15 Unmissable Attractions in Istanbul

A precious mosaic from the Theotokos Pammakaristos church
A precious mosaic from the Theotokos Pammakaristos church | © G.dallorto / WikiCommons
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.

Dolmabahçe Palace

Museum
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The exterior of the very pomp Dolmabahçe Palace | The exterior of the very pomp Dolmabahçe Palace

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.

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Fatih Mosque

Mosque

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.

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Phanar Greek Orthodox College

School
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The main entrance of the beautiful Phanar Greek Orthodox College | The main entrance of the beautiful 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.

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Zeki Paşa Yalısı

Building

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).

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Tophane-i Amire

Building
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The domes of the formerly Ottoman Tophane-i Amire | The domes of the formerly Ottoman Tophane-i Amire

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.

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Yanaros Mansion

Building
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The beautiful former home of Leon Trotsky overlooking the sea on Büyükada | The beautiful former home of Leon Trotsky overlooking the sea on Büyükada

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.

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