When talking about Istanbul’s most important attractions the first things that spring to mind are the popular sights of Sultanahmet such as the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, and Grand Bazaar. However, Istanbul has so many more sights that shouldn’t be missed after experiencing the usual tourist attractions.
Famous for its breathtaking Byzantine frescoes and mosaics that depict the life of Christ and are remarkably well kept, despite the fact that the church-turned-museum was constructed around the 4th century.
Architecture Museum, History Museum
After inhabiting the Topkapı Palace for more than 400 years, Sultan Adbulmejid I decided to move the court to the grand Dolmabahçe Palace due to its location by the Bosphorus and its more European style of décor and architecture, which was quite popular during that time.
Known as the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Cami in Turkish, this stunning mosque was named after the Ottoman sultan Mehmed the Conqueror who captured Constantinople in 1453. Built between 1463 and 1470, and later rebuilt in 1771 after a major earthquake, the structure also had a school of traditional Islamic sciences, which was established by the Persian astronomer Ali Qushii
The mosaics on the roof of the Theotokos Pammakaristos Church | © G.dallorto
Quite the unknown Byzantine church in Istanbul, Theotokos Pammakaristos
is a real discovery especially because it has the third-largest amount of beautiful Byzantine frescoes and mosaics after the Chora Church and Hagia Sophia.
Phanar Greek Orthodox College
Rising like a red castle above the historic neighborhood of Balat and Fener,
the Phanar Greek Orthodox College still has a few students and harks back to a time when the neighborhood was inhabited by the wealthy Greek Orthodox families of Istanbul.
The intricate dome of the Kalendarhane Mosque | © Darwinek
Another beautiful but largely unknown mosque in Istanbul that stands out with its red brick interior, Kalendarhane was originally an Eastern Orthodox church, which was later converted into mosque.
One of the many beautiful palaces around Istanbul that served the leisure of the Ottoman sultans, Beylerbeyi is often overlooked because of its location on the Asian side, but its embellished architecture, lavish décor and beautiful garden are very much worth a visit.
If you ever crossed the Bosphorus Bridge and took a long gaze at the city, then you probably saw the beautiful Ortaköy Cami, which stands right next to the water’s edge and was built in 1721.
Zeki Paşa Yalısı
Istanbul’s Bosphorus mansions are very famous and the best way to see them is by taking a boat tour that goes up and down the famous strait. On your way past the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, make sure to take a good look at this beautiful mansion that was built by the French architect Alexandre Vallaury and is currently on sale (for quite the price of course).
Bulgarian St. Stephen Church
One of the last churches in the world to be made entirely of prefabricated cast iron, the Bulgarian St. Stephen Church was recently renovated and revealed to the faithful in all its ornately beautiful glory.
The marble main bath hall of the Çağaloğlu Hamam | © Çağaloğlu Hamam
No visit to Istanbul is complete without experiencing the Turkish Bath and the historic Çağaloğlu Hamam is the perfect place to do so because it’s like a journey back in time to the 18th century when the hamam was built.
Grand Post Office
Many people who wander the historic quarter often walk past this building without a second look, but this gorgeous structure, built by architect Vedat Tek in the style of the First Turkis National architectural movement, is a gem from 1905.
Cafe, Turkish, $$$
Boza is a traditional Turkish drink made from fermented wheat or millet that is topped with chickpeas and the best place to try it is at Vefa Bozacısı, which has remained largely unchanged since its opening in 1876.
The former armory built during the reign of Ottoman sultan Mehmed II, Tophane-i Amire is where cannons and cannonballs were manufactured and also why the neighborhood is called Tophane (dwelling of the cannons). The beautiful structure now serves as an art center run by the Minar Sinan Fine Arts School where exhibitions and events are held frequently.
Even though the Yanaros Mansion on Büyükada has largely surrendered to the forces of nature (but continues to be on sale), it’s a very important sight due to the fact that it served as the home of Leon Trotsky
between the years of 1929 to 1933.