Historic Areas of Istanbul

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Istanbul, Turkey

Historic Areas of Istanbul Reviews

rcpilgrim rcpilgrim
40 reviews
Sultanahmet In Istanbul May 22, 2012
The Historic areas of Istanbul date back to 300bc when Constantine became the Holy Roman Emperor and moved the empire to Istanbul. It has since been ruled by the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and was their capital. It is a protected area with UNESCO status. There is so much to see and do. The Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya are the major draws as the Blue Mosque has six minarets, the only one outside of Mecca. The Topkapi Palace is a major highlight too. The area is easy to walk around but needs a few days if you want to see everything as Istanbul is a huge city. Guides and tours are widely available.
The Blue Mosque
Interior of Suleyimaniye Mosque
Ottoman style architecture, built …
Itznik Tilework in the harem at To…
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tarmizi40 tarmizi40
18 reviews
Hagia Sofia Jul 10, 2011
A former Byzantine church and a mosque, The Church of the Holy Wisdom is known as 'Hagia Sophia' in Greek, 'Saint Sophia' in Latin and 'Ayasofya' or 'Aya Sofya' in Turkish. Hagia Sophia has a trail that dates back to 532-537 AD. The monument is unique in its existence - having a base of both Christianity and Islam.

Interesting And Fun Facts About Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, an ex- patriarchal basilica and mosque, is currently serving as a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

The monument is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture, because of its enormous dome.

Hagia Sophia remained the largest cathedral in the world for a span of thousand years, until the construction of Medieval Seville Cathedral in 1520.

The existing structure dates back to 532-537 AD. It was built on the instruction of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

Hagia Sophia was third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site. The earlier two were destroyed during riots.

Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles were the designers of the monument.


It was in 1453 that Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. Following this, Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be changed into the Ayasofya Mosque.

The transformation of the church into a mosque caused the removal of bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels. Eventually, many mosaics were plastered over again.

Under the rule of the Ottomans, Hagia Sophia attained Islamic features, such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside.

Hagia Sophia remained the principal mosque of Istanbul for about 500 years.

The mosque served as a inspiration for the construction the Ottoman mosques, such as Sultan Ahmed Mosque or Blue Mosque of Istanbul, ªehzade Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque, and Rüstem Pasha Mosque.

It was in 1935 that the first Turkish President - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, converted the mosque into a museum.

Hagia Sophia is also referred to as 'Saint Sophia', which means wisdom in Greek. The full name of Hagia Sophia is Church of the Holy Wisdom of God. The church was dedicated to the Holy Wisdom of God, rather than a specific saint named Sophia.

The monument is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world.

The structure of Hagia Sophia has a classic basilica plan. The main ground plan consists of a rectangle, 230 feet in width and 246 feet in length. The area is covered by a central dome with a diameter of 31 meters, slightly smaller than that of the Pantheon in Rome.

Hagia Sophia has the ultimate contrast of two religions together. Both Islam and Christianity have their foothold in museum. While the Islamic calligraphic roundels are suspended from the main dome, the museum also has uncovered Christian mosaics as its prime feature.

Hagia Sophia has forty windows around the base of the dome. It is famous for the mystical quality of light that reflects everywhere in the interior of the nave.

When the dome was placed atop Hagia Sophia, its weight caused the walls to lean outward, because of the wet mortar underneath. In order to rebuild the dome, Isidore had first build up the interior of the walls, so that they were vertical and supported the weight of the new dome.

The height of the present dome is also approximately twenty feet more than the original structure.

The dome of Hagia Sophia is shaped like a scalloped shell or the inside of an umbrella, with ribs that extend from its top, down to its base.

The unique character of the design of Hagia Sophia shows how it is one of the most advanced and ambitious monuments of late antiquity.
Facing Blue Mosque
Interior of Ayasofya
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seraphimkarlien seraphim…
93 reviews
one of the most fascinating cities in Europe Nov 08, 2007
A friend of mine, in honour of whose 30th birthday I first visited Istanbul, once said that when you travel around Europe, you should see Istanbul last, because nowhere else will impress you after. Of course that's an exageration, but I agree with the general sentiment.

It's kind of hard for me to say where the "historic areas" of Istanbul end, but according to the Unesco website, it includes "the ancient Hippodrome of Constantine, the 6th-century Hagia Sophia and the 16th-century Süleymaniye Mosque" - in other words, the Sultanahmet district at large.

The Aya Sophia is one of the most fascinating monuments in a fascinating city. First a church, then a mosque, and now a museum. The one thing that annoyed me there was disrespectful visitors. The employees seemed to be constantly telling people not to use flash, and I didn't help a bit. They really should just not allow anyone to take in cameras to solve the problem.

Another sight, more easily overlooked, are the nearby catacombs. And of course then there's the Topkapi palace, numerous mosques and mausoleums, and remnants of the city walls.

One of my favourite things to do in Istanbul is to sit at the hippodrome, near the Obelisk, behind the Blue Mosque at sunset, and listen to the call for Prayer.
Aya Sophia
Blue Mosque
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