What are the Most Famous Buildings in Istanbul?

Property in Istanbul, and buildings have been outstanding for ages. Istanbul is a unique city that has hosted many civilizations such as the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Istanbul, located at the intersection of Asia and Europe, neither completely bears the traces of

Western civilization, nor does it completely carry the traces of Eastern civilization. This unique city contains the cultural heritages of both Eastern and Western civilizations. This multiculturalism undoubtedly affects the city’s architecture.

Here are the most famous buildings in Istanbul.

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Dolmabahce Palace
  • The Blue Mosque
  • Neve Shalom Synagogue
  • Sultanahmet Square
  • Basilica Cistern
  • Galata Tower
  • Haydarpasa Railway Station
  • Istanbul Sapphire
  • Maiden’s Tower
  • Beylerbeyi Palace
  • Erbilginler Yali
  • Chora Church
  • Grand Bazaar

1.  Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is one of the most famous structures in Istanbul. It was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I as a patriarchal cathedral between 532 and 537.

After the Ottomans took the city in 1453, Mehmet the Conqueror converted Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Today, it is open to the public as a mosque with its magnificent architecture. Hagia Sofia’s length is 82 meters and width is 73 meters. There is no entrance fee.

2.  Topkapi Palace

The construction of Topkapi Palace started in 1460 at the request of Fatih the Conqueror after the conquest of Istanbul. The construction was over in about 15 years.

Topkapi Palace has multiple architectures. The palace provides living spaces for the sultans with a size of 300,000 m2. This palace is one of the iconic structures of Istanbul, and also the first museum of the Republic of Turkey.

3.  Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace was started to be built during the reign of Sultan Abdulmejid and opened for use in 1856. One of the most glorious Ottoman buildings in Istanbul, the palace is located in an area of 110,000 m2, with a magnificent view overlooking the Bosphorus.

Dolmabahce Palace, in terms of its architecture, represents one of the Ottoman Empire’s westernization steps. 2021 entrance fees for foreigners are US$12 and US$9.30 for Selam and Harem parts of the palace. Also, if you want to visit the museum, you need to pay US$20.

4.  The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is one of the most important values among Istanbul’s most famous buildings Sultanahmet Mosque with its splendor and elegance. The mosque, named after the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet, has 16 minaret balconies.

The mosque is famous for its blue decorations and its other name is “Blue Mosque”. There are approximately 21 thousand eye-catching Iznik tiles on the walls of the mosque. The 43-meter-high central dome has a diameter of 23.5 meters. 2021 entrance is free of charge.

5. Neve Shalom Synagogue

Neve Shalom Synagogue (Peace Valley in Turkish) in Beyoglu was opened for worship on 25 March 1951. Unlike other synagogues in Istanbul, Jewish rites and weddings, funerals, Bar Mitzvahs, Circumcision, and religious holidays are held in the very active synagogue. There is also a museum for the synagogue.

By visiting the museum, visitors can see the documents, warrants, edicts on Turkish-Jewish history, special showcases, religious objects, and other historical works. 2021 entrance fee is US$4.65.

6. Sultanahmet Square

Sultanahmet Square and its surroundings are among the most important points of Istanbul in terms of attracting local and foreign tourists. The historical Sultanahmet Square and its surroundings contain many must-sees. Notable historic buildings in Istanbul such as Hagia Sophia Mosque, Turkish-Islamic Arts Museum, Haseki Bath, and Blue Mosque are located in this square. Theodosius Obelisk, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Irene Museum whose 2021 entrance fee is US$8.26 for foreigners are also very close to the square.

7. Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern is one of the other special structures around the historical Sultanahmet Square. The cistern consists of 336 columns and 2 Medusa Statues. The cistern, visited by millions of domestic and foreign tourists every year, was a water storage area.

The Basilica Cistern is one of the greatest works from the Byzantine period.

8. Galata Tower

Galata Tower was built by the Genoese as a part of the Galata walls during the Byzantine Empire period, in the middle of the fourteenth century, when the Galata district was a Genoese colony. The top floor of the tower, which is one of the symbols of Istanbul, is a restaurant.

The visitors can watch the beautiful view here. If you wish, you can sit on the stairs and benches just below and watch Galata instead of Istanbul. 2021 entrance fee is US$10.

