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Top 20 Historical and Sightseeing Places in Istanbul

Top 20 Historical and Sightseeing Places in Istanbul

When it comes to “Historic and Sightseeing Places”, it is quite hard to choose between all of the “must-see and must-do’s in Istanbul… So here it is a list to ease your tour planning efforts… But Top 20 is just a quick glimpse of Istanbul, only to give you the idea of the richness of the history, diversity culture, and daily life…

No matter, if you have limited time or much time to discover, here is a priority list…

List of Top 20 Historical and Sightseeing Places in Istanbul :

  1. Topkapi Palace
  2. Hagia Sophia Museum
  3. Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque Complex)
  4. Hippodrome and Obelisk
  5. Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)
  6. Grand Bazaar
  7. Grand Mosque (Süleymaniye Complex)
  8. Chora Museum (St. Savior in Chora)
  9. Dolmabahçe Palace
  10. Pera: Istiklal Street, Tünel and Galata
  11. Prince’s Island
  12. Bosphorus
  13. Bagdat Street
  14. Istanbul Aquarium
  15. Historical Peninsula
  16. Nişantaşı Area
  17. Miniaturk
  18. Nispetiye Street – Restaurant Area
  19. Parks ( Yıldız Park, Emirgan Park)
  20. Shopping Malls (Kanyon, Istinye Park, Cevahir, Ak Merkez, Metro City)

Top 10 Historical Places in Istanbul

1. Topkapi Palace :

If you are interested even slightly, in the exotic world of the Ottoman Empire Era, Topkapi Palace is the right place to start.The famous riots of the soldiers in the outer courtyards, the intrigues of the wives and mothers of the Sultans, the struggles between the viziers all took place here.

Today buildings in the palace are housing the collections of the precious treasures of the East and are open to public. Six hundred years of Ottoman Empire history is behind the thick walls of this palace, waiting to be discovered.

You need at least half a day to explore Topkapi Palace properly.

If you are really in a hurry then choose only :
“The Kitchens” in the second courtyard,
“The Harem” adjacent to the third courtyard,
“The Imperial Treasury” in the third courtyard,
“The Fourth Courtyard” at the Northern end of the palace, which provides magnificent views.

You can buy your tickets just before you reach the gate, next to the Executioner’s Fountain.

It will save you time to be there before the doors open because usually busloads of people arrive at 9:30 – 10:00. Otherwise your precious minutes will be lost in the ticket queue.

Where exactly?: You can see it in Sultanahmet, behind the Hagia Sophia Museum. The main entrance, Imperial Gate is beyond the North-east corner of Hagia Sophia Church Museum.

Opening hours: 09:00 – 16:00 (closed on Tuesdays)
Entrance fee: for the Palace: 20 TL, for the Harem: 15 TL
Address: Sultanahmet

2. Hagia Sophia Church Museum (Aya Sofya Muzesi) :

The Haghia Sophia was built in the 6th century A.D by Emperor Justinian. It was the greatest church in Christian world for almost a thousand years.

Hagia Sophia Church represented the highest achievements of the Byzantine Empire, and it was the cathedral of the emperor. The source of its great fame is the dome which was the largest dome ever constructed. And it held the record over a thousand years, until the construction of St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome in 1626.

When Constantinople was conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, it was converted to a mosque. Today it serves as a museum open to people of all faiths. And still is one of the architectural wonders of the world.

See the beautifully decorated interior, world-famous mosaics and paintings of the Saints and feel the spaciousness for yourself.

Looking at this magnificent monument from the outside is not enough.

If you are really in a hurry then choose only :
“The Main Hall” on the ground floor,
“The Upper Gallery” on the first floor,

It will save you time to be there before the doors open because usually busloads of people arrive at 9:30 – 10:00. Otherwise your precious minutes will be lost in the ticket queue.

Where exactly?: You can see it at the North-east corner of Sultanahmet Square.
Opening hours: 09:00-18:00, except Mondays.
Entrance fee: 20 TL
Address: Sultanahmet Square, Sultanahmet

3. Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Camii Kulliyesi) :

This complex, widely known by its mosque, is a landmark in the marvellous skyline of Istanbul. It was built by Sedefkar Mehmed Agha, the architect, for Sultan Ahmed, in early 17th century.

It is known as Blue mosque by foreign travellers due to its turqouise and cobalt tile interior decoration.

Blue Mosque is Istanbul’s only mosque with six minarets and is one of the most significant mosques in Istanbul. It has a splendid exterior with the cascade of domes, semidomes and its six minarets.

The interior of the mosque is a very spacious one, decorated with nearly 20.000 Iznik tiles, depicting the tarditional lily, carnation, tulip, rose, cypresses and other floral motifs.

These are all in exquisite colors, with shades of blues and greens dominating. The stonework, woodwork, painted decorations are fine examples of their era.

Make sure you see the beautifully decorated interior.

