Istanbul is so rich in attractions that you can hardly see and explore them all in one trip. But, if you plan your trip well and follow well thought out routes, you can see quite a lot and discover different facets of this colorful city. If you are traveling to Istanbul for a week, then you have many opportunities to see it in all its diversity. In this amazing and multifaceted city, Europe and Asia met, the stories of two powerful empires intertwined and traces of different eras were bizarrely mixed. Walking through the historic center, you will meet sights literally at every step. But in other districts of Istanbul there are many interesting places worth visiting and special attention of tourists.
This article will help you plan walking routes and self-guided excursions in Istanbul so that your trip becomes rich, interesting and informative. We have planned a program for a week in Istanbul so that you see the city from various angles, discover its unusual facets, and perhaps get rid of some stereotypes about it. Among the attractions that we propose to visit in 7 days in Istanbul, there are not only well-known, must-see objects, but also little-known places, unexplored routes by tourists.
If you prefer more relaxed walks, simply shorten the routes that seem too active to you. In addition, on some days we offer alternative options to choose from – after all, everyone has different interests, tastes and preferences, and therefore it is worthwhile to approach travel planning individually. Therefore, the choice is yours, well, we generously share ideas, tips and proven routes. The proposed program options can also be used if you are traveling to Istanbul for 3 days or want to study it in 5 days – just define your priorities and shorten the program in accordance with them, choosing the most interesting and important routes for you. So, we are planning a trip to Istanbul for a week: what to see and how best to spend these bright 7 days.
Weekly Istanbul Travel Guide
Day one: in the footsteps of the Byzantine Empire (Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome, Basilica cistern, Blue Mosque and other places in the Sultanahmet region)
Day Two: Contrasts of Beyoglu District (Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata and Karakoy Districts)
Day three: the flavor of the Old City (Topkapi and a walk through the historic quarters of the Fatih district)
Day four: between Europe and Asia (Bosphorus, Princes’ Islands / Asian side, Maiden’s Tower)
Day 5: the luxury of the Sultan’s palace and modern Istanbul (Dolmabahce Palace, Besiktas, Nisantasi districts, Rumeli Hisary’s tower)
Day six: away from the hiking trails (Fener and Balat districts)
Day 7: enjoying Istanbul
Day one: In the footsteps of the Byzantine Empire
Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Basilica cistern and other places in Sultanahmet region
We suggest starting from the very heart of Istanbul – from the Sultanahmet district, where the most famous sights of the city are concentrated. This is a historical center that still remembers the times of Constantinople, when the fate of the mighty Byzantine Empire was decided here.
Perhaps the most famous and majestic of the surviving monuments of Byzantium is the legendary Hagia Sophia . A grandiose cathedral, built in the 6th century (on the site of the 4th century church) and over the centuries amazed the imagination of everyone who saw it. Before the appearance of St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican, it was the largest Christian church in the world, it was called the eighth wonder of the world. After the accession of the Ottomans, the cathedral was turned into a mosque, in the 20th century it became a museum, and in the 11th century, in the summer of 2020, it was again converted into a mosque.
After being turned into a mosque, visiting the building became free, but now you need to take into account that this is no longer a museum, but a religious building. In particular, you need to plan your visit during periods when there are no prayers. One of the quietest times to visit is from 9 am to 12 noon.
Depending on what time of day you plan to start your sightseeing, you can visit Hagia Sophia first, and then explore interesting places around it, or vice versa. In any case, we recommend that you download our audio tour “ Heart of Istanbul ” in advance and reveal the secrets of Istanbul with a convenient audio guide.
So, what is the best way to build a route in the vicinity of Hagia Sophia.
Not far from the Sultanahmet transport stop are the Byzantine ruins of the once majestic Palace of Antiochus , built in the 5th century for the eunuch Antiochus. And a little further there is Sultanahmet Square, or Hippodrome Square . Part of it is located on the site of the ancient hippodrome, which was laid in the city of Byzantium back in 203. For almost a thousand years, the Hippodrome remained the center of the city’s sports and social life. Indeed, in addition to sports and entertainment events, festive performances were held here, and over time, solemn state ceremonies. The main axis of the Byzantine Hippodrome is today marked by a series of obelisks and columns that rise in the center.
