Mosques and museums are the top tourist attractions in Istanbul, while palaces and the fortresses remain as the second. Istanbul has a rich historical background with the heritage of both Byzantium and Ottoman Empires. Its cultural attractions are the primary reasons to visit the city. The historic area of Istanbul is home to Hagia Sophia and Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) and Topkapi Palace, which has UNESCO World Heritage status. Istanbul’s bazaars such as Spice and Grand Bazaar are the other fascinating tourist points of the city. The Panorama 1453 and Istanbul Modern are the main museums to attract the visitors around the world.

Events that are taking place in Istanbul show the importance of culture for the city’s tourism. International Film Festival, International Theater Festival, Istanbul Music Festival, Jazz Festival and the Biennial reveal that there is something for each tourist who is interested in the arts. The Istanbul Biennal was started in 1987 and keeps growing as a major international event.

Istanbul is also a hub for MICE and international events such as Webit Congress, EnerTech Turkey, Conference of Urban Transport, EWRA and InterSolar Turkey. A great number of Arab youths are attracted by different artistic experiences, which can be found in Istanbul museums such as Istanbul Modern and other small art galleries.

Istanbul’s nightlife has an important role in attracting the younger tourists. Younger people from neighboring countries visit the city for short terms in order to entertain theirselves. Istanbul nightclubs, bars, and restaurants are uniting western and eastern culture under an umbrella.

Istanbul bazaars are known for being a focal point for international tourists. Traditional bazaars overshadow luxury shopping in comparison, which catches more attention among tourists. However, luxury shopping potential in Istanbul is growing day by day. There is also a remarkable market of local fashion in Galata, which is a magnet for tourist attention.

Top Tourist Attractions in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia has been a house of worship for several religions for over the centuries.

Blue Mosque

20.000 ceramic tiles in tulip designs, 200 stained glasses make the Blue Mosque a unique tourist attraction. It takes its name from the blue tiles on the dome and the upper levels of interiors.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was built in the 15th century. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Sea of Marmara. It was the residence of Ottoman sultans during Ottoman era and now is a museum that is the largest and oldest palace in the world.

Grand Bazaar

With 5000 shops selling spices, antiques and hand-painted ceramics, Grand Bazaar is the largest indoor market in the world.

Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace is Turkey’s most glamorous palace blending Ottoman architecture with the European, Neoclassical, Baroque and Rococo styles. Palace is also home to world’s largest crystal chandelier, which was a gift from Queen Victoria.
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