If you are really in a hurry then choose only:
“The Main Hall” on the ground floor,
“The Courtyard” on the ground floor,
There never is a queue, since it is not a museum but a worship place. But religious holidays and friday noons can be over-crowded.
Where exactly?: You can see it at the North-east corner of Sultanahmet Square.
Opening hours: Open all day long, until the last prayer time.
Entrance fee: None
Address: Sultanahmet Square, Sultanahmet

4. Hippodrome and the Obelisks :

The Hippodrome was built during the reign of Septimus Severus in 3rd century (approx. 203 A.D.). and enlarged to its latest size by Constantine the Great in 4th century (approx. 324 A.D.).

It was located on the Sultanahmet Square (next to Sultanahmet Mosque). The Hippodrome was 480 meters long by 117 meters wide and had a seating capacity estimated at 80.000 people.

The Hippodrome had a very important place in social life of the Byzantine capital, like all other cities ruled by the Roman Empire. Countless activities and games took place at the Hippodrome.

It was the centre of the social life in Byzantium for 1000 years and the same for Istanbul in Ottoman times for 400 years. In time, the structure of the Hippodrome was demolished. The only original relics of the ancient period are the three obelisks in Spina of the Hippodrome and the retaining wall of Sphendon of the Hippodrome.

In Ottoman times, Hippodrome became a public square where a number of activities and games took place. The cirit games (very similar to polo) took place here too and gave its name to the square; “At Meydani” (Horse Square).

Three Obelisks are still where they used to be in the Hippodrome.

Where exactly?: You can see the three obelisks in Spina of the Hippodrom, in Sultanahmet Square.

You can see the retaining wall of Sphendon, the series of massive vaults, at the southern end of the Hippodrome, where the land begins to slope down to the sea.

Opening hours: Open all day long.
Entrance fee: None
Address: Sultanahmet Square, Sultanahmet

5. Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici) :

Basilica Cistern was built by Emperor Justinian, in the 6th century (532 A.D.). This cistern is the largest underground cistern in İstanbul and provided water for the Great Palace. It covers a huge space, the water under the walkways and dimmed lighting makes it very dramatic, like a film set. Two of the columns are mounted on ancient classical pedestals in the form of Medusa heads. One of them is upside down and the other is on its side. You can see them at the North-western corner of the cistern. It is a stunning atmosphere. Platforms and a lighting system are added to the cistern which makes it easy to explore. And there is a nice cafe inside, you can have a drink in this exciting atmosphere.

Where exactly?: You can see it on the Yerebatan Street, at the North-west of the entrance gate of Hagia Sophia.
Opening hours: 09:00 – 18:30, everyday.
Entrance fee: 10 TL (4,5 Euros)
Address: Yerebatan Street, No: 13, Sultanahmet

6. Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarsi) :

One of the worlds most picturesque and enchanting bazaars with its domes and vaults, Grand Bazaar was the heart of commerce during Ottoman Empire period for centuries. The Grand Bazaar was a big step towards the shopping malls of modern times. And it is still a very important commercial center for Istanbul. This is probably the biggest of its kind in the world. Within the dozens of alleys covered by decorated vaults you will find gorgeous Turkish carpets, leather apparel, glazed tiles, jewelry, glass artifacts, traditional handicrafts, pottery, historical restaurants, copperware, brassware, souvenirs, hookah pipes, textiles, t-shirts, home textiles, towels, furniture and so much more. No trip to Istanbul is complete without seeing the Grand Bazaar.

If you are really in a hurry then choose only:
“Zincirli Han” close to Mahmutpasa Gate,
“Ic Bedesten” right in the middle of the Grand Bazaar,
“Ic Bedesten” right in the middle of the Grand Bazaar,
“Kalpakcilar Street” the street you enter from the Beyazıt Gate.

It is more than just shopping, you will see that Grand Bazaar has a colorful, vibrant atmosphere and it is one of the best ways to explore Istanbul.

Where exactly?: It is a neighborhood by itself. You can see one of its gates on Divan Yolu, in Beyazıt.
Or you can use the Nur-u Osmaniye Gate which is near the Nur-u Osmaniye Mosque, in Cağaloğlu.
Opening hours: 08:30 – 19:00, except Sunday.
Entrance fee: None
Address: Beyazıt

7. Suleymaniye Mosque (Suleymaniye Mosque Complex) :

Süleymaniye Complex is settled on one of the seven hills of Istanbul and dominates the Historic Peninsula over the Golden Horn. It is an important landmark for the city. Sultan Süleyman, the Magnificent who put his mark on the whole 16th century commissioned “Sinan, the Chief Architect” for this gorgeous complex (built between 1549 and 1558).

The area which the complex was built on is a sloppy hillside. Sinan, the Chief Architect has placed the buildings at different levels through a brilliant arrangement of terraces. He created a beautiful symmetrical composition.The idea behind building this grand complex was to emphasize the importance of science, education and knowledge and to emphasize the glory of the Ottoman Empire.
The interior of the mosque is simply decorated, but the total impression is breath-taking. The proportions and the spaciosness are noteworthy. The decorations of the mosque were made by the most gifted artisans of their times.The dominant feeling when you enter the mosque is being impressed by the grandeur.

