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Istanbul

73 expert recommended attractions

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Topkapi Palace

Fatih & Sultanahmet 97 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Topkapi Palace should be at the top of the list for anyone interested in the vast and exotic world behind the seraglio walls. — Frommer's

Puppy-guarding its perch on the tip of the European peninsula, Topkapı served as the official residence for Ottoman sultans (and all their women—except the  daughters who were locked up... — Let's Go

This opulent palace complex is the subject of more colourful stories than most of the world's royal residences put together. — Lonely Planet

Though it served as the royal residence and seat of the Ottoman Empire for nearly four centuries, this palace isn’t the mighty pleasure dome that many visitors expect. — Travel + Leisure

In the harem of Topkapi Palace visitors are plunged into a mythical Orient of a thousand and one treasures and as many fantasies. — Michelin Guide

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum

Fatih & Sultanahmet 94 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This Ottoman palace on the western edge of the Hippodrome was built in 1524 for İbrahim Paşa, childhood friend, brother-in-law and grand vizier of Süleyman the Magnificent. — Lonely Planet

Holds an extensive collection of carpets, calligraphy, woodwork, stonework and ceramic, glass and metal objects. — Time Out

Rooms arranged around a central garden, house a number of splendours of decorative Islamic art from the 11C onwards. — Michelin Guide

Ibrahim Pasa, swept into slavery by Turkish raids in Greece, became the beloved and trusted boyhood friend of Süleyman the Magnificent. — Frommer's

Süleyman the Magnificent commissioned Sinan to build this grandiose stone palace overlooking the Hippodrome in about 1520 for his brother-in-law, the grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha. — Fodor's

Blue Mosque

Fatih & Sultanahmet 94 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

With his eponymously named mosque, Sultan Ahmet I (r1603–17) set out to build a monument that would rival and even surpass the nearby Aya Sofya in grandeur and beauty. — Lonely Planet

Adorned with over 20,000 blue hand-crafted Iznik tiles, stained-glass windows and the golden brushstrokes of a 17th-century calligrapher, the Blue Mosque is the legacy of Sultan Ahmet I (1590-1617). — Afar Magazine

This jewel of the 17C has retained its vocation as a place of worship... the over-riding effect here is one of grace and solemnity. — Michelin Guide

This grand bubble of masonry, one of the great and defining features of Istanbul's skyline, was constructed between 1609 and 1617 by Sultan Ahmet I. — Frommer's

Only after you enter the Blue Mosque do you understand the name... this mosque feels gloriously airy and full of light. — Fodor's

Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Fatih & Sultanahmet 93 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This highly comprehensive museum is dedicated to Antiquity. — Michelin Guide

Step into this vast repository of spectacular finds... to get a head-spinning look at the civilizations that have thrived for thousands of years in and around Turkey. — Fodor's

The Istanbul Archaeology Museum is housed in three buildings just inside the first court of Topkapi Palace and includes the Museum of the Ancient Orient. — Frommer's

It may not pull the number of visitors that flock to nearby Topkapı, but this superb museum complex shouldn't be missed. — Lonely Planet

The world-class museum's garden alone begs a look. Inside, there are outstanding ancient sarcophagi, Byzantine sculpture, and Roman busts. — Travel + Leisure

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Dolmabahce Palace

Beşiktaş & Ortaköy 93 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

These days it’s fashionable for architects and critics influenced by the less-is-more aesthetic of the Bauhaus masters to sneer at buildings such as Dolmabahçe. — Lonely Planet

Often overlooked by visitors, this is one of Istanbul's most lavish and extravagant attractions. — Concierge

Generously deployed pomp and riches... provide a certain cohesion, in which it's possible to conjure up the decadent life of a sultan. — Michelin Guide

The name Dolmabahçe means "filled-in garden," from the fact that Sultan Ahmet I (ruled 1603–17) had an imperial garden planted here on land reclaimed from the sea. — Fodor's

The Dolmabahçe (“dol-ma-bah-chey”) Palace is European through and through. — Afar Magazine

Suleymaniye Mosque

Fatih & Sultanahmet 93 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Escape the Sultanahmet crowds and head for this impressive and undervisited complex, just a short walk past the University from the back of the Grand Bazaar. — Concierge

The Süleymaniye crowns one of the seven hills dominating the Golden Horn and provides a magnificent landmark for the entire city. — Lonely Planet

The elegant silhouette of Suleyman's mosque rises gracefully towards the sky. — Michelin Guide

With the highest dome in the city, this mosque represents Ottoman architecture at its innovative best. — Let's Go

Perched on one of the seven hills of Istanbul and dominating the skyline, this complex is considered to be Sinan's masterpiece as much as the grand monument to Süleyman's reign. — Frommer's