In the northeastern part of the square (at the very beginning, if you go from the Palace of Antiochus) there is an elegant German fountain late 19th century.
And as you move further to the west, you will discover more ancient monuments that take you back to the distant Byzantine era. And some – even in the era of Ancient Egypt. For example, the Egyptian obelisk, also known as the obelisk of Theodosius , is one of the oldest monuments in the city, built in the 15th century BC. and brought here, as you might guess both by the name and by its appearance, from Egypt.
By the way, not far from the Obelisk of Theodosius is the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art . If you have time and desire, you can take a break from Byzantium for a while and switch to Islamic culture. Or schedule a visit for another day.
And learn more about the most interesting museums in Istanbul here .
A little further you will see a Serpentine Column , as if twisted from bronze serpent statues, however, the heads of the snakes have not survived. Perhaps the monument that has suffered over the centuries is no longer so impressive in its appearance, but its history is amazing. After all, the column was originally erected in the ancient Greek city of Delphi, in honor of the victory of the Hellenes over the Persians.
Well, this series of ancient monuments closes with the Obelisk of Constantine , towering here since the 4th century – the very time when Emperor Constantine the Great rebuilt and decorated the Hippodrome.
Walking around the Hippodrome square and examining the structures that have survived on it, it is worth remembering that distant era when Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. And the Hippodrome was the center of the city’s public life, where the brightest sports competitions, and festive performances, and the announcement of imperial decrees were held, and sometimes terrible popular riots began (like, for example, Nick’s uprising).
Well, after that we turn to the narrow Üçler Sokak street, which will turn into Tavukhane Sokak. Built up with old wooden houses from the 19th century, it will take you to a completely different era. … And they will lead directly to the Arasta Bazaar. This colorful market may interest you on its own. But that is not all. If you walk along it literally 100 meters, on the right side you will notice the passage to the Grand Palace Mosaic Museum . You can also approach the entrance by going around the Arasta market along Torun street.
This museum carefully preserves what has survived from the former luxury of the Grand Palace of the Byzantine emperors. It was here, in a beautiful place on the shores of the Bosphorus, between the Hippodrome and the fortress walls of ancient Byzantium, that a huge complex of palaces stood out, which was supposed to embody the greatness of the richest Byzantine empire. Almost nothing remained of those buildings, and the Blue Mosque and many other structures are located on the former territory of the palace complex. By the way, not only the Ottomans are to blame for the destruction – even before them, the crusaders who plundered Constantinople in 1204 did their best. Already in the XX century, archaeologists discovered here, on the site of the present museum, unique mosaics of the 5th century and some remains of the palace premises. As it turned out later, it was here that the peristyle of the palace was located (a covered gallery with a colonnade located in the inner part of the complex). In the museum you can see magnificent multi-colored mosaics, as well as fragments of the mosaic floor. Admission to the museum is free if you have purchased the Museum Pass Istanbul Museum Card in advance.
Well, about what this grandiose palace complex was like during the Byzantine era, you can listen to the “ Heart of Istanbul ” tour with an audio guide in the Travelry mobile application.
Well, after immersion in Byzantine history and art, we will plunge into Ottoman culture and visit one of the most famous mosques in Istanbul, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and one of the symbols of the city – Sultanahmet Mosque . It is also called the Blue Mosque . Once inside, you will understand why – the interior is decorated with blue tiles from Iznik ceramics.
After visiting this attraction, you can take a breath in the park, which is laid out to the north of the mosque. And if you are walking with the mobile travel guide Travelry , it will remind you that the oldest public baths of Constantinople, built in the days of Septimius Severus – the famous Baths of Zeusippus . Although nothing has survived from the terms themselves, the audio guide will tell you about their history and interesting features.
