Get and see the best and top ten Istanbul Sights for 2020! Before you arrive at Istanbul, check out our Istanbul sights trip list!

 

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Istanbul is definitely one of the most beautiful big cities in the world and extends over two continents.

Istanbul’s unique geographical location, it is often getting referred to as a city between the Orient and the Occident.

Istanbul is characterized by its long history, which has always been getting located between the continents.

Istanbul has served in the history successively as the capital of the Roman EmpiresByzantine Empires, and Ottoman Empires for almost 1600 years.

Today you will find an extraordinary number of historic buildings and special features leftover from those times in the city on the strait between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Let us check out the Top Ten Best Istanbul Sights 2020 you should not miss during your trip to Istanbul.

 

Top Ten and Best Istanbul Sights Trip List Of 2020

Visit the top ten Istanbul best places with our trip list of 2020.

 

1. Bosphorus

Bosphorus Golden Horn Istanbul
Bosphorus Golden Horn Istanbul – Image by Wolfgang Reindl from Pixabay

Golden Horn Istanbul

Of course, a trip across the Bosporus should not be missing on your journey to Istanbul. The strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and is also a strait between Europe and Asia.

Its the location where the Galata Tower is getting located as well!

Where else do you getting the chance to move so freely between two continents?

Enjoy the view of shores of city Istanbul on both sides. The Asian and the European side, during a trip on the public ferry or one of the guided boat tours.

On the way, both the public and private boat tours stop at different ferry terminals, so you will have time to change and see different parts of Istanbul.

 

2. Taksim Square

Taksim Square - Main traffic center in Istanbul
Taksim Square – Main traffic center in Istanbul – Image by Samuele Schirò from Pixabay

Main traffic center in Istanbul

Taksim Square is the leading traffic junction on the European side of Turkey and the location of the Republic’s monument.

Taksim Square has always been an essential place in the history of Istanbul.

In the past, there was even a 23-kilometer long long-distance water pipeline that transported water from the north into the city and became a water distribution plant here.

In the western part of the square, you will find the Monument of the Republic, which was erected in 1928 and commemorates the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

You will also find the Gezi-Park here. This city park is one of the few green areas in downtown Istanbul.

 

3. Yildiz Park

Yildiz Park - City park in Istanbul
Yildiz Park – City park in Istanbul – Image by Dosseman from commons.wikimedia.org

City park in Istanbul

If you need a break or a stop from the hustle of the tourist crowds around Istanbul’s sights and are looking for some space to breathe, we recommend a visit to Yildiz Park.

This “Star Park,” as it is getting called in English, is one of the largest parks in the metropolis on the Bosporus with an area of 160 hectares.

You will find it on the European side of the city, directly on the banks of the Bosporus.

Stroll past beautiful flower beds and under exotic trees.

In the park, you will find various pavilions from the 19th and 20th century, which you can visit and some of which serve as cafés and restaurants.

Initially, the park was reserved for the Sultan and not open to the public.

Since the foundation of the Republic, this situation has fortunately changed.

The park also has an artificial lake with fountains and water features.

It creates an extraordinary atmosphere.

Take advantage of your visit to Yildiz Park for a short break and relax in the green lungs of Istanbul.

 

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4. Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar - Spices market Istanbul
Grand Bazaar – Spices market Istanbul – Image by Bahnfrend from commons.wikimedia.org

Spices market Istanbul

If you want to experience and see a real Turkish Bazaar, then you should visit the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (Kapalıçarşı).

Since the 15th century, shortly after the Ottoman conquest, it has been the most convenient shopping and trading place in Istanbul.

Almost every day, up to half a million people cavort in its 20,000 square meters.

Around 4000 shops await customers here daily.

Enter the hustle and bustle and explore the colorful market hustle and bustle.

 

5. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia - St. Joseph's Church in Istanbul
Hagia Sophia – St. Joseph’s Church in Istanbul

St. Joseph’s Church in Istanbul

The second world-famous sight in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia.

It was built in the 6th century AD as a domed basilica by the Roman Emperor Justinian.

After the Ottomans had conquered Byzantium, they turned the church into a mosque.

Since 1935 the Hagia Sophia has been a secular building and is used as a museum.

The imposing building is getting located only 500 meters away from the Blue Mosque, and together with it dominates the skyline of Istanbul.

Inside the former mosque, you can find traces of both the Byzantine and the Ottoman use.

Thus the character and the long history of the sacred building between the different religions should be made visible for all.

In late antiquity and the history of the Middle Ages, the Hagia Sophia was considered the eighth wonder of the world. 

 

6. Maiden’s Tower

Maiden's Tower - Lighthouse in Istanbul
Maiden’s Tower – Lighthouse in Istanbul – Image by Halil İbrahim Zengin from Pixabay

Lighthouse in Istanbul

It’s one of the landmarks of the city of Istanbul – the Maiden’s Tower.

The tower dates back to the 18th century and is located about 180 meters off the coast of the district Üsküdar.

Over the years, the Maiden’s Tower has served as a lighthouse, optical telegraph, quarantine station, customs station, and retirement home for naval officers.

It’s getting said that this is where one end of the legendary chain was attached, which was supposedly getting stretched across the Bosporus during attacks.

The other end was attached to the Mangana Palace. The Maiden’s Tower was getting located in the former Byzantium, the Manganga Palace in the old Constantinople.

Today both cities have grown together to form Istanbul.

The name Leander Tower goes back to the legend of the Leander, who swam to his beloved every night.

In one night, however, the torch that usually lit his way was extinguished.

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He got lost and drowned.

When his beloved Hero found him dead on the shore the next day, she also threw herself into the floods of the sea.

In Turkish, the tower is called the “Girl’s Tower (Kız Kulesi).”

