Excursion tour in Istanbul. Top architecture - monuments, castles, temples and palaces

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Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Eyup Sultan Mosque, Dolmabahce Palace, Grand Bazaar, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Yavuz Selim Mosque are the main candidates that compete for the title of the major architectural symbol of Istanbul. Just like in the first part of the guide, you can watch each monument by viewing its colorful 3D model in the Istanbul flyover video on the left. Don’t forget to access our photo gallery and an overview of interesting facts regarding every monument. The map of the most important architecture sights of Istanbul (located below this guide) will help you to create your own sightseeing tour through Istanbul.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the largest and one of the most beautiful mosques of Istanbul. The name ‘Blue Mosque’ it owes to a huge variety of blue and white ceramic tiles used in interior decoration.
» Construction of the mosque has being carried out for 7 years and was completed in 1616.
» The most unusual part of the Blue Mosque is a niche for prayers carved from a huge piece of marble with a black stone, which was brought here from Mecca.
» The mosque has a separate entrance for the Sultan, who came here on a horse. Before the entrance there was a low-strained chain for the passage, so he had to bend down. Thus, he gave praise to God and demonstrated the insignificance of the Sultan before the Almighty.
» When construction of the Blue Mosque was completed, it was found that the most sacred mosque in Islamic world, Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, was caught up in the number of minarets (there were six of them) by Sultan Ahmed Mosque. It was treated as sacrilege, so it was decided to attach another minaret to the Masjid al-Haram to make it to surpass all existing facilities once again.

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Topkapi Palace can be considered the whole city located on the territory of Istanbul, because the total area of the palace is more than 700 thousand square meters, and the length is about 5 kilometers.
» Topkapi Palace houses a vast collection of treasures including jewelry, costumes, weapons and sacred artifacts. Major exhibits include cape and sword of the Prophet Mohammed and his collection of porcelain, which is the third most important in the world.
» The fifth largest diamond in the world, which is set in silver and surrounded by 49 smaller diamonds, is kept in the Treasury of the Palace.
» One of the main attractions of the Palace, Harem, is a protected and prohibited place. Only people, which were very close to the Sultan, including his family, wives, concubines, eunuchs and servants had access there. Entrance to the Harem was strictly forbidden to outsiders; all inside was run by the mother of the Sultan.
» The Palace has being the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.

Eyup Sultan Mosque, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Eyup Sultan Mosque is built on the place of burial of the standard-bearer of the Prophet Muhammad, Eyup Ansari, who was killed at the siege of Constantinople.
» There is a tradition concerning the throne succession. According to it, the future ruler certainly must visit Eyup Sultan Mosque, where he will wear the legendary blade once belonged to the founder of the dynasty of Osman Gazi and, only then, he will be declared the ruler of the Muslims.
» Today, the holy Muslim relics are carefully preserved inside the mausoleum; the footprint of the Prophet Muhammad stands among them.
» It’s simply impossible not to notice shadyrvan, the ritual ablutions fountain, at the entrance of the mosque. It’s intended for the girdling the sword ceremony.
» The mosque was often subjected to destruction and reconstruction. The most devastating was an earthquake of 1766. Sultan Selim the Third decided to demolish the almost destroyed mosque and rebuild it anew.

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Ceilings and walls of Dolmabahce are decorated with hundreds of kilograms of gold. Interior chambers are decorated with antique French furniture. The palace has the room completely made of crystal. The bath here is of marble and carpets of silk.
» All clocks in Dolmabahce Palace show 9.05 am. This time is a time of death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Ottoman and Turkish reformer). He died there November 10, 1938.
» The name of the palace translates as ‘filled garden’.
»  The ceiling of the main hall of Dolmabahce is decorated with the chandelier weighting four and a half tons. It was a gift of Queen Victoria.
» Dolmabahce Palace is adorned with paintings of the Russian artist Ivan Aivazovsky. Sultan Abdul Hamid II ordered about 40 works depicting the Bosphorus, the sea, and views of the city. The artist received the highest Turkish award, Osmani order, decorated with diamonds.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» One of the largest covered markets in the world, Grand Bazaar, is situated in the old part of Istanbul. It covers a huge area, which is 30,700 square meters. There are more than 4,000 shops in 66 street of the market.
» Until the mid-19th century Grand Bazaar was the center of the slave trade.
» The labyrinth of the Grand Bazaar has everything, including ceramics, gold, silver, jewelry, shawls, scarves, charms, carpets, kilims and much more.
» The number of visitors reaches half a million a day.
» You can bargain there, like at any other bazaar. Initial price will certainly cause a shock in unexperienced buyers, but you shouldn’t hesitate to bargain, as this situation is observed in many places. So if the owner of the shop sees that person is really interested in a certain product, he probably will lower the price.

Beylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Beylerbeyi Palace was built in 1861 as a summer residence and a place to entertain heads of state. Translated from the Turkish, its name means ‘Lord of lords’.
» Beylerbeyi Palace was visited by famous rulers as Nasreddin Shah of Persia, the Russian Prince Nicholay, the Duke of Windsor. French Empress Eugenie was so delighted with the splendor of the palace, that she ordered an exact copy of windows for her bedroom in the Tuileries in Paris.
» There are 26 rooms and three floors in Beylerbeyi Palace. It’s divided into separate sections for men and women, including the harem.
» The wooden base of Beylerbeyi palace was partially destroyed by fire. After a while, the new sultan ordered to destroy the old structure completely and build a new palace.
» Floor of Beylerbeyi is covered with reeds specially brought from Egypt. In winter it has to protect from moisture and humidity, and from heat in summer.

Yavuz Selim Mosque, Istanbul

Location on the map:
Facts: » Yavuz Selim Mosque is the Ottoman imperial mosque built in honor of the Ottoman sultan Yavuz Selim.
» The mosque is located at the top of the fifth city hill. Its terrace offers a magnificent view of the Golden Horn.
» Dimensions and geographic location of the mosque make it an important place and a landmark of Istanbul.
» Yavuz Selim Mosque is the second oldest imperial mosque in Istanbul.
» The shrine was built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in memory of his father, Selim, who died in 1520.
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Plan your own tour over Istanbul on the monuments map

More to see in Istanbul
Istanbul is home to numerous old buildings and religious sites. Hagia Sophia Cathedral is one of the most popular places of interest among tourists. It was built in the beginning of the 6th century. After the capture of Constantinople the great cathedral was converted into a mosque. In 1934 the building of the cathedral was turned into a museum. Nowadays visitors can see here priceless collections of art objects. The mosque of Sultanahmet is a more recent religious monument. The building of the masque was completed in 1616. This is one of the most beautiful mosques of the city, which is famous not only by its elegant architecture, but also by carefully selected interior decoration. Travelers should also not forget to visit Sultanahmet Meydanı – the most famous square of the city and an ancient hippodrome. During the reign of emperors the square was the venue for gladiator fights. Thousands of townspeople gathered here to watch this exciting spectacle. Fans of excursions will find much interesting in visiting Yedikule fortress, which now hosts the exhibition of a museum. The castle was built by Byzantine craftsmen and was long used as a prison. Today in several halls of the fortress you will find collections of antique torture instruments. The museum is open for all guests. The building of beautiful Dolmabahce Palace was completed in 1853. The palace has the right to be considered the most luxurious palace of the city. As many as 14 tons of gold and 40 tons of silver were … Read further

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