where continents meet showcases amazing historical beauties, stunning architectural components and compelling museums. İstanbul knows how to inspire you.
Heir to civilisations, İstanbul is the perfect spot to discover the historical heritage of Türkiye. From all-time favourites that illustrate Ottoman grandeur to boutique museums that exhibit private collections, the city has a lot to offer. İstanbul awaits you for new discoveries and an incredible journey through history.
İstanbul is today the modern city that combines perfectly contemporary culture with traditions deeply rooted in its history. The city’s Historical Peninsula was once the social and political centre of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires and has been inscribed on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List since 1985. The old quarter, still surrounded by the city walls at certain points, is the perfect address to discover the historical riches of the city as well as some of its stunning architectural details.
The Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, showcases its grandeur with its six minarets, whilst the magnificent Ayasofya is easily recognisable with its vast dome and colourful marble columns. The 15th-century sultans’ residence Topkapı Palace gives you the chance to discover the Ottoman grandeur through courtyards and the mystical and absolutely beautiful harem. As for the 6th-century Basilica Cistern, you will descend 52 uncanny steps towards a magical experience.
Not far from the cistern, the Archaeological Museums have a stunning collection and a splendid garden, and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum exhibits notable examples of Islamic calligraphy, tiles, and rugs, as well as ethnographic displays on various cultures in Türkiye.
Another must-see within the ancient city walls, the Grand Bazaar is the epitome of the historical Ottoman marketplace. You can pay a visit there just to witness its frenetic opulence or buy some local spices, handmade rugs and carpets, Turkish sweets, or tea and coffee. With its impressive architecture and small streets that smell like history, this covered bazaar presents a collection of different tastes, smells, voices, and textures.
Across the Golden Horn, at the end of a steep slope, is situated the Galata Tower. Constructed in 1348 by the Knights of St. John, it was the tallest structure in the city for centuries. Today, its top balcony is the perfect address for a 360-degree view of the megapolis. The neighbourhood is also home to various synagogues.
The 19th-century İstiklal Street, largely inspired by European architecture and city plans, offers impressive examples of passages and buildings, as well as many historic churches. Take a walk in the neighbourhood to explore and admire the European face of the city.
The variety of the city's museums is a perfect reflection of its eclectic character, bringing together an indispensable legacy from the past, an unmistakable cultural heritage and the modern features of a contemporary urban space. Private initiatives and collections have played an indispensable role in the city's arts and culture scene – today, it is possible to visit several thematic museums covering a large spectrum.
In a modern metropolis like İstanbul, there is no limit to the options you are offered when it comes to history. You may choose to visit centuries-old seaside Ottoman palaces and mansions along the Bosphorus or head to the Golden Horn to visit a private museum dedicated to the history of transport, industry and communications.
Art aficionados would particularly appreciate Istanbul Modern and the National Palaces Painting Museum. For those who are fond of literature, the Museum of Innocence provides the chance to discover the life of an İstanbulite in the mid to late century guided by the Nobel-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk’s namesake book. If you travel with children, you can go to the toy museum on the Asian side or the miniature park on the northeastern shore of Golden Horn.
Whatever your preferences and interests, İstanbul is the new cool when it comes to seeing sights and museums!