Stand in front of this beautiful building and you’ll understand why it has long defined Istanbul’s skyline. Built between 532 and 537 AD, Hagia Sophia is the city’s extraordinary Byzantine cathedral-cum-museum. Its breathtaking interior is equally as amazing as its striking exterior. Wander the enormous rooms and study the mosaics that make it so famous, before heading up to the galleries on the upper level for the best internal views of this iconic landmark.
Explore the beauty of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia’s sapphire-tinged neighbour. Formerly known as Sultanahmet Camii, the masterpiece of Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa dazzles visitors at first glance with a series of cascading domes and six slender minarets. Stroll around and spot ceilings embellished with intricate floral patterns, see 260 stained glass windows up close and be awe-struck by 20,000 glittering Iznik tiles.
Escape the heat of the city and take your adventures underground with a visit to the eerie Basilica Cistern. Located on the site of a former basilica, the subterranean Byzantine cistern was built during the 5th century as a reservoir for Istanbul. Wander between 336 grand columns that comprise the beautifully symmetrical cavern and enjoy the peaceful ambience created by the soft lighting and cool underground breeze.
Explore a treasure trove of history at Topkapı Palace, the majestic former home of generations of sultans and their wives. Surrounded by lush courtyards, impressive walls and 27 fairy tale towers, the Ottoman sight packs in historical beauty at every corner. Walk through the looming Imperial Gate and explore a maze of buildings and gardens, before soaking up breathtaking views over the Sea of Marmara, Bosphorus and Golden Horn.
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