And behind the park, in front of the Hagia Sophia, during the time of Constantinople, there was one of the main squares of the city – Augusta . It was from here, from this square, once decorated with sculptures, that the main entrance to the territory of the Grand Palace was. If you stand facing the Hagia Sophia mosque and with your back to the Blue Mosque, then on the left, across the road, is the so-called Milestone , or the Zero Mile of Constantinople. This is an ancient structure (more precisely, today we see only a fragment of it), which once served as a reference point for the length of roads in the state.
Not far from the Milk Stone there is another famous and popular tourist attraction – the Basilica Cistern . Since the 6th century, this underground collection tank was used to supply water to the Great Imperial Palace and could hold up to 80 thousand cubic meters of water. And today it is a museum that looks so much like a mysterious flooded palace that it attracts not only tourists, but also filmmakers. The cistern has become a set for various films more than once.
If you did not start this walk with a visit to Hagia Sophia , then you can do it now, because you are in the immediate vicinity of this monument. In the Travelry audio guide, which we have already mentioned more than once, in the excursion “ Heart of Istanbul “, great detailed and interesting stories are devoted to the Hagia Sophia and its interior.
Having examined the inside of the mosque, it is worth paying attention to some of the structures around it. The former baptistery of the cathedral now houses the mausoleum of Mustafa I and Ibrahim . According to some versions, this building is even older than the cathedral itself! In ancient times, the sacrament of Baptism was held in the baptistery. And it was in the baptistery of the Cathedral of St. Sophia in 955 that Princess Olga, the grandmother of Prince Vladimir, who later baptized all of Russia, was baptized.
Also, the Hagia Sophia mosque is surrounded by several interesting structures that keep the memory of the Islamic period in the history of the building. For example, a large ablution fountain built in 1740, Primary School and Clock Room , Mausoleums of Princes and Sultans (Murad III, Selim II, Mehmed III), dining room for the poor (imaret).
And next to the building of the complex, already practically in front of the entrance to the Topkapi palace complex, there is an elegant fountain built in 1728 by Sultan Ahmet III . It is not just a fountain, but a monumental and richly decorated structure in the Ottoman Baroque style, one of the most beautiful fountains in Istanbul.
Although Hagia Sophia is adjacent to the Sultan’s Topkapi Palace , we do not recommend visiting them on the same day (of course, if you have enough days in Istanbul). The walk of the first day turned out to be quite intense and includes several large tourist sites at once. If possible, it is better to schedule Topkapi for another day.
In the meantime, after you have traveled through several eras of the history of Constantinople-Istanbul, saw several of its legendary symbols at once, plunged into different cultures, you can simply enjoy the beauty and harmony of the wonderful Gulhane Park , which is located near the Hagia Sophia mosque, outside the walls of the Topkapi palace. The park is especially beautiful in spring, when tulips are in bloom, when it is decorated with numerous colorful flower beds.
In the northeastern part of Gulhane Park, you will see the most ancient monument of antiquity in Istanbul – the Gothic Column . And further, on the hillside, there are several cafes and observation decks . From there you can enjoy magnificent views of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. And below, near the water, you can see the walls crowned with turrets – these are the remains of the fortress walls of Constantinople. A great place to end your first day self-guided tour!
After such an intense walk, it will be a pleasure to reward yourself with a delicious dinner in one of the Istanbul cafes or restaurants. And if there is a desire and a romantic mood, then go on a small cruise along the Bosphorus at sunset.
So, to summarize: what we have seen already in one day in Istanbul.
This is a day of rich and exciting acquaintance with the history of the city. We started from the very heart of Istanbul, Sultanahmet district, and included several attractions in the itinerary of the first day, which are among the “most” in Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Gulhane Park and others. If desired and possible, you can also visit some of the museums on this route: the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, the Grand Palace Mosaic Museum, the Archaeological Museum (next to Gulhane Park). And at the end of the walk, admire the beautiful views of the Bosphorus from the observation deck of the park.
