1) The Hagia Sophia
There are few words to describe Hagia Sophia. It is just magnificent. It was once originally an Eastern Orthodox Church, and then converted into a church by the Ottoman Empire, then a museum and now back to a mosque. The history can be seen in the church as you look up to its ceilings and windows. With a mix of both religions, with the names of big Islamic personalities hanging in huge plaques, it is truly a unique place of worship. It’s ceilings, art and general architecture are a must-see and something truly special and unique to Istanbul.
2) The Blue Mosque/Sultan Ahmet Mosque
Found right opposite the Hagia Sophia stands the Blue Mosque. Known as the blue mosque because of its 20 000 handmade blue tiles linings its interior. Donning five main domes, 8 secondary domes and 5 minarets, it is a gorgeous site signatory to Istanbul.
3) The Grand Bazaar
No trip to Istanbul is complete without a trip to the Grand Bazaar. It’s shopping galore from clothing, to purses, perfumes, shoes, to Turkish mementoes. A full day can easily be spent here and it’s like you’ve entered a whole new world. Be sure to haggle for anything to buy, those prices have been highly exaggerated and sellers can easily half their prices.
4) Explore the City and visit its several mosques
While the mosques in Istanbul may seem similar and placate the entire city, each mosque is in itself somewhat unique. They’re free to enter so be sure to go in and visit these truly beautiful mosques.
5) Galata Mevlevi House
What was once a sufi dervish lodge has now been turned into a museum. It was the first dervish house in Istanbul. With a cemetery and a courtyard outside, it provides a quiet contrast to the busy streets of Istanbul. It’s courtyard leading up to the lodge is made of stone and once you enter the lodge – preserved are the instruments and everyday belongings of the sufis that used to live there giving you an insight into the lives they would lead. Whirling dervish performances can also be watched here on certain days – be sure to call in to find out when these are. In these performances, dervishes whirl as a practice of devotion.