  • The dome is 27.5 meters in diameter and 47 above the floor.
  • The decorations of Suleymaniye Mosque were made by the most gifted artisans of their times.
  • It is a richly decorated mosque with Iznik tiles, carved Proconnesian marble, exquisite woodwork with ivory and mother-of-pearl inlays and inscriptions written by the best calligraphers.
  • The tiles used in the Suleymaniye Mosque are the earliest examples of the famous technique of Iznik tile producing, with deep blue and vibrant red on a pure white ground.
  • The tombs of Sultan Süleyman, the Magnificent and his wife Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana) and the tomb of Sinan, the Chief Architect are here.

If you are really in a hurry then choose only:
“The Main Hall” on the ground floor of the mosque,
“The North-east corner of the courtyard” provides amazing views of Bosphorus and Golden Horn.

The best way is to take the tram from the Sultanahmet, get off it at the Beyazıt stop and walk. Or you can take a cab from there, if you don’t feel like walking.

Where exactly?: You can see it at the North-west of Grand Bazaar.
Opening hours: Open all day long, until the last prayer time.
Entrance fee: None
Address: Mimar Sinan Street, Süleymaniye

8. Chora Museum (St. Savior in Chora)(Kariye Müzesi) :

When it was first built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century, it was outside the city walls. “In Chora” literally means “in the country”.

The present building dates back to the 11th century and took its current shape in 14th century.

The mosaics and frescoes on the interior walls tell stories from the New Testament like the birth of Christ, the life of Virgin Mary, lifeage of Christ, Resurrection of Christ.

These magnificent mosaics and frescoes are one of the world’s most important examples of early Byzantine pictorial art.
Make sure you see the golden mosaics and frescoes.

If you are really in a hurry then choose only:
“Mosaic of the Virgin Mother with child Christ” on north dome of inner narthex,
“Mosaic of the Koimesis” in the Naos,
“The Anastasis fresco” in the parekklesion of the Chora Church.

The Chora Curch serves as a museum today.

Where exactly?: You can see it just inside the Theodosian Walls in Edirnekapı.
Opening hours: 09:00-16:30, except Wednesdays.
Entrance fee: 15 TL
Address: Kariye Camii Sokak, Edirnekapı

9. Dolmabahçe Palace (Dolmabahçe Sarayı) :

Dolmabahçe Palace is the most impressive imperial building on the Bosphorus Shores. It has a nice architectural style and a wonderful view. Sultan Abdulmecid and his family moved to this new and modern palace all together, leaving the old Topkapı Palace totally in 1856.This was a symbol of leaving the old order at the old palace grounds and achieving European standards as a result of the process of Westernization starting from the first half of the 19th century.

The monumental scale and rich ornamental exterior is quite the opposite of the concept of classical Otoman palace. As a result this palece is an interesting blend of a European style palace with an Otoman one. The palace served as a residential building for M. Kemal Atatürk, the establisher and first president of the Turkish Republic. After the death of Atatürk in 1938 the palace has been restored and serves as a museum today. The palace has a neo-classical, richly ornamented exterior and interior design.

If you are really in a hurry then choose only:
“The Muayede Hall” which is absolutely stunning and houses the world’s largest chandelier,
“The Hünkar Hamam” heavily ornamented Turkish Bath,
“The Glass Kiosk” imperial glass greenhouse,
“The Clock Tower” in the courtyard,

Where exactly?: You can see it in Dolmabahçe, Beşiktaş.
Opening hours: Daily between 09:00 – 15:00 (except Thursdays) (Check if you can reserve your ticket online)
Entrance fee: 20 TL
Address: Dolmabahce, Besiktas

10. Pera: Istiklal Street, Tünel, Galata and Taksim Sqıare :

Beyoğlu had a different name when it was at its peak time: Pera.

It took this name from the former name of Istiklal Street; Grand Rue de Pera.

Pera was the wealthy European quarter of the city with the banks, trading houses and embassies of the European community along with the large Greek and Armenian communities of the Ottoman Empire.

You can bump into several galleries, exhibitions, museums, bookstores, live music venues, trendy restaurants, hip cafes and bars while you are there.

Beyoglu is the center of modern street life and the most important cultural center in Istanbul today. Talsim Square is alwasy the witmess of history. It became the center of thousands of showdown. Nowadays, the square is built all over again to become even better attraction center. It might be considered as the capital place of Turkey.

If you are really in a hurry then choose only:
“Istiklal Street” to have a quick stroll,
“Asmalımescid” the trendy nightlife center,
“Galata” neighborhood full of designer stores,
“Galata Tower” in Galata,

You can find all Turkish and international brand name stores and you can find all sorts of entertainment on Istiklal Street. Istiklal Street is a shopper’s heaven during daytime and another heaven for party animals at night.

Where exactly?: You can see it in Taksim, Beyoglu.
Opening hours: 24/7
Entrance fee: None
Address: Istiklal Street, Taksim

Top 10 Sightseeing Places in Istanbul

11. Prince’s Island :

The Prince’s Islands (9) are located about 10km away off the Bagdat Avenue area. 5 Islands have habitants called (from largest size to small) Buyukada, Heybeliada, Kinaliada, Burgaz and Sedef.