If you want not only to view these Istanbul sights, but also to listen to interesting stories about them and learn interesting facts, we recommend downloading the audio tour “ Heart of Istanbul “, which fully corresponds to the described route.
The suggested itinerary of the first day in Istanbul is almost completely the same as the itinerary of our audio tour “ Heart of Istanbul ” available in the Travelry app. Audio guide stories will make your walk interesting and informative. And if you are not interested in the audio guide, you can simply navigate the offline map in the Travelry application – all the mentioned sights are marked on it, with short descriptions and photos. The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store. And if you have only one day in Istanbul, then pay attention to the “Istanbul in one day” tour available in the Travelry app.
You may also find it interesting to read:
Istanbul on its own: tips and secrets
Day Two: Contrasts of Beyoglu District
Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata and Karakoy Districts
The itinerary of the second day in Istanbul will open up new facets of this amazing city for you. The first self-guided excursion immersed you in history, allowed you to look into bygone times, and get imbued with both Byzantine culture and oriental flavor. But do not forget that Istanbul stands literally on the border between West and East, and not only geographically. The architectural appearance, cultural traditions and even the atmosphere are strikingly different in different parts of the city. This is especially felt in the Beyoglu region, which is located on the northern shore of the Golden Horn. This is what we will study on the second day in Istanbul.
Let’s start with the famous Taksim Square . Including because it is easy to get to it from anywhere in the city, because it is a major transport hub. And also – a symbol of independent Turkey, which is reminiscent of both the “Republic” monument of 1928, and the fact that the square often becomes a venue for demonstrations, military parades and other mass events.
Istiklal Street departs from Taksim Square – one of the most popular tourist streets in the city. This is an endless series of shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, embassies, shopping centers, pastry shops, ice cream makers, nightclubs. Walking along Istiklal Street, you can see the famous historical tram, or Nostalgic Tram. Or even decide to ride it. This is the only traffic allowed on the street from Taksim Square to the Tunnel underground funicular station.
Not far from Taksim Square, turn onto the small Meşelik street to see the largest Orthodox church in Istanbul today, the Greek Holy Trinity Church in Taksim .
Further down Istiklal Street, pay attention to the elegant building with a covered passage and the Çiçek Pasajı signboard – this is a historic Flower Passage , opened in the second half of the 19th century. Its “flower” name, by the way, is associated with the Russian emigration – after 1917, noblewomen who fled from the revolution were forced to trade flowers in the passage.
On the street Yeni Çarşı, which departs from Istiklal, there is one of the oldest secondary educational institutions in the country – Galatasaray Lyceum , founded in 1481 under Sultan Bayezid II. Initially, the institution was called the Enderun Imperial School of the Galata Palace. Interesting facts about how the Sultan’s school was taught, as well as about other attractions of the Beyoglu area, you can find in our audio tour “ Where West and East meet ” , available in Travelry mobile app.
And if you walk along Yeni Çarşı Street even further from Istiklal, then you will reach a cozy pedestrian zone that will take you to France! It is not for nothing that it is called French Street (though the locals are more familiar with the name Cezayir Sokak). A special atmosphere here is set by the facades of houses painted in yellow and pink, and flowerpots with flowers, and cozy ladders, and small shops, small cafes and art galleries. By the way, the residence of the French ambassador is not far away.
Returning to Istiklal Street, you can see another piece of Europe in Istanbul by looking into the largest Catholic church in Istanbul today – the Church of St. Anthony of Padua , which is hidden behind two identical houses and connecting them arch.
After catching our breath from the tourist bustle, we will again go out to the noisy Istiklal street and follow it further, towards opposite Taksim Square. Do not pass by the three neoclassical arches with columns and wrought iron trellises, followed by a steep staircase (this building will be on your left). Going down the stairs, you will find yourself in a small courtyard, right at the door of the Franciscan Church of St. Mary Draperis – one of the oldest Catholic churches in Istanbul. The history of this parish dates back to the Byzantine era.