9. Haydarpasa Railway Station

The construction of the Haydarpasa Railway Station, located on the quay in Kadikoy was initiated in 1906 during the reign of Ottoman Sultan II. Abdulhamid.  The station building is a classic example of German architecture.

Inside the building, there are rooms with large and high ceilings. The building, which has been exposed to many fires throughout its history, is now closed but retains all its splendor on the Asian Side of Istanbul.

10. Istanbul Sapphire

Istanbul Sapphire is the tallest building in Istanbul Turkey. It is the second tallest building in Europe following the Shard Long Bridge. The building has 66 floors in total. The building includes a parking lot, residence, and a shopping center for individuals. The car park of the building is located in the 6-floor section under the ground. With the observation terrace on the top floor, the panoramic city view will be right in front of the visitors.

11. Maiden’s Tower

The history of the Maiden’s Tower, which has been the subject of various legends throughout history, dates back to 2,500 years ago. It has survived to the present day by passing through historical periods ranging from Greek to the Ottoman Empire.

Following the major restoration in 1833, the Maiden’s Tower took its present form in the Ottoman-baroque architectural style. Maiden’s Tower was a defense and watchtower. Now it serves as a museum, cafe, and restaurant during the day and as a private restaurant in the evening. The breakfast price is US$10 per person including the tower entrance fee in 2021.

12. Beylerbeyi Palace

Uskudar Beylerbeyi Palace construction was started in 1861 by the order of Sultan Abdulaziz and was inaugurated in 1865. The palace, as a state guest house and the most important Armenian building in Istanbul, has 23 rooms and 6 halls.

There are two sections in the palace the haremlik and the selamlik. The appearance of the Baroque style inside and outside of the palace is due to the influence of Western architecture during the construction. 2021 entrance fee is US$6.20.

13. Erbilginler Yalisi

Erbilginler Mansion is right in front of the cool waters of the Bosphorus. Despite its modest appearance created by its wooden facade, it embodies all the splendid beauty of Istanbul.

Erbilginler Mansion in Yenikoy, known as Turkey’s most expensive and the world’s 4th most expensive mansion, has 64 rooms. Among the glorious details that add splendor to the mansion; are silk carpets, gold leaf decorations, crystal chandeliers, and a Turkish Bath.

14. Chora Church

Chora Church was probably built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian (527-565) on the site of a ruined chapel outside the city. The building, which was destroyed by the destruction of the monastic structures outside the church, draws attention to Eastern Roman art with its architecture, mosaics, and frescoes. It became a mosque in 2020 by the President’s Decision. Moreover, the 2021 entrance fee is free.

15. Grand Bazaar

The history of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul goes back to the period of Mehmet the Conqueror, in the middle of the 15th century. The Grand Bazaar, which is not only the oldest but also the largest shopping center in the world, is on an area of 45,000 square meters and includes approximately 3,600 shops.

Here you can find everything from carpets to bags, from textiles to gold and silver jewelry, from antiques to tiles and souvenirs that will keep your memories alive forever. Additionally, the 2021 Entrance to the Grand Bazaar is free of charge.

How is the Architecture of Istanbul?

Istanbul has been a popular settlement since prehistoric times due to its special geographical location. The city has also served as the capital of great states such as Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire in the historical process. That is why there are several magnificent monumental structures in the city.

Over time, the natural and architectural environment has created a unique cultural landscape. The historical peninsula silhouette which is the proof of the image of today’s Istanbul is integrity that has survived many changes over time and carries the traces of different periods and different cultures in Istanbul’s history.

What is the Oldest Building in Istanbul?

Hagia Sophia is a structure that was constructed there three times. The “Third Hagia Sophia” is the name given to the Hagia Sophia of today. During the reign of Constantine I, who recognized Christianity as the Roman Empire’s official religion, the first phase of Hagia Sophia’s construction was begun. The Great Church at the time, this building was constructed as a wooden-roofed basilica on the first of Istanbul’s seven hills and was opened in 360 by II. It happened under Constantine’s rule. This building is completely gone; a fire that broke out during the revolt that began in 404 caused it to be mostly destroyed.

Theodosius constructed it on top of the first one, and it became a place of worship in 415. The Nika Revolt against Emperor Justinian in 532 saw the destruction of this building, which was likewise constructed in the shape of a basilica and had a wooden roof.

Right after the uprising, Emperor Justinian decided to have a Hagia Sophia erected that was considerably larger and more splendid than the previous two. Emperor Justinian I of the Byzantine Empire constructed the Third Hagia Sophia between 532 and 537.

