The fantastic beauty of Istanbul comes from the integration of the architectural masterpieces reflecting the meeting of Europe and Asia over many centuries. Istanbul features a unique silhouette shaped by the creative genius of Byzantine and Ottoman architects. In our article, you can find information about must-see historical sites in Istanbul. Enjoy reading!
This underground wonder, located approximately 150 m west of Hagia Sophia, is one of the precious ancient masterpieces built by the rule of Emperor Justinian. Built in the 6th century to provide a filtration system for the now-destroyed Great Palace of Constantinople, it is the largest of several hundred cisterns under Istanbul and continued to supply water to Topkapi Palace after the conquest of Ottoman in 1453. With an area of approximately 10 km2, the Basilica Cistern is supported by a forest of high columns adorned with mainly Ionic and Corinthian capitals. Moderately humid and dimly lit cistern is the perfect place to beat the summer heat.
Rumelihisari, also known as Rumelian Castle, is a fortress covering an area of approximately 6.5 hectares (16 acres) with high walls, towers and green surroundings. Located at the narrowmost point of the Bosphorus on the European side of Istanbul, it was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in four months in preparation for the final attack on Constantinople and the ultimate collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1452. Its interior structures were extensively damaged after the city suffered a series of disastrous earthquakes. Rumelihisari is open to the public as an open-air museum and often hosts concerts and performances in its amphitheater.
Kariye (Chora) Museum
The Kariye (Chora) Museum in Kariye (Chora) is an old Byzantine church and can be considered as the younger sister of Hagia Sophia in several aspects. Just like Hagia Sophia, it was turned into an Ottoman mosque in the 16th century and then started to serve as a museum. It fascinates with its beauty despite its smaller dimensions. Located outside the original city walls in Edirnekapi, the interior spaces are adorned with glorious medieval mosaics and frescoes dating back to 1312. This outstanding museum complex hosts a number of Turkish and Middle-Eastern artifacts comprising a vast history of the region.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum displays a collection with a focus on pre-Islamic Middle-Eastern art and heritage. Brought into being by the famous museum curator, painter and archaeologist Osman Hamdi Bey, the museum is home to statues and tombs, including the famous Lebanon and Sidon sarcophagus. Turkish carpets, Qur'an, calligraphy and carved and embroidered wooden, glass and porcelain works are displayed. You will also see Istanbul display room, which will help you visualize the vast and epic history of the city. The third premise of the museum is the Tiled Pavilion, which was built by Mehmet the Conqueror and is home to a wide variety of ceramic artworks. The museum is situated in the restored Ibrahim Pasha Palace, which is a resplendent residence built by Ibrahim Pasa, the Grand Vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent. What you see is only a part of the original structure, which was started to be built around 1500.