As you can see, in this area there are much more reminders of European countries than of the Ottoman Empire. The fact is that even in the Byzantine era, a Genoese colony settled in the Galata region. And later, under the Ottomans, Galata (which began to be called Beyoglu) remained a European region, where embassies of European countries, hotels, shops, theaters were built.
There is also a piece of Russia here – right next to the Church of Mary Draperis, there is a magnificent mansion in the style of Russian classicism, which today is occupied by the Consulate General of Russia , it is often called the Russian Palace here.
Istiklal Street gradually turns into Galip Dede Caddesi. On it you will go down to one of the most famous and “postcard” symbols of Istanbul – Galata Tower. This is another vivid reminder of the European presence in Constantinople – it was erected by the Genoese in 1348, strengthening their trading colony. And now, without the Galata Tower, towering over the ancient narrow streets of Galata, it is impossible to imagine the panorama of the Beyoglu district. If you wish, you can climb up to the paid observation deck and admire the views of the city, or even dine at the restaurant located at the top of the tower. But this is in case you have extra money.
By the way, it is no coincidence that we propose to move from Taksim Square towards Galata Tower and the Golden Horn, and not vice versa. Everything to make it easier for you to walk – following the proposed route, you gradually descend down the hill. Climbing up would be much more tiring.
Not far from the tower, on the same Galata Kulesi street, behind a small inconspicuous gate is hidden the Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul , preserved from the Middle Ages, along with other Catholic parishes that served the Levantine community (Levantines called the Catholic the population of eastern countries in the Middle Ages, immigrants from Europe).
As you continue down the hill, do not miss another interesting attraction of this quarter: the unusual staircase, decorated in the Baroque and early Art Nouveau style, – Staircase Kondo . It was built at the expense of Abraham Kondo, who was called the “Rothschild of the East”, and still bears his name.
Let’s continue our self-guided tour of Istanbul and discover, not far from the photogenic staircase, another unusual attraction of Istanbul – the Arab Mosque. Despite the external attributes of the mosque, you can recognize the former Catholic Dominican church built in the Gothic style (by the way, very rare for Istanbul).
Next, we will head towards the famous Galata Bridge. On the way, you can pass by Istanbul’s Tunel – an underground funicular, opened in the second half of the 19th century! By the way, he appeared here thanks to an enterprising Frenchman. This story and many others can be found in our Audio Tour of Beyoglu .
When you reach Galata Bridge, be sure to drop by the Karakoy fish market and taste the freshest seafood and local fast food – balyk-ekmek, which literally means “fish and bread”: delicious sandwiches with fish fillets, fried or grilled and vegetables. They say that it tastes better than here at the Karakoy market, this dish is not prepared anywhere.
And finally, pay attention to the Galata Bridge itself, which picturesquely spans the Golden Horn and leads to the very historical part of Istanbul, which you were in on the first day. The bridge has two levels – the upper one is used for the movement of cars, trams and the passage of pedestrians on the sidewalks. In addition, locals love to fish from there. The lower part is a pedestrian zone with cafes, shops and restaurants.
You can continue exploring the area, again moving from the bridge into the Karakoy area, but this time along the Bosphorus, without climbing Galata Hill from where you recently descended. Just 5 minutes walk from the bridge, you can see the French Church of St. Benedict is the oldest Catholic church in Istanbul, built by Benedictine monks back in 1427. And not far from it, in the narrow alleys of the Karakoy district, in an inconspicuous building, you can find the Russian Orthodox Church. Despite its modest appearance (only a small plaque on the wall helps to identify the entrance), the Russian Church of St. Panteleimon has a very rich and interesting history and keeps the memory of many generations of Russian Istanbulites, as well as of numerous pilgrims and emigrants. who have flocked here in different eras.
Going even further, you will see the Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator – the oldest Armenian parish in Istanbul. Although this building itself was built already in 1965, but on the site of an old church of the XIV or XV century, also dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator. This is the only example of traditional Armenian architecture in Istanbul – with a characteristic conical dome, narrow windows and a traditional belfry.