All islands are mostly occupied by forrests. Many historical Ottoman style wooden houses create a nice atmosphere on the islands.
Buyukada is the biggest and most touristic island of all. Foreigners ussually prefer to go to Buyukada but if you like to eliminate overcrowd, then your choice should be either Heybeliada or Burgazada. Also keep in mind, the prices are more reasonable compared to Buyukada.

Here are the must do’s on the Islands.

  • Rent a bicycle where motor vehicles are banned
  • Take a traditional cruise with a horse driven coach (phaeton)
  • Get a fish included meal for either lunch or dinner, better both…
  • Take pictures from hidden places of the islands

You may go to the Islands with different kinds of boats (i.g. Vapur, sea bus, shuttle boats) from Kabataş, Sirkeci/Eminönü, Bostancı… Get a simit ( sesami covered circle-shaped bread) to eat with tea (çay) on the boat and also for albatroses to make them dance in the air catching pieces of simit you throw…

There are so many things on islands and your visit to Istanbul will not be completed without seeing the islands.

12. Bosphorus :

Hard to tell all about the bosphorus, since there is too much to see on both shores (Asian & European sides).

You can get on a boat from Sirkeci, Karaköy, Kabataş or Ortaköy. Taking a boat tour is a good idea to see it from the sea but then you should go to the spots directly. From Beşiktaş to Sarıyer on the European side. Ortaköy, Arnavutköy, Bebek, Rumelihisarı, Emirgan, İstinye, Yeniköy, Tarabya, Sarıyer, Rumeli Kavağı and Rumeli Feneri… Fish restaurants, cafes and others… You need days to see the most… Of course, the Asian side. Starting from Kadiköy to Üsküdar, Kuzguncuk, Beylerbeyi, Çengelköy, Vaniköy, Kandilli, Göksu, Anadoluhisarı, Kanlıca, Beykoz, Anadolu Kavağı and Anadolu Feneri. Just go, and discover…

13. Bagdat Avenue :

Bagdat Avenue, one of the most popular areas on the Asian Side, is prefered by high level educated locals and also many expats.

The avenue, its name synonymous with Istanbul’s fashion platform, is a district highly popular with the young crowd and educated all age levels. Among the shops lining the avenue are branch stores of top fashion labels, independent stores, fast food eateries, branches of well-known restaurant chains, theaters, health and beauty and aesthetic centers, cafes, luxury automobile galleries, branch stores of top sports supplies labels, and interior decoration stores and sidewalks.

Bagdat Avenue may be seen as a fashion trend-setter for Istanbul as a whole, with Nisantasi district of the European side. Bagdat Avenue ,with its variety, offers shoppers from every income level to obtain the best buy. During the spring and fall discount season, residents from all around the city head to Baghdad Avenue. The avenue also serves as a popular place to meet and for scial purposes.

Since Bagdat Avenue is located in an area of high-income dwellers, the avenue is a showcase for luxury cars too.
You also may enjoy sea side by walking to 100meters to the shore line parallel to the Bagdat Avenue. You can walk or bycle on the 5km-road from Bostancı to Fenerbahçe.

14. Istanbul Aquarium :

The Biggest Thematic Aquarium Of The World…

In comparison to other aquariums of its class containing fish species living in the world’s seas, it is the newest with its travel route, thematization, interactivity, rainforest and cutting-edge technology…

Istanbul Akvaryum holds a leading position among worldwide aquariums thanks to its volume, variety of fish species, and the activities on travel routes. It is a project which makes “firsts” and “mosts” in its field.

The visitors, by following a geographical route, travel on a route that hosts 16 themes and 1 rainforest going from the Black Sea towards the Pacific.

In thematization of the spaces, there appear cultural, geographical, historical and architectural properties of each space with suitable decorative elements, interactive games, movies, and visual graphics by which details about the region are provided. Sound and lighting systems of each space have been arranged in conformity with this thematization.

Istanbul Akvaryum is managed by specialists in their field and in compliance with international standards in every sense.

All living creatures in Istanbul Akvaryum continue to live in the conditions as nearest as possible to those of their habitat.

Istanbul Akvaryum In Figures :

  • Water volume: 6.800 cubic meters; 64 tanks in total
  • A two-storey giant project with total area of 22.000 square meters on 100-decare land
  • Parking lot area of 32.000 square meters/1.200 vehicles belonging to Istanbul Akvaryum
  • Visitor area of 6.000 square metersk
  • A special-themed, 1,2 km long travel route originating in the Black Sea towards the Pacific
  • Approximately 1.500 species, 15.000 land and sea creatures in total, which are interesting from each other
  • 2, 15-person, 6-axle 5D movie houses, providing the option to watch 7 separate films, an extraordinary system that makes live some effects such as wind, fog and water
  • A gift shop with an area of 470 square meters within Istanbul Akvaryum
  • 3 cafeterias on the travel route
  • 1 restaurant having the Panama Canal view on one side and the sea view on the other

Alternative Transportation Recommendations :
By metrobus; from Florya Beşyol by shared taxi; nearest metrobus stops are Sefaköy, Florya – Bağlar, Cennet mah.

Local train departs from Sirkeci, It is possible to access easily by getting off at Florya stop, and walking approximately 800 meters in the direction of Yeşilköy.