Grand Bazaar

Fatih & Sultanahmet 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This labyrinthine and chaotic bazaar is the heart of the Old City and has been so for centuries. No visit to İstanbul would be complete without a stop here. — Lonely Planet

The city's covered Grand Bazaar is an extraordinary world all of its own. — Michelin Guide

This massive, dazzling, and cacophonous covered market is the ur-bazaar of the Orient; if you’ve envisioned what it will be like, prepare to have your expectations exceeded. — Travel + Leisure

Take a deep breath and plunge into this maze of 65 winding, covered streets crammed with 4,000 tiny shops, cafés, restaurants, mosques, and courtyards. — Fodor's

Soon after conquering Constantinople and defeating the Byzantines in 1453, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II commissioned the beginnings of the Grand Bazaar to reinvigorate trade to the city. — Afar Magazine

Hagia Sophia

Fatih & Sultanahmet 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

For almost a thousand years, the Ayasofya was a triumph of Christianity and the symbol of Byzantium. — Frommer's

Sophia in Latin, Haghia Sofia in Greek and the Church of the Divine Wisdom in English, this extraordinary building is İstanbul's most famous monument. — Lonely Planet

Hagia Sophia is a museum, welcoming visitors from all around the world, representing the integration of Islam and Christianity in Istanbul. — Afar Magazine

An almost mystical sense of awe... a quite memorable visit! — Michelin Guide

Hagia Sophia reigned as the greatest church in Christendom from the fourth century to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. — Travel + Leisure

Kariye Museum

Fatih & Sultanahmet 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Tucked away in a far corner of the Old City, just by the Edirnekapı gate, is the tiny Kariye Museum, also known as the Chora Church. — Concierge

The original church was built in the 4th century A.D. as part of a monastery complex outside the city walls... but the present structure dates to the 11th century. — Frommer's

Chora Church requires some serious ceiling-gazing, cramp-in-the-neck-calming skills—you’ll find some of the most beautiful surviving Byzantine art on the domes above your head. — Let's Go

The dazzling mosaics and frescoes in the former Church of the Holy Savior in Chora are considered to be among the finest Byzantine artworks in the world. — Fodor's

This pumpkin-domed church-turned-museum is one of the great surviving jewels of Byzantine art and architecture. — Travel + Leisure

Istanbul Modern Museum

Beyoğlu 89 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Though almost every corner in Beyoğlu has its own gallery, Istanbul Modern is the place to get a taste (or a filling meal for the soul) of the city’s contemporary scene. The upper floor... — Let's Go

The Museum of Modern Art of Istanbul, which occupies a former customs' warehouse on the banks of the Bosphorus, was designed by architect Monica Bonvicini. — Michelin Guide

Housed in a superb old dockside warehouse—very much in keeping with the industrial aesthetic of the Tate Modern in London—the Istanbul Modern opened to much excitement in December 2004. — Concierge

Its stunning location on the shores of the Bosphorus and its extensive collection of Turkish 20th-century art make it well worth a visit. — Lonely Planet

One of the most significant openings in the city's recent history. — Travel + Leisure

Hippodrome

Fatih & Sultanahmet 84 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The Byzantine Emperors loved nothing more than an afternoon at the chariot races, and this rectangular arena was their venue of choice. — Lonely Planet

This vast oblong square dotted with a few obelisks is all that remains nowadays from the prestigious Roman hippodrome. — Michelin Guide

Watching the modestly clothed couples with their children strolling through this park on a Sunday afternoon, it's hard to imagine the centuries of rowdy chariot race. — Frommer's

It takes a bit of imagination to appreciate the Hippodrome—once a Byzantine stadium for chariot racing with seating for 100,000. — Fodor's

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Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque

Fatih & Sultanahmet 84 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Many consider it to be the most beautiful of the mosques built by master Ottoman architect Sinan. — Fodor's

This mosque is considered to be one of the "minor" works of Sinan, architect to the sultans. But there are several reasons why this mosque is anything but minor. — Frommer's

Sinan designed this mosque in 1571, at the height of his architectural career. — Lonely Planet

The small Sokollu mosque was built by Sinan in 1571. Entry is via an extraordinary covered staircase that leads to the inner courtyard, embellished with a traditional sadirvan (ablutions... — Michelin Guide

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Pera Museum

Beyoğlu 84 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Set in a lavish 19th-century mansion overlooking the Golden Horn, the privately funded museum stages exhibitions such as a show of Kutahya pottery and Orientalist portraits from the late Ottoman era. — Travel + Leisure

A small private museum housed in a grand 1893 building (the former Bristol Hotel), the Pera showcases a diverse range of exhibits. — Fodor's

Run by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation, this museum is worth visiting both for its temporary exhibits (which occupy the top three floors and have included works by Picasso, Chagal,... — Let's Go