As you can see, the Karakoy area has been a multi-ethnic area for centuries. This port area was traditionally inhabited by European sailors and merchants, as well as non-Muslim national communities – Greeks, Armenians, Jews and others.
However, there are also traditional mosques here. For example, the old Kilich Ali Pasha Mosque , built by the famous architect Sinan in the 16th century. The complex of the mosque includes the turbe (tomb) of its founder, Kilic Ali Pasha, a desperate pirate, an Ottoman admiral with a dizzying biography (which we, of course, will tell about in excursions in the Beyoglu district with audioguide Travelry ).
Next to the mosque, there is an imperial cannon yard – Tophane-i Amira. It was built in the 15th century, shortly after the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans, and since then has regularly supplied the Ottoman Empire with cannons and artillery pieces for more than 450 years. The entire Tophane district was named after the cannon yard.
The most beautiful Tophane fountain , located next to the 18th century, and the two-storey elegant Tophane pavilion , which served as the summer residence of Sultan Abdul-Majid in another era, bear the same name.
Being in the Tophane region, one cannot ignore the magnificently decorated Nusretiye Mosque with graceful minarets – one of the examples of the Ottoman Baroque style.
The second day in Istanbul turned out to be no less intense than the first. You deserve at least a delicious dinner at one of the local cafes! In the Tophane region, where the proposed route ends, there are many pleasant places. And if you wish, you can imbue the local flavor by smoking a hookah in a nargile cafe (for example, Nargilem Café ).
Summing up the results of the second day in Istanbul
You are only two days in Istanbul, and have already visited the two shores of the Golden Horn and saw such different areas of the city. In the Beyoglu district, Istanbul will open up to you as a European cosmopolitan city with a rich and complex history, diverse architecture and an interesting mix of cultures. The route of the second day starts from Taksim Square and leads you first along the famous Istiklal Street towards the Galata Tower (with entry into interesting lanes), to the Galata Bridge and Karakoy district, and then along the Bosphorus to the Pushechny Dvor and the Nusretiye Mosque. The entire route described can be followed with our audio guide around Beyoglu .
But you have come to Istanbul for a week, and there are still so many amazing discoveries and vivid impressions ahead!
Day Three: Color of the Old City
Topkapi and a walk through the historic quarters of Fatih
The third day in Istanbul promises to be eventful! Therefore, we recommend getting up early and heading straight to the opening to the famous Topkapi Palace, which for several centuries served as the residence of the Ottoman sultans. The sooner you start your sightseeing, the more likely you are to avoid the crowds of tourists who arrive in Istanbul on cruise ships. From about 10 to 15.00, the largest influx of visitors is here, therefore, if you do not have time to come to the opening (or simply do not want to get up early), you can slightly adjust the program of this day and transfer Topkapi to the afternoon (after 16.00), when at the complex will not be so crowded.
If you plan to visit many museums in Istanbul and purchase the Museum Pass in advance, then you will not have to stand in line at the ticket office.
So, Topkapi Palace . The place where the sultans and their numerous concubines lived, where passions seethed and palace intrigues raged, where revolts of the Janissaries thundered and where the most important state affairs of the viziers were discussed. With our audio tour of Topkapi Palace Complex you can explore the palace grounds starting at the monumental palace entrance, the Imperial Gate, and ending at the observation deck in the fourth courtyard of Topkapi. You will successively go through the first, second, third courtyards, paying attention to individual structures, for example, the church of St. Irene, the famous palace Harem, the Kitchen Palace and the Topkapi Treasury. Finally, in the fourth courtyard of Topkapi, you will admire the elegant pavilions, enjoy the beauty of the palace garden (of course, in all its glory it appears in the warm season) and the beautiful view of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, which opens from the pavilion of Abdul Majid.
Well, after you feel the greatness of the Ottoman heritage and the inconsistency of history, you can take an inspired walk through the Old Town and see some more gems of Istanbul architecture.
