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Best attractions to visit in Istanbul

1. Grand Bazaar - Istanbul view 360

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Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is Istanbul’s most renowned market and is also recognized as one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. It comprises of more than 3,000 shops with more than 60 streets, attracting a crowd of over 250,000 to 400,000 visitors on an everyday basis. Yearly, the Grand Bazaar caters to more than 91 million people, causing it to be listed as the most preferred place to shop in the world. The Grand Bazaar is located in Istanbul’s Fatih district, named after ‘Fatih’, the conqueror of Constantinople. The Bazaar stretches from east to west, with a distance that roughly covers the Beyazit and Nuruosmaniye mosques. The Grand Bazaar came into fruition shortly after the Conquest of Constantinople. Between the year 1455 and 1456, Sultan ‘Fatih’ Mehmed II, ordered that an edifice be erected for the purposes of textile trading and named ‘Cevâhir Bedestan’, or Bedesten of Gems in English. The word ‘bedesten’ was taken from the Persian word ‘Bezestan’, which means ‘market of the cloth sellers’. The market was very close to the Old Palace, which was the palace of the first Sultan. The construction of the marketplace finished in winter season between 1460 and 1461. Over the years, the Bazaar underwent substantial changes, and the major renovation project in 2012 did much to renew the glory of the Ottoman stronghold’s famous Bazaar.

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2. Hagia Sophia - Istanbul view 360

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Hagia Sophia

One of the most important tourist spots in Istanbul is Little Hagia Sophia, which is at only a few minutes’ walk from the great Blue Mosque. The building was originally built by the Emperor Justinian from the Byzantine era as the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus. The church was converted into a mosque in 1500. The building was part of UNESCO’s watch list of endangered monuments, and a lot of hard work has been put into restoring the place. You will see that the place has a new interior and exterior that has been done in Ottoman style and bears no resemblance to the usual Byzantine architecture and design. The restoration work was done carefully, and Hagia Sophia still has certain elements from the 1500s. The place has a unique floor plan that takes the shape of an octagon, and has several columns that have carved marbles. Visitors can pay a visit to the tomb of Huseyin Aga, who was the founder of the mosque. The mosque has a beautiful courtyard that contains a fountain in the centre, and also has several madrassas (religious schools), lodges for dervishes and has shops that sell books, ceramics, and Ottoman manuscripts.

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3. Taksim square - Istanbul view 360

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Taksim square

4. Spice bazaar - Istanbul view 360

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Spice bazaar

5. Bereketzade Street - Istanbul view 360

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Bereketzade Street

6. Sultan Mausoleums - Istanbul view 360

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Sultan Mausoleums

7. Sultan Ahmed Cesmesi - Istanbul view 360

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Sultan Ahmed Cesmesi

8. Sultan Ahmed Park - Istanbul view 360

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Sultan Ahmed Park

9. Mahmut Turbesi ve Haziresi - Istanbul view 360

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Mahmut Turbesi ve Haziresi

10. Basilica Cistern - Istanbul

Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is one of the most magical places we have ever been to. If you don’t know what a cistern is, it is a reservoir for storing water. This particular cistern is no ordinary cistern, as it was made in the 6th century during the Byzantine era. It is one of the most popular attractions in the city and it is easy to see why; there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. Back in those days it is easy to see that practicality wasn’t really the main focus of things. Nowadays if a reservoir is built, it is very industrial looking. The Basilica Cistern, on the other hand, is full of things to marvel at. The columns are absolutely beautiful and feature great art. The reason they look so magical is that they have been affected by water and have a green sheen on them, like submerged items often do. The green shine gives them a mysterious otherworldly look. Don’t be worried though, the cistern is very well maintained and has been renovated often, so there are no safety issues. We wouldn’t recommend missing out on a visit here if you are in Istanbul.

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