Head to this museum to admire works from Suna and İnan Kıraç's splendid collection of paintings featuring Turkish Orientalist themes. — Lonely Planet

Displays on two floors part of the private collection of the Kirac Foundation. — Michelin Guide

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Galata Tower

Beyoğlu 83 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The neighborhood of Galata, located on a steep hump of land north of the Golden Horn and historic peninsula, actually sits on the earliest foundations of the city. — Frommer's

The hillside location provided good defense, as well as a perch from which to monitor the comings and goings of vessels in the sea lanes below. — Fodor's

On the 21 March, I climbed the Galata Tower to see if a 470 year old Istanbul love story was true. — Afar Magazine

Constructed in 1348, it was the tallest structure in the city for centuries, and it still dominates the skyline north of the Golden Horn. — Lonely Planet

A district full of life on the banks of the Bosphorus, culminating in the 68m-high Galata Tower... delightful 360° view. — Michelin Guide

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Fatih Mosque and Complex

Fatih & Sultanahmet 83 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Fatih Sultan Mehmet II had his namesake built on the ruins of the Havariyun, or the Church of Holy Apostles, which served as the seat of Christianity after the conquest, from 1453 to 1456. — Frommer's

A few years after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople (“pulling down” Eastern Rome and “digesting” the base of the Christian world, according to one passionate pamphlet), Sultan Mehmet... — Let's Go

A visit to the imperial complex of Fatih Mehmet is one of the highlights of any visit to Istanbul. — Michelin Guide

The Fatih was the first great imperial mosque built in İstanbul following the Conquest. — Lonely Planet

This complex consisting of a mosque, religious schools, and other buildings of a pious nature was the largest in the Ottoman empire. — Fodor's

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Basilica Cistern

Fatih & Sultanahmet 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Built more than 1400 years ago under the direction of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian—the same guy responsible for the Hagia Sophia—this underground cistern once stored water for the whole city. — Let's Go

A journey through this ancient underground waterway takes you along dimly lit walkways that weave around 336 marble columns rising 26 feet to support Byzantine arches and domes. — Fodor's

Eighty-two feet below Istanbul is a 450-foot-long, 213-foot-wide former royal reservoir. — Travel + Leisure

When those Byzantine emperors built something, they certainly did it properly! — Lonely Planet

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Rumeli Fortress

Istanbul 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Built on a hill overlooking the water, Rumeli Hisarı is the best preserved of all the fortresses on the Bosphorus and well worth a visit. — Fodor's

Just before the Fatih Bridge are the majestic structures of Rumeli Hisarı and Anadolu Hisarı (Fortress of Anatolia). — Lonely Planet

The towers and crenellated walls of the imposing ramparts of the Rumeli Hisari (1452) can be seen on the European shore of the Bosphorus, resembling a long stone snake. — Michelin Guide

This citadel was built by Mehmet the Conqueror across from the Anatolia Fortress... in preparation for what was to be the seventh and final Ottoman siege of the fortified Byzantine city. — Frommer's

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Istiklal Street

Beyoğlu 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Istiklal Caddesi, as it is known in Turkish, is still lined by a number of attractive old façades, including former embassies. — Michelin Guide

Most travelers to Istanbul will stay within the comforts of Old Istanbul, the main tourist precinct where the Aya Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and Spice Bazaar lie. But lingering... — Afar Magazine

Running for almost a mile between Taksim Square and Tünel Square, İstiklal Caddesi is the heart of modern Istanbul. — Fodor's

In the late 19th century, this major street was known as the Grande Rue de Pera, and it carried the life of the modern city up and down its lively promenade. — Lonely Planet

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Beylerbeyi Palace

Şişli 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The grounds contain sumptuous pavilions and kiosks, including the Stable Pavilion, where the imperial stud was kept. — Frommer's

Under the bridge on the European shore is the green-and-cream-coloured Balyan Usta Yalı , built in the 1860s by architect Sarkis Balyan. — Lonely Planet

This palace is one of the architectural fantasies of the last sultans. — Michelin Guide

Like a mini-Dolmabahçe that incorporates a similarly eclectic mix of European and Turkish styles but is smaller, less grandiose, and has more of a personal feel. — Fodor's

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Balik Pazari

Beyoğlu 82 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Located just off İstiklal Caddesi next to the entrance to the Çiçek Pasajı, the Balık Pazarı is a bustling labyrinth of streets filled with stands. — Fodor's

Many of the shops have been here for close on a century and have extremely loyal clienteles – check out Sütte Şarküteri for its delicious charcuterie. — Lonely Planet

A feast of Rococo architecture, the 19C Flower Passage (Çiçek Pasaji in Turkish) has retained its full charm. — Michelin Guide

This fish market is a colorful cluster of much more than just fishmongers. — Frommer's

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