Fall in love with the striking church, mosque and now a museum, the incredible Hagia Sophia. One of the most famous historical sites in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia was commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 CE. It served as a church until 1453 CE when the Ottomans occupied Istanbul. Led by Mehmed the Conqueror, the church was converted into a mosque. It was then secularized almost 500 years later by the late President Ataturk, who converted the mosque into a museum due to its historical, religious and architectural significance. Rebuilt three times at the same site, Hagia Sophia houses the museum with an outstanding mosaic and cultural collection. You will see a mixture of Christian and Islamic traditions, such as the minbar, where the Imam delivers sermons in the center of Hagia Sophia. You will catch glimpses of Christian icons revealing themselves through the restoration process. This gorgeous structure reflects the marvellous Byzantine architecture. It is the second most visited museum in Turkey attracting 3.3 million visitors. This phenomenal museum is one of a kind, your trip will not be complete without a visit to the Hagia Sophia.
The Grand Bazar
Shopaholic? No worries, the Grand Bazaar is regarded as one of the largest and oldest shopping centers in the world. It has a thriving and lively atmosphere that is lost today in many of the modern shopping malls. The Grand Bazaar consists of 61 streets with over 3,000 shops employing 26,000 people with approximately 300,000 daily visitors. Everything is up for bartering and you should never pay full price for anything. The Turkish shop owners in the Grand Bazaar are some of the best sales people so be sure to put them to the test. You can find pretty much anything from European clothes, gold jewelry, Turkish carpets, souvenirs and accessories. Buy gifts for your loved ones at the Grand Bazar of Turkey.
Explore the show stopping Topkapi Palace built to house the mighty Ottomans for 400 years. It is strategically located alongside the Bosporus. Transformed into a museum after the decline of the Ottomans, Topkapi Palace showcases Prophet Muhammed’s (SAW) sword, cloak, beard hair, tooth and Musa’s (SAW) staff. Topkapi is one of the best preserved examples of the Ottoman Palaces that we have today and it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jewelry, shields, weapons, and armor from the Ottomans is also displayed for the public eye. Let the Bosporus breeze refresh your face while you admire the architecture of the museum. The interior of the palace includes gorgeous patterns representing the elegant styles of the Ottomans. Spend a full day to truly appreciate the atmosphere of the palace that will keep you intrigued from one building to the next. Topkapi Palace was once home to 4,000 people and is now destination to 3.1 million tourists every year. You can be one of them, plan your trip to the world famous palace today.