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 Hagia Sophia, Istanbul: Universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world © Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism

 

Visitors should remember to dress modestly when touring around Istanbul, (men should not wear shorts and women should cover thighs, shoulders, tops of upper arms and hair) as some of the attractions around Istanbul are also religious centres.

Istanbul’s main sites can get very crowded which attracts pickpockets. Ensure that you keep an eye on your valuables and personal belongings at all times.

Major political protests can take place. You'll be safe, but it would be best to follow the local news and to avoid the areas where protests are taking place.

 

Istanbul Museum Pass

The Museum Pass is a card that provides access to historical museums and cultural points of interest in Istanbul. It is valid for either 3 or 5 days, which starts from the moment it is first used. A MüzeKart is similar, but is for Turkish citizens/residence permit holders only. Children under 12 years old have free access so do not need a card.

The 3-day card (85 TL per person) gives the holder access to the following areas of interest:

·  Hagia Irene

· Hagia Sophia

· Istanbul Archaeological Museums

·  Istanbul Mosaic Museum

·  Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam

·  Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

·  Topkapi Palace (the Harem within the palace is not included)

 

The Five Day Pass (115 TL per person) has the following additional venues:

· Chora Church or Mosaic Museum

· Fethiye Museum

· Galata Mevlevi House Museum

· Rumeli Hisar Museum

· Yıldız Palace Museum

 

Either card also gives 10-20% discounts at various shops and other sightseeing spots

The most important advantage is that the holder does not have to queue for tickets or to enter a museum.

www.muze.gov.tr/buy_museum_pass  

 

Basilica Cistern

This is the largest of the many ancient cisterns lying beneath the streets of Istanbul. It was cleaned and renovated in 1985 by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and opened to the public in 1987. It's now one of the Istanbul’s most popular and most unusual tourist attractions.

 

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque)

The Blue Mosque is an historical mosque with blue interior tiles surrounding the walls. It was built between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. As it is an active mosque it is closed to non-worshipers for around 30 minutes five times a day during prayers.

 

Cemberlitas Hamami

A visit to Istanbul is not complete without sampling a Turkish bath. This hamam is next to the Grand Bazaar, so it is ideally situated for those exhausted shoppers who have been involved in some serious haggling in the Bazaar.

Unlike some hamams in Istanbul the baths are divided by sex.

 

Galata Bridge

This bridge is one of the best places in Istanbul to photograph sunsets.

 

Galata Tower

The Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower in the Galata/Karaköy quarter of Istanbul. It is a high, cone-capped cylinder that offers a panoramic vista of Istanbul's historic peninsula. It is open from 09:00 until 20:00.

 

Hagia Irene

Hagia Irene is a former Eastern Orthodox Church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace. Sometimes known as Saint Irene it is now open as a museum every day except Tuesday. It is also used for concerts.

 

Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Ayasofya)

This was a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmed when it was converted into mosque. This is how it remained for nearly 500 years until Atatürk and the Council of Ministers in 1935 ordered that it will be converted into a museum.

Hagia Sophia is the one of the most visited museums and most prominent monuments in the world in terms of art and the history of architecture. The museum is closed on Mondays and some religious holidays.

 

Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Over one million objects from almost all the eras and civilizations in world history are housed by this group of three museums in the Eminönü district of Istanbul. The three museums are; the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Museum of Islamic Art.

 

Istanbul Mosaic Museum

This museum is close to Sultanahmet Square. It houses mosaics from the Byzantine period which were unearthed by Turkish archaeologists from the Scottish University of St Andrews during excavations at the Arasta Bazaar between 1935-1938 and 1951-1954.

 

Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

This museum holds Turkish and İslamic Arts and was the last museum to open in the Otoman Period.

 

Taksim Square

Taksim Square is considered to be the heart of modern Istanbul, and is the location of the Monument of the Republic. This monument commemorates the 5th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. It is also is famed for its restaurants, shops, and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

 

Topkapi Palace

Now a museum, Topkapi Palace was the home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. The first part to see on a visit here should be the Harem (as only a certain number of visitors are allowed at a time). The Treasury in the 3rd courtyard has a display of incredible gems, gold, and works of art.

 

 

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