Throughout history, wars, uprisings, and natural calamities have repeatedly devastated Hagia Sophia, which served as the Imperial Church of Eastern Rome. When the city was conquered during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Hagia Sophia endured one of the worst destructions. Along with the rest of the city, Hagia Sophia was sacked by the Crusaders. Hagia Sophia was converted into a cathedral associated with the Roman Catholic Church while the Latins were in charge of Istanbul from 1204 to 1261.

After Istanbul’s East Roman government was reinstated, Hagia Sophia — which had sustained significant damage — was attempted to be saved by restorations. The eastern arch and a portion of the dome of Hagia Sophia fell in 1346 due to inadequate repairs, though.

In truth, Hagia Sophia went through its worst period between the Latin invasion and the capture of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia, which was twice demolished and then rebuilt after centuries of battles and uprisings, and some of its components fell as a result of negligence and architectural mistakes, continued to remain at continual risk of being destroyed until Fatih Sultan Mehmed Han conquered Istanbul. The Catholic-Orthodox sectarian conflict also diminished the temple’s social and symbolic significance.

Since Fatih Sultan Mehmed Han’s reign, the Ottomans have given the Hagia Sophia Mosque a great deal of care. They embraced and appreciated it as a symbol of their victory and have continued to maintain and repair it, making it much stronger than it was before. The preservation of this human legacy was greatly aided by Mimar Sinan’s additions and modifications to Hagia Sophia.

In reality, Fatih Sultan Mehmed Han was quite concerned about the state of the mosque when he visited Hagia Sophia just after the capture. Fatih Sultan Mehmed Han initially began educational operations by having a madrasah established close to the mosque. He then dedicated the Hagia Sophia Mosque as his charity and guaranteed maintenance and repair expenditures by linking a significant number of mites. Under Mehmed the Conqueror, the Hagia Sophia’s first minaret was constructed out of wood. The long-standing minaret was taken down in 1574 when there were extensive repairs made. Sultan II is the Hagia Sophia Mosque’s second minaret. During the rule of Bayezid Khan, it was constructed of brick.

Sultan II. Selim Han was one of the Ottoman sultans who had the most interest in Hagia Sophia. When the structure began to exhibit indications of wear and tear, II. Selim Han hired Sinan the Architect to maintain and repair Hagia Sophia. Despite numerous significant earthquakes in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia’s domes and walls, which frequently fell during the Eastern Roman period, never did so following Mimar Sinan’s arrangements. The sultan’s tombs around Hagia Sophia were built in part by Sultan II. The first tomb constructed by Mimar Sinan marked the beginning of the Selim Han cemetery in the Hagia Sophia Complex.

Every sultan since Fatih Sultan Mehmet Khan has worked to make Hagia Sophia even more stunning, and it has now been developed into a complex with buildings. The interior decorations of the Hagia Sophia Mosque also received a lot of attention throughout the Ottoman era. The most magnificent works of Turkish art, including calligraphy and tiles, were used to embellish Hagia Sophia, giving the sanctuary new aesthetic values. So, in addition to being transformed into a mosque, Hagia Sophia also helped to conserve and renew this shared human legacy.

Following the beginning of restoration work in the 1930s, Hagia Sophia, which was transformed into a mosque after the conquest and used as a mosque for 481 years, was closed to the general public. Then, on November 24, 1934, the Council of Ministers decided to convert it into a museum. On July 10, 2020, the Council of State revoked the aforementioned Council of Ministers resolution. Following this, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed Presidential Decree No. 2729, which reopened Hagia Sophia for worship.

How Do Historical Buildings Affect the Architecture of Istanbul?

Eastern Roman architecture is a combination of Ancient Greek and Eastern architectural styles. The most important architectural work in the city during this period is Hagia Sophia, which is much wider and higher than the previous churches. Many churches of the period such as Hagia Sophia, cisterns, aqueducts, Galata Tower and Tekfur Palace have survived to the present day.

After the conquest of Istanbul, the reconstruction works started quickly by Fatih Sultan Mehmed, and many churches turned into mosques. Topkapi Palace, Fatih Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and madrasas were built during this period and Istanbul became the capital of the state. With the migrations from Anatolia, the first Turkish neighborhoods and Turkish houses were formed in the city.

