Istanbul is one of the oldest cities in existence, and because it has been the capital of 3 empires, there is lots to see!

So we thought we would compile a shortlist for you of the best historical places to see in Istanbul:

1-      Visit Topkapı Palace; The Ottoman Empire’s primary palace for 3 centuries contains just about anything you need to know, including: culture, ceremonial courts, kitchen life, Harem life, Islamic relics and so on. Don’t forget to see the Ahmed III Fountain on the right hand side of the outer garden entrance. Also, be sure to pay a visit to the Hagia Irine Church and the Istanbul Archeology Museum while you are in the outer garden of Topkapi Palace.

2-      Visit Hagia Sophia: One of the largest churches ever built, Hagia Sophia is a must see in Istanbul with its giant dome.

Istanbul - Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque at night

Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque view from Bosphorus

3-      Visit the Blue Mosque: Standing opposite Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque is famous for its handmade mosaics which are mostly blue. The Blue Mosque (Originally Sultanahmet Mosque) is something of a wonder in the Islamic world with its six minarets.

4-      Visit the Hippodrome (At Meydanı): Near the Blue Mosque, you will see a large square which is home to an Eygptian obelisk and the Fountain of Keiser Wilhelm II. Don’t miss seeing this square!

5-      Visit the Basilica Cistern: You should visit the Basilica cistern after you visit Hagia Sophia, both of which are very close to each other. The Cistern was built by Byzantium kings in order to supply water to Istanbul’s population which was close to 500, the 6th century.

6-      Visit the Grand Bazaar: One of the oldest malls in the world, the Grand Bazaar is still standing after centuries and offers something of a paradise for traders and shoppers. Imagine a mall with 3600 shops, 64 avenues and streets, 22 gates, 20,000 workers and more than 300,000 visitors. It is the Grand Bazaar!

7-      Visit the Spice Bazaar and New Mosque: The Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) has played a central role in the spice trade for centuries, as you will notice from the aromas when you set food inside. Make sure to taste the snacks and dried fruit and don’t miss the pickle and cheese market just outside. Because of the structure of New Mosque, the most typical example of an Ottoman Islamic style mosque, you should see it before or after visiting the Spice Bazaar. You may also like to check out Rustem Pasa Mosque.

8-      Have a break at Corlulu Ali Pasa Medresesi: Between Çemberlitaş and Beyazıt, there is an old Islamic Academy (Medrese) building which has been converted into a traditional cafe. The Medrese has been welcoming locals and travellers for ages and serves Turkish coffee, apple tea, and, without a doubt, Nargile (Shisha).

9-      Visit Dolmabahçe Palace: This late Ottoman Empire palace, which is built near the Bosphorus, is one of the most important historical places worth seeing in Istanbul.

10-   Walk and have a night out on Istiklal Avenue: With old apartments, pubs and bars, churches and old shops, Istiklal Avenue and the backstreets of Beyoglu are also a must see!

We listed these “10 must see historical places in Istanbul” keeping in mind that you may not be a big fan of historical places. But, if you are curious and have time to see more, here is a long list of “Historical places to see in Istanbul”:

You should start with old part of the city;

–          Hagia Sophia

–          Topkapı Palace

–          Bluemosque (Sultanahmet Mosque)

–          Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)

–          Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)

–          Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar)

–          Istanbul Archeology Museum

–          Suleymaniye Mosque

–          See Hippodrome and Obelisk

–          Rüstem Paşa Mosque

–          Zeyrek Mosque and Complex

–          Şehzadebaşı Mosque

–          New Mosque

–          Hagia Irine Church

–          Chora Church (Kariye Museum)

–          Bulgar Church (Church of St Stephen)

Istanbul Grand Bazaar Kapali Carsi

Istanbul Grand Bazaar Kapali Carsi

–          Yedikule(Castle of Seven Towers)

–          Church of the St Sergius and St Bacchus(Küçük Ayasofya)

–          Hünkar Kasrı (Mansion)

–          Beyazıt Mosque

–          Sahaflar Çarşısı (Old Bookstore Bazaar)

–          Sogukcesme Street

–          Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Ibrahim Paşa Palace)

–          Valens Aqueduct (Bozdoğan Kemeri)

–          Corlulu Ali Paşa Medresesi

–          Sokullu Mehmed Pasa Mosque

–          Fountain of Kaiser Wilhelm II

–          Cemberlitaş Hamam

–          Old Houses in Balat

–          Yavuz Selim Mosque

–          Fatih Mosque

–          Buyuk Yeni Han

–          Fethiye Mosque

–          Old City Walls

–          Greek Patrichate of Istanbul

Istanbul Maiden's Tower

Maiden's Tower - Istanbul Bosphorus

Rest of the city has also lots to see;

–          Dolmabahçe Palace

–          Galata Tower

–          Maiden’s Tower

–          Ortaköy Mecidiye Mosque

–          Yıldız Palace

–          Beylerbeyi Palace

–          İstiklal Avenue

–          Tunnel in Karaköy

–          Panorama 1453 Museum

–          Eyüp Mosque and Complex

–          Houses in Princes Islands

–          Hagia Yorgos Church

–          St. Antuan Church

–          St. Antonio Church

–          Italian Church

–          Dolmabahçe Mosque

–          Dolmabahçe Clock Tower

–          Hidiv Kasrı (Pavilion)

–          Emirgan Pavilions( White, Pink and Yellow Pavilions)

–          Fethi Pasa Pavilion

–          Mihrimah Sultan Mosque

–          Valide Atik Mosque and Complex

–          Çinili Hamam

–          Hagia Triada Church