When you travel with Dos Plumas to Istanbul these are some of the excellent locations you are able to visit:
1. Hagia Sophia – One of the most famous skyline images in all of history is the amazing massive dome of the Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). It was the architectural wonder of it’s time supported by massive columns some of which were taken from the ancient Temple of Artemis in Ephesus and used to build and rebuild this amazing structure. What was once the center of the Christian Faith in the East was then converted into a Muslim Mosque and is now a museum for all to come and visit. Restoration work has recently revealed the seraphs that adorned the apse above the pillars supporting the great dome of the Hagia Sophia. A must see and by far the most popular tourist site in Istanbul.
Visiting Times: Tuesday – Sunday (9:30-16:30)
2. The Blue Mosque – Built during the time of Sultan Ahmed I the region where you will visit the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Ancient Hippodrome, Basilica Cisterns and Topkapı Palace is named after this one architectural wonder – Sultanahmet. The Sultanahmet Mosque has been dubbed the blue mosque for the beautiful dark blue tiles which adorn it’s interior ceilings and walls. The exterior of the mosque also has a bluish grey tint to it and at night times the history of the mosque can be seen with a laser light show similar to the historical presentation of the Parthenon in Athens. The Blue Mosque is an important aspect of any Istanbul tour.
Visiting Times: Daily (in between times of prayer)
3. Hippodrome – Remember that scene from the film “Ben Hur” when Charlton Hesston races in Rome before Caesar and the forum? Well you can see the location of one of these very famous tracks just outside the courtyard of the Blue Mosque. The very path that horses once raced now acts as a round about parking area and racing track for local taxis and tourists. The center pieces of this horse track are the ancient monolith obelisks gifted to the Romans by the Egyptian Pharaohs. The hieroglyphics can still be seen on these ancient stones. This is a quick stop on the way to or from the Blue Mosque.
Visiting Times: Public Access
4. Basilica Cistern – Just across the street from the Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Mosque lies the entrance to a giant cistern with over 300 pillars supporting the ceiling of this structure the cistern gives visitors a Phantom of the Opera like sense of mystique. At the far back of the cisterns are three pedestals with representations of the Medusa head. These pedestals support the columns furthest from the entrance. The coolness is a nice refuge from the summer heat of the city.
Visiting Times: Daily (9:00-18:30)
5. Topkapı Palace – Just behind the Hagia Sophia, facing the Bosphorus you will find the most famous palace in Turkey, the home of the Sultan’s for close to a thousand years this is one of the most beautiful places in Istanbul. The courtyards and museum are all very beautiful and the view of the Golden Horn is breathtaking. Visit the museum and see the opulence in which the Ottoman Sultans lived. There is also the opportunity to tour the Harem a secondary entrance fee is required and the tours of the Harem begin on the hour and half hour starting at 9:30 and ending at 16:30.
Visiting Times: Wednesday-Monday (9:00-19:00)
6. Grand Bazar – If you like to shop then you’ll be glad to visit the largest shopping complex in Turkey. Stepping through the gates of the Grand Bazaar takes one back to time when products were carried in camel caravans across the historic silk road from the far East and Africa. The European World would come here to procure spices, rice, tea and coffee as well as silk, tobacco and many other luxury goods. Join in the adventure as you haggle over silk rugs and multi colored glass lamp stands. This is a must see for the shopper looking to take back treasures from their trip to Turkey and a classic stop on a Dos Plumas tour of Istanbul.
Visiting Times: Monday – Saturday (8:30-19:00)
7. Dolmabahçe Palace – An optional part of a tour to Istanbul might be the Dolmabahçe Palace famous for being the place where Ataturk spent his dying days. This palace has beautiful grounds and exhibits. It is a good place to go to get a better grasp of modern Turkish history. It is one of the favorite locations to visit for Turks and so you will see many local visitors to this museum.
Visiting Times: Tuesday-Sunday (9:00-16:00)
8. Chora Church – This is one of the most beautiful collections of mosaic art. Located to the North West of Sultanahmet this location is a short drive from the main attractions of an Istanbul tour. Once there you will witness some of the best of Byzantine and Orthodox mosaics. The gold and colored stones are intricately laid in beautiful representations of Christ and his apostles. The restoration work is ongoing but the existing work may be the best collection of Christian mosaic work in all of Turkey.
Visiting Times: Thursday-Tuesday (9:00-16:00)
9. Bosphorus Cruise – While visiting Istanbul it would be a shame to miss the chance to travel along the Bosphorus. This straight is the very geographical specialty that makes Istanbul the center of trade and transportation between the Far East and the West. It is the strategic gate between the sea routes of Russia, India, China and Europe. Consequently it is also a place where many wealthy merchants took up residence and built beautiful palaces along the path that brought them riches and fame. A day trip up and back along the Bosphorus is a relaxing and elegant way to take in this part of Istanbul.
Visiting Times: Arranged by Appointment
10. Princes’ Islands – A refuge from the bustling city of Istanbul is the Princes’ Islands a series of four islands in the Marmara Sea. Located to the South East of the city center of Istanbul and former refuge for several famous historians, authors and politicians. Trostky was exiled to the largest of these four islands in the 1920’s after the Soviet Revolution and several Turkish poets worked and wrote from these beautiful locations. Day trips in the summer are easy and a nice way to relax away from the traffic of a city of over 19 million people.
Visiting Times: Ferry Boat Schedules Found Here
11. Taksim Square – The center of Turkish night life and the coffee culture scene. If you are looking for some place to take a stroll and pass 30,000 people in one go then Taksim Square and Istiklal street are the place for you. A visit to the historic Galata Tower at the end of Istiklal Street will give you a wonderful view across the straight towards the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. Taksim and Istiklal are open at all hours but entrance to the Galata Tower ends at 20:00.
Visiting Times: Public Access
12. Archaeology Museum – Less commonly visited but a treasure in my opinion somewhere that travelers with any interest in the history of Mesopotamia and the Near East should visit. Here you can see the treaty of Kadesh and parts of the walls of Babylon. The site is located just South of Sultanahmet inside the beautiful Gulhane Park. If you have the extra time you should definitely visit this extensive archaeological collection that includes the tomb of Alexander the Great.
Visiting Times: Tuesday–Sunday (9:00-17:00)
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