In the Ottoman Period, as in the Byzantine Period, there were stone and brick public buildings to make them permanent, while the houses were usually wooden. The houses, which have three types single-story, two-story and wide, and large are generally rectangular and built with oak wood.

The European style, which is the result of the developing commercial and diplomatic relations with Europe in the 18th century, affected architecture as well as social life and clothing. As a result, more ornate and ostentatious structures in the European baroque style affected the architecture of Istanbul.

While aesthetic masonry buildings increased in Beyoglu at the beginning of the 20th century, such buildings began to rise in a few places such as Sirkeci and Gumussuyu. Now Istanbul was completing a mosaic with its magnificent mosques, palaces, buildings, first apartments, mansions, and modest houses bearing traces of different civilizations.

What is the Name of the Famous Building in Istanbul?

The 67-meter-high Galata Tower is difficult to overlook. The tower keeps watching over the entire city at Galata, an old and medieval Genoese hamlet.

One of the oldest towers in the world, it has undergone several restorations and served a variety of functions. It is without a doubt one of Istanbul’s most famous locations today. This must-see offers spectacular 360-degree views of the city.

At the entrance to the Golden Horn, Galata Tower stands above the Galata Walls as a reminder of the Genoese colony that formerly existed in Istanbul. One of Istanbul’s most popular attractions, the tower dominates the cityscape with its cylindric design.

With its display galleries, Galata Tower serves as a museum today. There are nine stories in all. Visitors can reach the seventh floor via two elevators.

The lower levels include a variety of exhibits, but it’s preferable to explore them on the way down. You may view an animated short video about old Istanbul in addition to the interactive displays with a quiz on Istanbul.

The simulation where you may both learn about the tale of Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi and play the part of Hezarfen yourself is one of the exhibition’s attractions. According to legend, Hezarfen used the artificial wings he wore on his arms to cross the Bosphorus from the Galata Tower to the Anatolian side in 1638.

As you go down the confined steps, take note of the windows’ rounded arches. Probably employed for covert observation and protection, they now provide a stunning perspective of Istanbul’s streets and roofs.

From the seventh story, a spiral staircase leads to the final two floors. At the top of the turning point is the observation deck.

You may stroll onto the slender metal-adorned balcony after ascending the hill and take in the stunning 360-degree panorama of Istanbul’s rooftops. The Galata Tower is widely regarded as having one of the city’s most breathtaking vistas for good reason. One of the greatest aerial views of Istanbul’s historical peninsula, the Golden Horn, and the Bosphorus Bridge can be seen from this location.

This is a fantastic location to take in Istanbul’s splendor at dusk. However, make sure to arrive early because there are sometimes quite large waiting lines.

Near the exit/entrance, on the way down, there is a floor that doubles as a tiny gift shop. Here, you may discover unique mementos of your vacation to Istanbul in a variety of colors and forms, including vibrant pottery, legendary characters, and of course, the Galata Tower.

Galata Tower is a fantastic location for photography since it provides not only one but two beautiful vistas for pictures of Istanbul. The Galata Tower is one of Istanbul tourists’ preferred picture locations, whether they’re looking to capture a memorable Instagram moment or a memento image.

In addition to the obvious fantastic photo options provided by the view from above, the Galata Tower itself makes for an excellent photo backdrop. Try to revisit after dark since the Galata Tower’s illuminations are stunning at night. While exploring the quaint, brick alleyways that surround the Galata Tower, you can sense how European this area of the city is. Visit the quaint gift stores and boutiques while relaxing at one of the cafés.

You may also travel to one of the numerous neighboring galleries, synagogues, cathedrals, or museums, such as the Pera Museum, SALT Galata, Galata Mevlevihanesi, or Neve Salom Synagogue. The brand-new cruise port Galataport and the well-known Istiklal Caddesi retail district in Istanbul are additional well-known tourist sites.

How Do Buildings Affect Everyday Life in Istanbul?

Urban and architectural structures that show continuity despite changes and transformations also have an important place in the historical identity of Istanbul, which should be preserved with great care.

With its dynamic structure and ever-increasing population, Istanbul hosts new housing projects every day. Furthermore, districts such as Fener and Balat are being renovated or restored through urban transformation projects.

Property in Istanbul, for instance, villas with sea view, short-story buildings with a forest view, or skyscrapers with city view. Thus, everyday life in Istanbul becomes easier, renewed, and revitalized.

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