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  • Last Updated: 25th July 2013

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Istanbul Cultural Attractions

Topkapi Sarayi Palace has been the home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. Now a museum, it is high on the list of tourist sights, so it's a good idea to get there as early as possible to get a place on the Harem tour, after which you can stroll the beautiful palace grounds at your leisure.

The magnificent Haglia Sophia, the Church of the Divine Wisdom, is an incredible building, and one of the most important ever constructed. It is situated very near the Topkapi Palace and other top attractions, making it a focal point of any tour.

Istanbul at night

You'd be forgiven for not recognising the "Blue Mosque" at first sight. That's because the Mosque itself is white. The name comes from the colour of the tiles within the mosque, and these are mostly on the upper level so they are difficult to actually see! The Blue Mosque is, however, an architectural masterpiece, free to visit, and one of Istanbul's premier sights. Be aware that it is closed to non-worshippers for a very brief period (around half an hour) each day.

Other cultural attractions in Istanbul include the Archaeological Museum, one of the richest and most beautiful in the city, the Museum of Sadberk Hanim, located in the village of Büyükdere just outside the city and the Museum of Industry. The best churches and mosques in Istanbul include Rüstem Pasha, Sokollu Mehmet and Hamidiye of Yildiz, St. Georges of the Orthodox Patriarchate, Meryen Ana, and St Mary of the Mongols, which is the oldest functioning church in Istanbul.