This name is getting derived from the story of a princess: 

“A fortune-teller foretold her death by poisoning. To protect her, her father locked her in the tower. There she was bitten by a snake and died. The snake had entered the tower in a fruit basket.”

 

7. Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace - Once Sultan's Palace in Istanbul
Dolmabahce Palace – Once Sultan’s Palace in Istanbul – Image by Samuele Schirò from Pixabay

Once Sultan’s Palace in Istanbul.

You will find the magnificent palace directly on the banks of the Bosporus on the European side of Istanbul.

The “Palace of Full Gardens,” as the building is getting called, was the seat of the Ottoman Sultans from 1856.

Before that, they lived in the Topkapi Palace, but due to the increasingly close relations with the rest of Europe, it seemed appropriate for the Sultan to adapt to European standards about his primary residence.

The Dolmabahce Palace measures 600 meters in length and has a surface area of 45,000 square meters. Forty-six halls, 285 rooms, six Hamam, and 68 bathrooms were at the disposal of the Sultan and his entourage.

Today you can visit a part of the rooms, which could not be getting surpassed in splendid and modern equipment.

There were already toilets with water flush and gaslighting. This technology was getting imported from Great Britain.

Visit the uniquely beautifully furnished rooms and halls. The palace is also worth a visit from the outside.

From here you have a magnificent view of the old town of Istanbul.

 

8. Cisterna Basilica

Cisterna Basilica - Ancient water reservoir in Instanbul
Cisterna Basilica – Ancient water reservoir in Instanbul – Image by Dpnuevo from commons.wikimedia.org

Ancient water reservoir in Instanbul

This Istanbul sightseeing brings you under the earth of the metropolis.

In ancient Byzantium, it was used as an underground cistern and was the water reservoir for the Great Palace.

It is about 138 meters long and 65 meters wide.

In total, the Cisterna Basilica, which was getting built between 532 and 542, is supported by 336 columns about eight meters high.

The entrance to the impressive underworld is getting located close to the Hagia Sophia. It appears a little inconspicuous from the outside.

The more impressive is the view when you descend into the Sunken Palace (Yerebatan Sarayı ).

Especially worth seeing are the two Medusa heads carved out of stone. They were getting used as pedestals for two of the columns. 

They had a different purpose. As the columns were defective, they were getting used as a building material for the extension of the column hall.

 

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9. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace - Seraglio Large Museum In Istanbul
Topkapi Palace – Seraglio Large Museum In Istanbul – Image by Arif Yasa from Pixabay

Seraglio Large Museum In Istanbul

The Topkapi Palace was getting built from around 1459. On the tip of the country between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara.

For centuries it served as the residence and seat of government for the sultans and was the administrative seat of the Ottoman Empire.

The mighty complex has a total of four courtyards and is getting used as a museum.

It received its present appearance at the beginning of the 18th century.

The Topkapi Palace has a total area of 69 hectares, including buildings and gardens. At times about 5000 people lived here.

Since 1923, Topkapi Palace has been getting used as a museum.

You can see porcelain collections, manuscripts, portraits, jewels, and robes as well as weapons from the Ottoman Empire.

You can also find Islamic relics, such as the weapons of Mohammed, one of the oldest Koranic copies, and even beard hairs of the Prophet Mohammed.

 

10. Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque - Historical mosque in Istanbul
Blue Mosque – Historical mosque in Istanbul – Image by marcelehannaan from Pixabay

Historical mosque in Istanbul.

Its getting called Sultan Ahmed Mosque, but most people probably know it as the Blue Mosque.

The 17th-century building owes this name to the blue and white tiles that dominate the interior of the building.

Sultan Ahmed Camii is a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture and is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

For this reason alone, a visit to this sight of Istanbul is a must.

Inside, you will be greeted by domes and walls that are artfully and richly decorated in detail, against which many a richly decorated Catholic church cannot compete.

The central dome is about 43 meters high, and a total of 260 windows let light into the mosque from outside.

The unique thing about the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is its six minarets.

The number is allegedly due to a misunderstanding between the architect and the Sultan.

The Sultan had demanded that the minarets be getting built of gold (altın).

The architect understood “altı” to mean six and built six minarets.

 

Use the visitors’ entrance for your visit. Also, observe the dress code.

You should cover your shoulders; men must wear long trousers and women should not wear short skirts or shorts and cover their heads.

If you do not have such clothing with you, you can borrow it at the visitors’ entrance.

You must take off your shoes. Plastic bags are available for these.

Opening hours: These are correct after prayer times.

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When you hear the muezzin calling, the mosque is getting closed for about 30 minutes. Also, tourists are not welcome in the Blue Mosque on Friday.

 

FAQ Istanbul

What are the best sights in Istanbul?

These are the best sights in Istanbul: Bosphorus Golden Horn Istanbul Taksim Square, Yildiz Park, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Maiden's Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, Cisterna Basilica, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque.

What're the best outdoor activities in Istanbul?

These are some of the best outdoor activities in Istanbul: Emirgan Park, Bosphorus Strait, Gulhane Park, Haliç, Bebek.

What're the best day trips from Istanbul?

These are one of the best day trips from Istanbul: Istanbul Full Day Excursion to the Old Town, Bursa & Uludag Tour, Full Day Sightseeing Tour on the Bosphorus: Boat Tour to the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, Spice Bazaar, Camlica Hills and Dolmabahce Palace Small-group tour: Standard tour Istanbul, Istanbul Princes' Islands Cruise with lunch - full day.

What are the most popular activities with children in Istanbul?

These are the most popular activities with children in Istanbul: Süleymaniye Mosque, Sultanahmet District, Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque.

 

Conclusion:

Fell free to share the article with those who are interested in a trip to Istanbul!

 

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