When you get off at IDO Bakırköy port, get on the train and then get off at Florya stop. A walking approximately 800 meters in the direction of Yeşilköy will bring you us.

From Gebze; get off in Kadıkoy from Harem minibus, get on metrobus in Kadıkoy and get off at Sefaköy stop. You can easily access Istanbul Akvaryum by getting on Florya minibus next to Sefaköy stop.

Opening hours for weekdays is 10:00 a.m. and last admission for weekdays is 8:00 p.m.
Opening hours for weekends is 10:00 a.m. and last admission for weekends is 8:00 p.m.

15. Historical Peninsula :

Historical Peninsula is the most preffered area by the tourists. There are many historical monuments, palaces, museums, mosques, churches, synagoges, schools, walls, cisterns, and more… Since there are also many hotels in the area, foreign visitors stay in the area and spend more time visiting historical places of the Peninsula…

Must-see-places of the area :

  • Topkapı Palace
  • Yerebatan Sarayı
  • Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Cami)
  • Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) Museum
  • Suleymaniye Mosque
  • Fatih Mosque
  • Eyüp Sultan Mosque
  • Chora Museum (Kariye Müzesi)
  • Gülhane Park
  • Golden Horn (Haliç) Area
  • Miniaturk
  • Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı)
  • Mısır Çarşısı (Egyptian Bazaar/Spice Bazaar)
  • Istanbul Archelogy Museum
  • Great Palace Mosaics Museum
  • Tekfur Palace Museum
  • Panoramic 1453 History Museum

And much more…

16. Nişantaşı Area :

Nişantaşı is a quarter of Istanbul, Turkey, comprising neighbourhoods like Teşvikiye, Osmanbey, Maçka and Pangaltı. It includes the stores of world famous brands and has many popular cafes, pubs, restaurants and night clubs. It is a part of the Şişli district. Abdi İpekçi Avenue, Turkey’s most expensive shopping street in terms of lease prices, stretches from the neighbourhoods of Maçka and Teşvikiye to the center of Nişantaşı.

Nişantaşı was settled by Sultan Abdülmecid I in the middle of the 19th century. He erected two obelisks to define the beginning point and the ending point of the quarter. He ordered the construction of the Neo-Classical style Teşvikiye Police Station and the Neo-Baroque style Teşvikiye Mosque for a proper district, encouraging the citizens of Istanbul to settle here (hence the name Teşvikiye which means Encouragement in Ottoman Turkish).

Nişantaşı is today a fashionable shopping district and an affluent residential area. The quarter forms the background to several novels by Nobel laureate Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who is a local resident. Nişantaşı has the largest community of foreign residents in Istanbul after Taksim and Cihangir.

Nişantaşı’s best and most popular streets are Teşvikiye, Rumeli, Vali Konağı and Abdi İpekçi.

Abdi İpekçi Street or Abdi İpekçi Avenue (Turkish: Abdi İpekçi Caddesi) is the premier shopping street of İstanbul, Turkey, located in the Şişli district. It runs along the Maçka and Teşvikiye neighborhoods, extending from Bayıldım Caddesi/Maçka Caddesi to Vali Konağı Caddesi in the Nişantaşı neighborhood, crossing Mim Kemal Öke Caddesi, Bronz Sokak, Atiye Sokak, Teşvikiye Bostanı Sokak, Eytam Caddesi, Altın Sokak and Profesör Doktor Feyzi Feyzioğlu Sokak on its length of around 700 m in generally northern direction.

During the last decade, the street in the prestigious neighborhood developed into a place hosting luxury retail shopping venues. With a monthly lease price of about $3500 per sqm, it is currently the most expensive street for retail stores in Turkey. A variety of exclusive and expensive shops offering Turkish and international designer labels, restaurants of international cuisine and cafés are lined up on both sides of the street.

17. Miniaturk :

Miniaturk covers a total area of 60,000 square meters. Its model area is 15,000 sqm, making Miniaturk the world’s largest miniature park in respect to its model area. Miniaturk also boasts 40,000 sqm of open space, 3,500 sqm of covered area, 2,000 sqm of pools and waterways, and a parking lot with a capacity of 500 vehicles.

The park contains 120 models done in 1/25th scale. 57 of the structures are from Istanbul, 51 are from Anatolia, and 12 are from the Ottoman territories that today lie outside of Turkey. Additional space was reserved for potential future models. The infrastructure was built taking into consideration the needs of potential additions. Therefore, Miniaturk will continue growing, modeling, in a sense, planned urbanization.

The models were made in 13 workshops, 10 of which are located in Turkey. Apart from the workshops, the Circulating Capital Enterprises of Yıldız Teknik and Dokuz Eylul Universities also contributed to the production of models for Miniaturk.

The models are made of industrial strength plastic-based material. This ensures that the models will be able to weather the elements. Before being placed on public display, all models must past a final test of the elements in the Miniaturk Test Area.

The park hosts icons of many cultures and civilizations. Models vary from the Hagia Sophia to Selimiye, from Rumeli Fortress to Galata Tower, from Safranbolu Houses to the Sumela Monastry, from Qubbat As-Sakhrah to the ruins of Mount Nemrut. In addition, some works that have not survived into the present, such as the Temple of Artemis, the Halicarnassus Mausoleum and Ajyad Castle, were recreated.

