Topkapı Palace constructed by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, (the Conqueror) in 1478 has been the official residence of the Otoman Sultans and center of State Administration around 380 years until the construction of Dolmabahçe Palace by Sultan Abdülmecid. The palace having around 700.000 m.² area during the foundation years has currently 80.000 m.² area.
Hagia Sophia, which is considered as one of the eight wonders of the world, also occupies a prominent place in the history of art and architecture. It is one of the rare works of this size and age that has survived to our day. The church (called Ayasofya in Turkish) is erroneously known as Saint Sophia in the west. The basilica was not dedicated to a saint named Sophia, but to Divine Wisdom. St. Sophia has been an inspiration for Ottoman mosques thought in idea, and is reviewed as a product of east-west synthesis. St. Sophia served for 916 years as church and 481 years as mosque since its year of construction. Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum in 1935.
Built in the reign of Sultan I Abdulmecit during the 19th century, this over-ornate palace lies along the European coast of the Bosphorus. Dolmabahce Palace was constructed between 1843 and 1856, mixing different European artistic influences and built by Abdulmecit’s architect, Karabet Balya. It was built over three levels, and symmetrically planned, with 285 chambers and 43 halls. The palace has a level of luxury not present in most other palaces, with walls and ceilings decorated with gold, and European art from the period. Top quality silk and wool carpets, southeast Asian hand-made artifacts, and crystal candlesticks adorn every room. The men’s hamam (public bath) is adorned with alabaster marble, and the harem also contains the Sultan’s bedrooms and the women and servants’ divisions.
One could only visit Istanbul for the shopping alone. The Grand Bazaar in the old city is the logical place to start. Charming souvenirs and gifts can be selected from among Turkish crafts, the world-renowed carpets, gold jewelry, brillant handpainted ceramics. The Old Bedesten offers a curious assortment of antiques. *Spice Bazaar*, next to the Yeni Mosque at Eminonu, transports you to fantasies from the mystical East. Sultanahmet has become another shopping center in the old city. The Bazaar of Istanbul Arts, The Arasta (Old Bazaar) of the Sultanahmet Mosque a thriving shopping arcade makes both shopping and sightseeing Istanbul very convenient.
One of the largest of Istanbul's structures, the complex includes a mosque, medresses, the sultan's chamber, shops of tradesmen, a hamam, a public fountain with a spout, a mausoleum, a hospital, a soup kitchen and a primary school. Some of these survived to the present. The complex was built (1609-1617) by the architect Mehmet Aga for Sultan Ahmet I. The mosque is located in the centre of the complex and referred to as 'Blue Mosque' on account of the roughly 20,000 blue glazed tiles which covered its exterior.
Underground Cistern which is also known as Yerebatan Palace was built in app. 540 A.D. by the Emperor Justinianos I of the Byzantine Empire. A big square was dug underneath the ground and it was supported by 300 columns. At the time, it was the most important water storage area and provided water to the whole city. Its exotic and unbelievable appreance make the cistern an irresistable attraction.