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A precious mosaic from the Theotokos Pammakaristos church
A precious mosaic from the Theotokos Pammakaristos church | © G.dallorto / WikiCommons
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15 Unmissable Attractions in Istanbul

Picture of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Updated: 27 March 2018
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.

Chora Church

Church, Museum
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The Anastasis fresco inside the Chora Church
The Anastasis fresco inside the Chora Church | © Till Niermann / WikiCommons
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.
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Dolmabahçe Palace

Architecture Museum, History Museum
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The exterior of the very pomp Dolmabahçe Palace
The exterior of the very pomp Dolmabahçe Palace | © Abhijeet Rane / Flickr
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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Tue - Wed:
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Fri - Sun:
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Fatih Mosque

Mosque
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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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Services & Activities:

Worship services

Atmosphere:

Historical Landmark

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 | © Vmenkov / WikiCommons
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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Beylerbeyi Palace

Museum
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View of the Beylerbeyi Palace's exterior
View of the Beylerbeyi Palace's exterior | © Kyle / Flickr
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.
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Tue - Wed:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri - Sun:
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Zeki Paşa Yalısı

Building
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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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Bulgarian St. Stephen Church

Church
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Istanbul's most famous iron church the St. Stephen Church
Istanbul's most famous iron church the St. Stephen Church | © Darwinek / WikiCommons
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.
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Çağaloğlu Hamam

Health Spa
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The marble main bath hall of the Çağaloğlu Hamam
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.
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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 | © Ggia / WikiCommons
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 | © Bertilvidet / WikiCommons
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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