Special attention was paid to include every civilization that ruled in and around Anatolia and left their marks. Miniaturk traces a 3000-year history from Antiquity to Byzantium, from Seljuks to the Ottoman Empire and into the present day.

The structures that are on exhibition in Miniaturk were selected by a board chaired by Prof. İlber Ortaylı and Assistant Prof. Ahmet Haluk Dursun. The board was careful to select architectural works whose models could technically be made. Monumental structures, which reflect the technology, art and culture of the civilization to which they belong and which witnessed fierce invasions, wars and destruction for thousands of years and yet still survived because civilizations protected and renovated them without destroying just because they were built by previous civilizations, are now represented by their models in Miniaturk.

Aiming to create a fairy tale atmosphere, the Miniaturk project is divided into three main sections. The sections are Anatolia, Istanbul and the former Ottoman territories. The sections are separated from one another by small landscape designs that ensure continuity by guiding visitors throughout their visit.

The landscape planning of the area took place simultaneously with the infrastructure work. The plants were raised in an environment with similar climate conditions to that of the Golden Horn. In line with the general concept of Miniaturk, the model area was decorated with fine grass, dwarf plants and bonsai trees. The grass and bonsai trees were planted after the models were put in their place.

In addition to the models on exhibition in the open-air museum, Miniaturk also has different places where the visitors can enjoy themselves. These places include a 400-seat amphitheater, a gift shop that sells souvenirs of Miniaturk, a playground to attract the interest of younger visitors, a life size chess board and a labyrinth.

The Park is open for visits every day.

Weekdays : 09:00 – 18:00
Weekends : 09:00 – 18:00

The ticket prices at our Park:
Entry Ticket : 10 TL

Transport :

You can come to our Park by availing of the following means of public transport;

From Taksim ; 54 HT ( Hasköy / Taksim ) Bus
From Mecidiyeköy and Şişli ; 54 HŞ ( Hasköy / Şişli ) Bus
From Eminönü ; 47, 47 Ç, 47 E Bus
From Topkapı ; 41 ST ( Seyrantepe / Topkapı ) Bus
Also Seyrantepe / Topkapı minibuses

18. Nispetiye Street – Restaurant Area :

Nispetiye street is in Etiler just 300 meters passing Akmerkez Shopping Mall. There are many nice restaurants, cafes and bars on the street. After having a nice dinner, you can go down to Bebek ( 500meters) either to walk by the Bosphorus or to spend rest of the night at a nice place with a great Bosphorus view. Nispetiye and Bebek are the most prefered locations by the high level educated and incomed locals.

19. Parks ( Yıldız Park, Emirgan Park) :

Yıldız Park

Yıldız Park is a historical, urban park in Beşiktaş district of Istanbul, Turkey. It is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul. The park is located in Yıldız quarter between the palaces of Yıldız and Çırağan.

Yıldız Park was once part of the imperial garden of Yıldız Palace. Extending down the slopes from the palace, this walled park was reserved only for palace dwellers during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II.

The area of Yıldız used to be a forest in Byzantine times. Starting during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the sultans made it their hunting grounds. In the next centuries, it remained as a grove behind the seaside palaces. The neighbourhood began to flourish in the wake of construction of the palace in the 19th century. It took its name from the first pavilion, namely Yıldız Kasrı, commissioned by Selim III in early 19th century.

The 25-acre (0.10 km2) of the palace’s external garden were surrounded by high walls and detached from a grove during the reign of Abdulhamid II in the 19th century. A small artificial lake, pavilions, summer houses and a porcelain factory were established in this section.

Inside Yıldız Park with the way to the porcelain manufactury…

Currently Yıldız Park is a beautiful garden complex with set in a very large park of flowers, plants and trees, gathered from every part of the world dating from the Ottoman era. Park grounds offer panoramic views of the Bosphorus. The park is a popular picnic place especially for the weekends. Two beautiful old pavilions, namely Çadır and Malta pavilions, are used to rest, drink tea, eat breakfast and have lunch.

The park is separated into two sections, the outer section is open to the public and comprises the Şale, Çadır and Malta pavilions and the still-operating Yıldız porcelain factory. The vegetation of the park includes magnolia, bay leaves, Judas trees, silver limes and horse-chestnuts. Furthermore, the park shelters oak, cypress, pine, yew, cedar and ash trees. Besides, the outer section has two man-made lakes.

The Emirgan Park

The Emirgan Park (Turkish: Emirgan Korusu or rarely Emirgan Parkı) is a historical urban park located in Emirgan neighborhood at the Bosphorus in Sarıyer district of Istanbul, Turkey. It is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul.

History :

In the Byzantine era, the entire area, where today the park stretches, was covered with cypress trees and known as “Kyparades” or “Cypress Forest”. It became known as “Feridun Bey Park”, when the uninhabited land was granted in the mid-16th century to Nişancı Feridun Bey, a Lord Chancellor in rank in the Ottoman Empire.

