Two must-see attractions in the historic district of Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque is the dominating aspects of the skyline in Istanbul. The magnificent structure has six minarets that shine silver in the light of the sun. The mosque was constructed close to four hundred years ago in about 1603 – 17 by Sultan Ahmet I. Sultan Ahmet I had the mosque built and designed so as to rival the grandeur of the great Haghia Sophia church, located just a short distance in the north.

The Blue Mosque

In fact, the Blue Mosque was designed not only as a challenge to Haghia Sophia, but also the holiest Islamic mosque in Mecca. At the time when the mosque was built, it was only the Mecca that had six minarets. To offset the scandal, architects had a seventh minaret installed in Mecca.

Blue Mosque and Istanbul aerial view

The domes, arches and semi domes of the Blue Mosque add to the awe inspiring grandeur that is to be seen here. The inner sanctum of the mosque has some of the most impressive architecture ever seen in the world. The vast interiors, with the thousands of blue hued tiles, stained glass windows and giant columns make for a great time.

The Ottoman masterpiece is a living structure that is a religious center that is visited in large numbers by the faithful. Make sure you maintain the proper respect while you are here.

Topkapi Palace

One of the most famous historical structures in the city of Istanbul in Turkey, Topkapi Palace is simply legendary. The palace was the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans for close to four hundred years. The palace stands in silent testimony to the major events and happenings in history of the nation. The palace is iconic and is an extremely famous destination that has a huge number of things to see.

The Gate of Salutation, Topkapi Palace

The Gate of Salutation, Topkapi Palace

It was Sultan Mehmed II that ordered the new palace building to be built. This was some years after the Ottoman Conquest of 1453, in 1459. The palace was expanded again and again and the tallest spot at the promontory was the private quarters of royalty. The other portions of the building extend in the outward direction, towards the shores of Bosphorus. Topkapi Palace is home to more that 37 portraits of rulers and sultans in the upper gallery of the palace. The portraits of the rulers are exhibited in correct chronological order. A majority of the portraits in the gallery are not originals, as many European countries are in possession of the original portraits. There are copies placed at the gallery.

The portrait Sultan Mehmed II was painted by G Bellini from Italy in the 15th century. The portrait is right now at the National Gallery of London. The gallery of the Topkapi palace has a replica painted by Zonaro, who was the palace painter in the early 20th century.

In accordance with places to see in Istanbul, there are also nearby destinations that can be seen in same day. Ephesus tours from Istanbul being the most popular of these, overnight stays in Cappadocia area is the second most popular.

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