Istanbul Landmarks and Monuments

(Istanbul, Marmara, Turkey)

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) photographVisitors to Istanbul are greeted by an invigorating dose of cosmopolitan life, set against a backdrop of ancient architecture, landmarks and beautiful monuments. The Hagia Sophia is Istanbul's crowning achievement, standing as the world's largest religious structure for a millennium, until the arrival of the Vatican in Rome during the 17th century.

Around the city of Istanbul, visitors will find relics and landmarks of the Roman Empire (namely the Hippodrome) alongside Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques. Many of these structures evolved slowly over time as new rulers expanded upon ancient structures, and new religions transposed the old.

Close-up picture of the Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

Address: Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey, TR
Tel: +90 212 522 1750
A must-see for all tourists in Istanbul, this ancient basilica was built for Roman Emperor Justinian I and later improved by Emperor Constantine. The dome is 30 metres / 100 foot across, capping what remained the biggest enclosed space in existence for more than a millennium. This majestic structure withstood many conflicts (including a 13th-century crusade) and was later converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. Today, it holds a museum of ancient relics.
Open hours: Tuesday to Sunday - 09:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge

Roman Hippodrome image, showing the towering Obelisk of Theodosius

Roman Hippodrome

Address: Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul, Turkey, TR
Once considered the centre of Constantinople (both during Roman and Byzantine periods), the Roman Hippodrome area often serves as a starting point for tours of Istanbul and has long been one of the city's most famous landmarks.

In antiquity, the Romans staged chariot races here. Although the ancient building no longer stands, you will still find the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Column of Constantine headlining a collection of 4th-century sculptures.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Blue Mosque photograph

Blue Mosque

Address: Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey, TR
Tel: +90 212 518 1319
This Islamic place of worship, known locally as Sultanahmet Cami, was constructed in the 1600s to rival the majesty of Haghia Sophia. The Blue Mosque features six minarets and an opulent interior decorated with sapphire Iznik tiles and elaborate latticework. A summertime sound and light show is held in the courtyard following sunset.
Open hours: daily, November to April - 09:00 to 19:00; May to October - 09:00 to 21:00
Admission: free

Topkapi Palace facade picture

Topkapi Palace

Address: Gülhane Park, Istanbul, Turkey, TR
Tel: +90 212 512 0480
Once serving both as the government seat and summer residence for members of state, the Topkapi Palace is a lavishly decorated palace and reached its peak in the 1500s, when it also served high-ranking members of the military and Ottoman elite. Travelling towards the centre of the complex, visitors to this prominent local landmark pass into ever more lavish courtyards. The fourth and innermost courtyard at Istanbul's must-see Topkapi Palace offers unparalleled views of the Bosphorus Strait.
Open hours: Wednesday to Monday - 09:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge

Basilica Cistern view, showing the elaborate interior

Basilica Cistern

Address: 13 Yerebatan Caddesi, Istanbul, Turkey, TR
Tel: +90 212 522 1259
Emperor Justinian commissioned this underground cistern in the 6th century. Statues of Medussa flank the waters, and the ambient music and low-level lighting combine for an eerie effect. Some visitors bring fish food to share with the cistern's modern-day inhabitants.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 18:30
Admission: charge