In the 17th century, Ottoman sultan Murad IV (reigned 1623-1640) presented the estate to Emir Gûne Han, a Safavid Persian commander, who surrendered his sieged castle without any resistance, and followed him back to Istanbul.[2] The name “Feridun Bey Park” was changed to “Emirgûne”, which in time became corrupted to “Emirgan”.

During the centuries, the estate’s owner changed several times, and by the end of the 1860s, it was owned by Khedive Ismail Pasha (reigned 1863-1879), Ottoman governor of Egypt and Sudan. The area was used as the backyard of a large wooden yalı he built down at Bosporus. Further, he built within the park area three wooden pavilions, which still exists.

The heirs of the Khedive family sold the estate in the 1930s to Satvet Lütfi Tozan, a wealthy Turkish arms dealer, who granted the park grounds, the three pavilions included, later in the 1940s to the City of Istanbul during office of Governor and Mayor Lütfi Kırdar (1938-1949).

A pond with fountain in the Emirgan Park

The park, owned and administered today by the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, covers an area of 117 acres (470,000 m2)on a hillside, and is enclosed by high walls.

Inside the park with two decorative ponds are plants of more than 120 species. The most notable rare trees of the park’s flora are: Stone Pine, Turkish pine, Aleppo Pine, Blue Pine, Eastern White Pine, Maritime Pine, Japanese Cedar, Norway Spruce, Blue Spruce, Atlas Cedar, Lebanon Cedar, Himalayan cedar, Beech, Ash tree, Sapindus, Babylon Willow, Hungarian Oak, Colorado White Fir, Maidenhair tree, California incense-cedar, Coast Redwood and Camphor tree.

Many jogging tracks and picnic tables make the Emirgan Park a very popular recreation area for the local people, especially during the weekends and holidays. The three historic pavilions, called after their exterior color as the Yellow Pavilion, the Pink Pavilion and the White Pavilion were restored in time between 1979-1983 by the Touring and Automobile Club of Turkey under its CEO Çelik Gülersoy, and opened to the public as cafeteria and restaurant.

The Emirgan Park is closely associated with the tulip, the traditional flower, which gave its name to an era (1718-1730) of the Ottoman Empire. A special garden was established in Emirgan Park in the 1960s to revive the city’s tradition of tulip cultivation. Since 2005, an annual international tulip festival is organized here every April making the park attractive and very colorful with these flowers.

Yellow Pavilion :

The Yellow Pavilion (Turkish: Sarı Köşk) is a large wooden mansion in the form of a chalet built by Khedive Ismail Pasha between 1871-1878 as a hunting lodge and guest house.

Situated in the center of the park and overlooking the Bosporus, the two-storey mansion with one balcony, one terrace and a basement is constructed on an area of 400 m2 (4,300 sq ft). It consists of four rooms, one hall and a kitchen in the lower floor and three rooms and one salon in the upper floor.[8] Its layout reflects the architecture of the traditional Ottoman house with a salon encircled by many living rooms. The ornaments at the ceilings and the walls were the work of the court architect Sarkis Balyan. The ceilings are enriched with oil painted flower figures and the facades with outstanding carvings. The high doors and windows, as well as the opulent interior decorations in bright colors reflect the glory of that era. A pond is situated to the northeast, next to the mansion.

Used only by the owners from the very beginning, the pavilion was restored within four months in the beginning of the 1980s with due diligence, furnished with antiques and opened to the public as a cafeteria. The Yellow Pavilion, the main base of the park, is run since 1997 by Beltur, the tourism company of the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul. Up to 100 guests can be served at the premise in summer and winter time.

Pink Pavilion :

The Pink Pavilion (Turkish: Pembe Köşk), one of the three mansions in the park built by Khedive Ismail Pasha, is a two-storey, typical Ottoman house. Named after its exterior’s original color of cranesbill flower pink, the pavilion reflects the glory of its history with fine ornaments.

The pavilion is used as a cafeteria on weekends. Furthermore, it available for conventions and wedding ceremonies. In the summer months, the premise can accommodate up to 350 guests, for cocktails up to 500 people. In the winter time, groups of up to 150 guests can be served.

White Pavilion :

The White Pavilion (Turkish: Beyaz Köşk) is the third mansion within the Emirgan Park built by Khedive Ismail Pasha. It is only 150 m (490 ft) far from the Yellow Pavilion. The two-storey wooden building bears the architectural characteristics of the neo-classical style.

The mansion is used in the daytime as a cafeteria and in the evenings as a restaurant of Turkish-Ottoman cuisine.

20. Shopping Malls (Kanyon, Istinye Park, Cevahir, Ak Merkez, Forum, Metro City) :

Kanyon Shopping Mall

Kanyon Towers & Mall in the Levent business district of Istanbul.

Kanyon (meaning Canyon in Turkish) is a multi-purpose complex located at Büyükdere Avenue No. 185 in the Levent business district of Istanbul, Turkey. Opened on 6 June 2006, it unites a 160-store shopping mall (covering an area of 37,500 m2), a 30-floor office tower (26 floors of which rise above street level) and a 22-floor residential block with 179 residential apartments into a complex undulating around a dramatic architectural “canyon”. The total construction area of the project is 250,000 m2, with 30,000 m2 of rentable office area, 37,500 m2 of rentable retail area, 180 residential flats, 160 stores, 9 theater halls with a capacity of 1,600 spectators, and a parking facility for 2,300 vehicles. Each floor of the office tower has a total usable office space of 1,167 m2. The complex rises on an area of 29,427 m2.

