As the capital of Turkey, Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in the country for tourists and holiday makers, and there is a wealth of sights and attractions that will more than keep you occupied during your trip. But which of Istanbul’s highlights are an absolute must see?
Here are just four of Istanbul’s top attractions that we think you just have to see should you make the trip to Turkey’s capital.
Aya Sofya (Haghia Sophia)
Meaning the ‘Church of Divine Wisdom’, Aya Sofya was at one time recognised as one of the largest enclosed spaces in the world, and is still considered to be the world’s finest example of Byzantine architecture. Mehmet the Conqueror was so impressed with the building that he dedicated it as a mosque in 1453, which it remained until it was reopened as a museum at the foundation of the Turkish Republic.
Built between 1459 and 1465, Topkapi Palace was both a symbolic and political centre of the Ottoman Empire. During the 16th Century it was home to around 3,000 residents, housing the state administration and military personnel and even a harem, which once housed up to 300 concubines and has several ornate rooms.
Covered or Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı)
This is said to be the largest covered bazaar in the world with 66 different streets and alleys. The Grand Bazaar has over 4,000 shops, a police station, a health centre, 2 mosques and a whole lot more. These days it sells souvenirs and goods such as carpets, gold, leather and ceramics, but its ornate ceilings and labyrinth-like alleyways still give clues to the bazaar’s historical roots.
Mısır Carşısı (Egyptian or Spice Market)
Built during the 17th Century, this L-shaped bazaar was financed by the duty paid on goods from Egypt, hence its name. Originally famed for its exotic spices and oils from the Orient, nowadays the bazaar specialises in dried fruits, caviar and Turkish delight, as well as a selection of souvenirs. The surrounding area is a hub of commercial activity, with local craftspeople and traders selling their goods and produce for the masses.
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