To delve right into the history of this intriguing city, start underground. The subterraneous creation is the largest Byzantine Cistern in Istanbul. Built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, this cavernous space is breath-taking, packed with grandeur and a fantastic location to take in the history of this corner of the city. Once able to store thousands of litres of water, before becoming a forgotten piece of history, the cistern is now fully restored and is one of the most popular places to visit in the city.
The Topkapi Palace has an exterior almost as colourful and vibrant as its past. Built in the 15th century, the palace has seen swathes of rulers live within its walls. Now a museum, you can head inside the formidable looking entrance of the palace and wander through the rooms, learning about the many sultans who lived here.
Commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century (around the same time as the Basilica Cistern), this awe-inspiring structure has seen a rich and varied history. Originally consecrated as a church, then converted into a mosque almost a thousand years later, before finally declared a museum in the 20th century, this is a building that packs huge religious importance. For hundreds of years, this building was the setting for the crowning of Byzantine emperors, a place of worship and a glorious representation of architectural innovation.
With sky blue domes piled high and soaring minarets at every corner, the Blue Mosque is an unmissable piece of Istanbul’s history. The grand passion project of Sultan Ahmet I, the mosque was designed to feature thousands of sparkling blue tiles, earning it the moniker Blue Mosque and an iconic place in the city’s skyline. Head inside to experience the grandeur of the building. Still an active place of worship, the sacred atmosphere of the interior only adds to the drama and design of the mosque.
As one of the oldest settlements in the world and the capital of a variety of empires, Istanbul has a vibrant history to discover. With monuments, ancient buildings and significant finds at every turn, you’ll struggle to find another city with such rich and varied past.
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