There is a walking passage (only 200meters) from 1.Levent subway station and MetroCity Shopping Mall to Kanyon Shopping Mall.

MetroCity AVM

MetroCity AVM, opened on April 30, 2003, is a modern shopping mall in the finance and business quarter of 1. Levent in Istanbul, Turkey, with a direct connection to 1. Levent subway station.

The complex comprises a shopping mall and three towers which rise above it: a 27-floor office tower on Büyükdere Avenue (31 floors when counted from the Zincirlikuyu level at the opposite side),and two residential towers, each having 31 floors (35 floors from Zincirlikuyu level).

  • Location 1. Levent, İstanbul, Turkey
  • Opening date April 30, 2003
  • Land area (m²) 24,178
  • Total enclosed area (m²) 52,000
  • Gross leasable area (m²) 31,980
  • Market (m²) Migros (4,240)
  • Number of stores 140
  • Number of FF/Rest/Cafe 30
  • Anchor tenants (m²) Boyner (6,981)
  • Zara (1,344)
  • Koton (1,367)
  • Marks&Spencer (2,178)
  • TeknoSA (1,027)
  • Maxi Toys (1,065)
  • Flo (1,000)
  • Essporto (4,400)
  • Parking lot capacity 2,500

Istinye Park Shopping Mall

Istinye Park is a shopping center in the İstinye quarter of Istanbul, Turkey with 291 stores, 85,250 sqm of retail area, and four levels of underground parking.

The center features both enclosed and open air sections. The open air section has a green central park and offers street side shopping.

The center includes an authentic Turkish food bazaar- a traditional market place, inspired by Turkish architecture[disambiguation needed] and history.

Design and layout :
Istinye Park has a gross area of 242.000 sqm.

There are three distinct sections present in the building :

  • The Grand Rotunda is a central entertainment space, consisting of a four level arena-like space beneath a scalloped/segmented shell. It is supported by a central exterior mast over 3 panoramic elevators. The 75-meter-diameter hard-shell canopy encloses a 9 m diameter vertically moving stage. The Rotunda also features kinetic water sculptures animated with lights and music.
  • The Lifestyle Center is an open air town square incorporating a green central park and Fashion District- the glass roofed indoor retail area.
  • The Bazaar area is distinguished from the rest of the center with its historical Turkish styling- each facade has been inspired by Turkish architecture and history.

Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Center

Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Center, also known as Şişli Kültür ve Ticaret Merkezi (Şişli Culture and Trade Center) is a modern shopping mall located in the Şişli district of Istanbul, Turkey. Opened on 15 October 2005, Istanbul Cevahir is the largest shopping mall in Europe, and the sixth largest in the world.

Istanbul Cevahir was built on a 62,475 m2 (672,000 sq ft) land plot at a cost of US$250 million. It has a total floor area of 420,000 m2 (4,521,000 sq ft) and a gross leasable area of 110,000 m2 (1,184,000 sq ft) for shops and restaurants. The six retail floors of the shopping centre house 343 shops (some of which are the first in Turkey to sell certain international brands); 34 fast food restaurants and 14 exclusive restaurants.

Other facilities include a large stage for shows and other events; 12 cinemas including a private theatre and a cinema for children; a bowling hall; a small roller coaster; and several other entertainment facilities.

Number of stores and services :

  • 343 shops
  • 48 restaurants
  • 12 cinemas
  • 1 show stage
  • 1 bowling hall
  • 1 roller coaster
  • Total retail floor area
  • 420,000 m2 (4,521,000 sq ft) total floor area
  • 110,000 m2 (1,184,000 sq ft) rentable retail area
  • Number of floors
  • 6 retail floors
  • 4 parking floors
  • 10 floors in total

Akmerkez Shopping Mall

Akmerkez is a shopping mall located in the Etiler quarter of Istanbul, Turkey. It is one of the popular malls in Istanbul. It is about 1,5kms from 1.Levent subway station.

  • Location Etiler, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Opening date December 18, 1993
  • Developed by Akkök-Tekfen-İstikbal
  • Land area (m²) 22,557
  • Total enclosed area (m²) 180,000
  • Gross leasable area (m²) 36,399
  • Market (m²) Macro Center (2,169)
  • Number of stores 246
  • Number of FF/Rest/Cafe 32
  • Anchor tenants (m²)
  • Beymen (4,794)
  • Zara (1,550)
  • Mudo (974)
  • Vakko (617)
  • Massimo Dutti (546)
  • Entertainment 4 halls (502 seats)
  • 2 kids play ground
  • Parking lot capacity: 1,500

Keep in mind, there are more than 100 shopping malls in Istanbul…

Here is a summary for you to make your priority list, but keep in mind you may add different places to your list with higher priority… Better, you can buy a property in Istanbul, to be able to stay longer in Istanbul and see all the hidden places…

November 2012