Istanbul’s ancient heart is a treasure trove of beautiful buildings, ancient art and colourful people. These days the population of Istanbul exceeds 13,000,000 people however in Sultanahmet time seems to have stood still. Regardless of large flashy tour buses the area hosts some amazing sights but interspersed between these almost as if they themselves were anchors to the past are the winding narrow sidestreets inhabited by locals and their families. On this amazing journey through Istanbul’s ancient heart you will visit some of the finest examples of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture all in close proximity to each other and accessible mainly on foot from your hotel.
Hagia Sophia means “Divine Wisdom” in Greek, this was an Orthodox church dedicated to holly wisdom, not to a Saint Sophia as some people wrongly call it today. Turkish people call it Aya Sofya, it’s a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque, now located in Sultanahmet neighborhood being one of the most important museums of Istanbul considered as a World Heritage by UNESCO. It is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture.
Also known as the Sultan Ahmet Camii (or Sultan Ahmed Mosque), this breath-taking building is one of the most majestic Ottoman mosques in all of Turkey. Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque by many tourists because of its bluish interior decoration, is the most important mosque of Istanbul standing next to the Byzantine Hippodrome in the old city center. It was built by the Ottoman sultan Ahmed I between 1609 – 1616 facing Hagia Sophia, in order to compete with it. Its architect was Sedefkar Mehmet Aga, a poet and inlayer as well, and a student of the greatest architect Sinan. When Ahmed I died in 1617, he was buried near the mosque and a mausoleum was built over his tomb.
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a horse-racing track that was the spotring and social activity centre of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The Hippodrome is a park in front of Blue Mosque. It is also known as horse square because historically horce racing was done but today this place holds the obelisks. The first monument is the obelisk of Theodosius from Egypt. It’s height is 20 m. The second monument is serpentine column. It consisted three snakes twisted together but we don’t have their heads now only a chin of one snake was found and it is in Istanbul archeology museum . this column was built for a victory of the Greeks against of the Persians. It was kept in the temple of Apollo at Delphi. Constantine carried it to Istanbul in 324. It was believed that this column protected the city from insects. The third monument is obelisk of Constantine VII seen on the Hippodrome. You will also see The German Fountain . It was a present from the king of German, Wilhelm II for the Sultan Abdülhamid II.
One of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar dates from the 15th century. Having more than 4000 shops, the Grand Covered Bazaar is visited by the tourists and the citizens regularly. The most important historical shopping center of Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar, which has gates opening to many areas of the Historic Peninsula. First time visitors to the Grand Bazaar will be astounded by its splendor and size.
Topkapi Palace; The Administrative centre of Ottoman Empire from 1465 to 1853. The Construction of the Palace was ordered by Sultan Mehmet II in 1459 and completed in 1465. Topkapý Palace has three main gates called Bab-ý Humayun, Babu’s Saade and Babu’s Selam. It has four courtyards, Harem-i Humayun, garden of the palace Gulhane. There is a sultan and a palace. This palace is home to the sultan and his family but on the other hand and it is a center of government. The palace is located on the most beautiful point of the historical peninsula. The area covered by the palace is 700.000 m2 .
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