Top architectural sightseeing and landmarks of Istanbul - ideas on city exploration routes

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Our suggestion on the way to observe the most important architectural landmarks of Istanbul is very simple – fly, read, watch. Thanks to our original 3D technology of flying over cities, you will be able to “visit” (see the video) and watch the most important architectural landmarks of the city - Hagia Sophia, Suleymaniye Mosque, Galata Tower, Maiden Tower, New Mosque and many others. We have carefully selected the supplementary information for each of them, including interesting historical facts and a collection of photographs. Additionally, we have placed all main sights on the map of Istanbul below, since this information can be useful when you plan your walking routes in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» The name of the cathedral comes from the Greek word ‘sophia’ that means ‘knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’.
» Before looting Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, the Shroud of Turin was kept in the Hagia Sophia.
» There is the famous Crying Column in the Cathedral of St. Sophia; it’s believed that you can fulfill your wishes after touching it.
» For more than a thousand years St. Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople has remained the largest church in Christendom.
» Throughout its history, the Hagia Sophia suffered from earthquakes seven times. Every time after the destruction it was carefully restored.

Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» While constructing this mosque, architect Sinan uttered the famous phrase, "The mosque will stand for eternity."
» Lamps in the mosque are made of ostrich eggs. They became home to a huge family of spiders, which are bred because of herbs, incense and spices in an oil lamp.
» There are many legends associated with the Suleymaniye Mosque. It’s said that a piece of black stone of the Kaaba was placed inside its dome. According to another legend, gems could be found in the minarets of Suleymaniye. Persian Shah has sent gems as a sponsorship to build the mosque; those were meant to gode Sultan Suleiman. The Sultan in anger has ordered to lay these treasures in the masonry of one of the minarets.
» Previously Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul was not only a religious institution, as there were hospital, madrassa, shelter, baths, and a caravanserai.
» Suleymaniye Mosque also houses the tomb of Suleyman the Magnificent and his wife Roxelana.

Galata Tower, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Galata Tower was built in the mid-14th century. Then, it had a different name, the Tower of Christ, and its structure was designed to perpetuate the expansion of the Genoese colony of Constantinople.
» During the reign of Sultan Selim II, Galata Tower was used as an observatory tower.
» Since 1874, it was used as a watchtower. The tower, which was called Big Bastion by the Byzantines, and the Tower of Jesus by the Genoese, has changed its appearance several times during Ottoman era.
» On the seventh floor, you can see the relief image of Hazerfena Ahmet Celebi. He was the first person who managed to fly using homemade wings.
» Galata Tower provides the best view of the Golden Horn, the historic peninsula, the Bosphorus and the Asian coast.

Maiden Tower, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Maiden's Tower in Istanbul was built on the rocks and covered with legends. One legend says that the seer foresaw the death of Sultan’s beloved daughter on her 18th birthday. The Sultan immediately ordered the construction of the tower, as he wanted to protect his daughter. Once the building was ready, the girl was settled to live in the tower. In the eighteenth birthday a basket of fruit was sent to the Sultan's daughter. There was a poisonous snake that bit the girl, so she died.
» Maiden's Tower of Istanbul can be seen on 10 lira bill of 1966-1981 years.
» Earlier the Maiden’s Tower was a prison, but today there is a restaurant.
» There are several versions describing construction of the tower. According to one version, the Maiden’s Tower was built by order of the Athenian general Alcibiades to control the advent of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus Strait. According to other, the tower was built during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great as a watchtower.
» After the capture of the city by the Ottomans, it was decided to build a lighthouse in the tower facing the Sea of Marmara.

New Mosque, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» The New Mosque is one of the biggest mosques of Istanbul.
» The mosque is decorated with 66 domes and two minarets. The height of the main dome is 36 meters.
» Minaret’s height is 52 meters.
» The New Mosque is well lit and decorated with colorful stained glass windows.
» The mosque has a monumental courtyard in the center of which there is an elegant fountain for religious ablutions. The gallery is built around the courtyard.

Ortakoy Mosque, Istanbul

Location on the map:   Facts:
» Ortakoy Mosque is the stunning mosque in the amazing city of Istanbul. Officially, the mosque is known as the Great Mosque Mecidiye.
» Padishahs swam in boats to participate in namaz at Ortakoy.
»  The mosque is located on the cape called by the Byzantines the Key to the Bosphorus.
» Ortakoy Mosque consists of the harem of the Sultan and the personal space. The prayer niche is made of marble and mosaics. One of the features of this mosque is its high and wide windows that let in plenty of sunlight reflected by waters of the Bosphorus, creating a magnificent effect.
» The area adjacent to the mosque had a rather dubious reputation, as frivolous people have lived there.

Church of St Sergius and Bacchus, Istanbul

Location on the map:
Facts: » The Church of St Sergius and Bacchus is one of the oldest surviving churches in Istanbul built in 527-529 years.
» The Church of St Sergius and Bacchus served as the prototype for the Basilica of San Vitale and the Cathedral of St. Sophia (hence the second name of the church, the small Hagia Sofia).
» The church is dedicated to St. Sergius and Bacchus, who were soldiers of the Roman Empire and occupied important positions, until it became clear that they were secret Christians. The soldiers were severely tortured. Then Bacchus was killed, and Sergius was beheaded.
» During the Balkan Wars, thousands of refugees have found shelter here at the church.
» Serious damage to the construction was caused by the immediate vicinity of the railway. For this reason, UNESCO has included the church of St Sergius and Bacchus in the World Heritage List, where endangered objects are mentioned.
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Build your walking routes in Istanbul on the landmark 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

Architectural landmarks in the regions around Istanbul

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