Right outside the walls of the Topkapi palace complex is the already familiar Gulhane Park, which we included in the route of the first day in Istanbul. And behind the park, a little further to the northwest, there is a much later, but also very famous landmark – Sirkeci Station . You can walk to it from Topkapi in 10-15 minutes. This building will take you to a completely different era – to the 19th century. It was at this station of Constantinople that the legendary Orient Express arrived from Paris, which Agatha Christie made famous in her detective story. Part of that legendary train stands at the wall of the station, and inside there is a small (and, by the way, free) railway museum.
But from the memories of the “Orient Express”, which, like this station, connected the West and the East, let’s move on to a more pronounced oriental flavor. By the way, it is very convenient and interesting to do this with our Travelry audio guide, since from the station we propose to follow the route that almost coincides with the route of the audio tour “ From Constantinople to Istanbul “.
So, not far from the station, if you walk a little to the west, you will see the Valide Sultan Mosque, or New Mosque . It is new, however, only in name – the construction of this building began at the end of the 16th century. This is one of the largest mosques in Istanbul.
One of the most picturesque corners of old Istanbul is located next to the New Mosque. Here you will be enchanted by the aromas of local spices and the bright colors of the Turkish bazaar. This is the old Egyptian Market , which is also called the Spice Market . Today you can find here oriental sweets, food, jewelry, and souvenirs – everything that we associate with the flavor of an oriental bazaar.
A little to the west rises another interesting, albeit little-known Rustem Mosque -pasha . Few tourists reach this structure, which is much smaller than the more famous “giants”. But this is the creation of the legendary architect of the 16th century Sinan, magnificently decorated with Iznik tiles with geometric and floral patterns.
The next point will be another mosque, this time famous and grandiose in all respects. This is the gorgeous Suleymaniye – one of the main and largest mosques in Istanbul. The architect Sinan was not stingy in assessing his own creation and said that this mosque will stand forever! It bears the name of the famous sultan-commander Suleiman the Magnificent, and it is here, on the territory of the necropolis of the mosque, that there are tombs (turbes) of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, whose army in the 16th century terrified peoples from Algeria to Spain, and his beloved wife Roxolana, known in East as Alexandra Anastasia Lisowska (“laughing”). We will certainly tell you interesting facts about these amazing personalities in our audio guide.
By the way, the mosque is located on one of the hills of Istanbul, and from the north side there is a magnificent panorama overlooking Bosphorus and city.
We were so carried away by Ottoman history and architecture that we completely forgot about Constantinople. But it was in this part of the city that the Byzantine capital was located, and in the Old City you can still see interesting Byzantine sights of Istanbul. For example, not far from Suleymaniye, within a few minutes walk along narrow old streets, stands the Church of St. Theodore , which is more than 800 years old. And although it was turned into a mosque under the Ottomans, you can still recognize an example of late Byzantine architecture in the appearance of the building.
Nearby there is another building of the Byzantine era with a difficult and very long history. Once upon a time there were ancient Roman baths on this place, then – several successive churches, and the abode of dervishes, and finally, a mosque. This is the former Byzantine Church of Our Lady of Kiriotissa, it is also the Kalerhane Mosque .
Let’s continue our walk through the Old City and take a look at the Shehzade Mosque is a fine example of classical Ottoman architecture, one of the first and best creations of the famous Sinan.
And then we will reach Beyazit Square and again “return” to Byzantium. More precisely, today on this square there is little reminiscent of that distant era. However, it was here that the Forum of Theodosius was once located, one of the centers of social and political life of Constantinople, surrounded by magnificent palaces and churches. Along the tram tracks on Ordu Street, in the Istanbul University area, you can see minor fragments of the Feodosius Arch and the remains of other Byzantine structures.
Back in 1500, a mosque began to be erected on the ruins of the Feodosia forum, which today is one of the oldest in Istanbul! Moreover, it has been standing for 500 years, practically unchanged. This is Bayezid Mosque .