Tours & Tickets
As a city that cradles both Asian and European cultures, Istanbul has innumerable stories to count. Sitting at the throat of the Bosphorus Strait, this city is at the confluence of eastern and western culture. Previously, three ancient empires—the Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans—made this their capital city, previously known as Constantinople and Byzantium. An abundance of ancient relics and structures each culture left behind have been preserved. In the old Sultanahmet District you can see magnificent Blue Mosque and, in the same visit, go to the nearby Hagia Sophia—a Greek Orthodox church that became a mosque and is now a museum)—and the Ottoman-era Topkapı Palace. The century-old Grand Bazaar is a spectacle not to be missed. The goods inside are dazzling to behold and it is a good place to buy souvenirs.
The Hagia Sophia Museum was originally an Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the Byzantine Empire. Its construction began in 537 AD at the beginning of the Middle Ages and then converted into a mosque during occupation by the Ottoman Empire. It has now been secularized and converted into Turkey’s most visited museum, with preserved murals covering the plaster walls. Most have been restored to resemble their original appearance. The building is a true spectacle featuring the overlap of Christianity and Islam, and is a very special site well worth visiting.
Situated on the bank of the Bosphorus Strait is one of Istanbul's landmarks, the Blue Mosque. It features a magnificent and eye-catching, enormous round dome. The Blue Mosque, also called the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, was built under the rule of Sultan Ahmed during the Ottoman Empire. The Blue Mosque derives its name from the more than 20,000 blue ceramic tiles used to decorate its interior. These exquisite blue ceramic tiles are one of the mosque's highlights. The tiles are engraved with rich patterns and Arabic inscriptions, which are the perfect embodiment of the unique features of Islamic art.
The Basilica Cistern is located next to the Hagia Sophia Museum and was built under the orders of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It has a capacity of 80,000 cubic meters of water, served as an underground reservoir used by the Byzantine and Ottoman Palaces and is still in use today. The Basilica Cistern is now a famous tourist attraction due to its historic importance and architectural beauty. In the dim light of the Basilica Cistern, thick Corinthian stone pillars support massive brick vaults engraved with exquisite reliefs. Sometimes you can even find fish swimming about. Because of the unique air of mystery here, it has served as a filming site for both the James Bond installment, “Skyfall”, and Jackie Chan’s “Secret City”.