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Istanbul Guide: 11 Historical Places to See in Istanbul

10/03/2021 Istanbul Guide: 11 Historical Places to See in Istanbul

Istanbul is a unique cultural heritage with its unique architecture and fascinating historical texture. Come on, discover the Istanbul historical sites right now!

1. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was built in Istanbul Sarayburnu in 1478 by Mehmet the conqueror. The palace is the palace where the Ottoman sultans lived and used as the administrative center of the state for 400 years of the 600-year history of the Ottoman Empire. Around 4,000 people once lived in it. There are hundreds of priceless historical artifacts in the same place. From this point of view, we can say that Topkapi Palace is one of the most important places to see in Istanbul.

How to go to Topkapi Palace?

Topkapi Palace is open from Wednesday to Monday between 09:00 and 18:00 throughout the year. We recommend that you take the tram to Topkapi Palace. The nearest tram stop is at Gulhane station, which is only a 10-minute walk from the palace. Otherwise, you can also book a taxi that will drop you off right in front of the palace.

You can also reach here by taking buses from 28T, 30D, 46Ç, 47E, 99A, BN1, and EM1.

2. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, like every great empire, is one of the biggest historical structures that symbolizes the power of the empire and surprises most local and foreign tourists with its splendor. Hagia Sophia, built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and later converted into a mosque by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, is one of the most important historical places visited by many heads of state during their visit to Istanbul.

How to go to Hagia Sophia?

Buses to Hagia Sophia pass through two stops. To go to Hagia Sophia by bus, paying attention to whether the bus you want to take passes through these two stops is necessary. To reach Hagia Sophia, buses must stop at one of the Eminonu or Aksaray stations. After getting off the bus at one of these stops, it is possible to go to Hagia Sophia by tram quickly. 

It is possible to reach Hagia Sophia by many different public vehicles. However, the fastest way to Hagia Sophia is by tram. While going to Hagia Sophia by tram, you should get off at Gulhane or Sultanahmet station. After a five-minute walk, you can reach Hagia Sophia.

3. Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is the largest closed cistern in Istanbul. It is entered from the small building to the west of the Hagia Sophia building. The ceiling of the place, which has the appearance of a column forest, is brick-built and cross-vaulted. Again, this place is one of the places that should be seen with its historical structure and mystery. Do not leave without seeing the Medusa statue on your visit.

How to go to the Basilica Cistern?

Getting to the Basilica Cistern is extremely easy. You can go to the Basilica Cistern, centrally located, by using the Kabatas - Bagcilar tram line. After getting off the Sultanahmet station, you can reach the cistern within a 3-minute walk. If you want to visit the Basilica Cistern from the Anatolian side, you can go to the cistern by taking the ferry to Besiktas or Kabatas and getting off at Sultanahmet by tram. It is located in the same location as Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque and has transportation within walking distance.

4. Galata Tower

Galata Tower is a tower located in the Galata district of Istanbul. The building, built in 528, is among the important symbols of the city. The Bosphorus and the Golden Horn can be viewed panoramically from the tower. If you want to watch all over Istanbul from one place, you should stop by here. Since the area is very narrow, visiting this place in the early hours will make your visit more enjoyable.

How to go to Galata Tower?

If you are coming from the Eminonu, Vatan, or Sirinevler route, you will see the Galata Tower when you take the Kabatas-Bagcilar tram and get off at the Karakoy stop, turn your back to the sea and look across. You can reach the tower by climbing the big slope in the middle. You can also use the same tram from the Kabatas direction. You will get off at the Karakoy stop and meet Galata at the end of the steep slope. For those who want to go by bus, you can reach Galata with all the lines that travel to Karakoy. It will be enough to get off at Karakoy station. I am writing a few lines passing through Karakoy for you;

  • 26 Dikilitas -Eminonu

  • 26A Fulya Neighborhood-Eminonu

  • 26B Gayrettepe-Eminonu

  • 28 Topkapi/Edirnekapi-Besiktas

  • 28T Topkapi-Besiktas

5. Gulhane Park

Gulhane Park was used as one of the private gardens of Topkapi Palace during the Ottoman period. It is a historical park located in the Eminonu district of the Fatih district of Istanbul. Alay Mansion is located between Topkapi Palace and Sarayburnu. Gulhane Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Istanbul, which attracts a lot of attention from both local and foreign tourists with its beautiful gardens, flowers, pools, and recreation areas. There is also one of the most fantastic and unique museums in the world called the Islamic Science and Technology History Museum in the park.

How to go to Gulhane Park?

Getting to Sirkeci is very easy. IETT (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality) Municipal Buses operate from many parts of Istanbul to Sirkeci and Eminonu. It is a 5-minute walk from Eminonu to Sirkeci. It is possible to easily reach Kabatas by tram from Kadikoy and Uskudar, by the Cityline Ferries from Kadıkoy and Uskudar, by Marmaray from Uskudar, by Tram (T1 line) between Bagcilar and Kabatas from Kabatas, and by funicular from Taksim. 

You can check the Istanbul Rail Systems Map for rail systems, IETT Line and Stop Search for IETT Municipality Bus times and stops, and the Istanbul City Lines Ferry Services page for city line ferries.

6. Dolmabahce Palace

The construction of Dolmabahce Palace started in 1843 and ended in 1856. The palace is located on an area of 250,000 m² in Besiktas, Istanbul, between Dolmabahce Street, stretching from Kabatas to Besiktas and the Bosphorus. Dolmabahce Palace was used as an area where the Ottoman Captain-Darya anchored ships during the imperial period, and then it was turned into a private garden. In the Republican period, it is of great importance as the place where Atatürk stayed during his visits to Istanbul and passed away.

How to go to Dolmabahce Palace?

Dolmabahce Palace is located in the Besiktas district of Istanbul Province, between Besiktas and Kabatas and on the Bosphorus. Both Besiktas and Kabatas Pier are allowed for 10 minutes. 20 minutes walking distance to Taksim Square. Also, take the 25T Sariyer - Taksim, 559C Rumeli Fortress - Taksim, 110 Kadikoy - Taksim, 112 Bostanci - Taksim, DT2 Ortakoy - Taksim buses, etc., and get off at the Dolmabahce Palace at the Inonu Stadium bus stop. It is faster for people coming from the Anatolian side to go to Besiktas or Kabatas by motor or ferry.

7. Rumeli Fortress

Rumeli Fortress is the fortress that gives its name to the district on the Bosphorus in the Sariyer district of Istanbul. Rumeli Fortress, built during the Ottoman period to pull the rope from the Anatolian Fortress during the Conquest of Istanbul, is one of the indispensable places of today. There are 3 towers inside the fortress. 

The leftmost tower was named Zağanos, the middle one was named Halil, and the right one was named Saruca. The timber used in the construction of the fortress came from Zonguldak - Eregli, and Iznik, while the limes and stones were taken from different Byzantine structures.

How to go to Rumeli Fortress?

There are a few different alternatives if you are going to Rumeli Fortress via the Anatolian side. You can take the Besiktas ferry departing from Kadikoy Pier and then use one of the buses numbered 22, 22RE, 25E, 40, 40T, and 42T passing through Bahcesehir University stop to go from Besiktas to Ortakoy. You can reach the fortress by getting off the bus at the Rumeli Hisarı stop.

8. Maiden’s Tower