Istanbul's Most Important Landmarks

If you're booked into one of the best hotels in Istanbul, Turkey's cultural and economic heart, then it is an absolute sin not to explore in depth and drink in the beautiful history of this grand old city. Consider a visit to these excellent world-famous sites.

Hagia Sophia (aka Holy Widom aka Ayasofya)

If there is one place you must visit in your trip to this ancient city, it is the iconic Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia started out as a beautiful Christian cathedral housing many sacred relics, but was captured and converted by Ottoman Turks into a grand mosque. It was then converted into a national museum in 1935, showcasing many works of art with both Muslim and Christian roots. Museum hours are between 9:30am to 4:30pm, so make sure you take this in consideration when visiting.

The Blue Mosque (aka the Sultan Ahmed Mosque aka Sultan Ahmet Camii)

The Blue Mosque is directly inspired by the Hagia Sophia but is itself a masterful work of art. More than 20,000 ceramic tiles in vibrant shades of blue decorate the interior of the mosque - hence the name. The most striking piece of art in the Blue Mosque, however, is the mihrab contained within. Finely carved marble d├ęcor, surrounded by exquisite windows, add a layer of solemnity to this grand old mosque. The Blue Mosque itself is located near some of the best hotels in Istanbul and is easily accessible by by foot or car.

Istanbul Modern Art Museum (aka the Istanbul Modern aka the Istanbul Modern Sanat Muzesi

If you want to learn more about modern Turkish art, you will definitely want to pay a visit to one of the city's most prominent museums. The Istanbul Modern boasts a wide range of pieces from local Turkish artists, from photographs containing their own narratives to sculptures that express the creative impulses that were borne from the city's rich past. The Istanbul Modern is conveniently located close to some of the best hotels in Istanbul, making it accessible to anyone visiting the city.

The Grand Bazaar (aka Buyuk Carsi)

The Grand Bazaar is one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets, hosting more than 3,000 shops spread over 61 covered streets. This is a great place not only to shop for local souvenirs and delicacies, but also to breathe in much of the history behind the bazaar. While it is located near many top hotels and comes with quite a few modern accoutrements, the history behind the roofs and walls of the Grand Bazaar can still touch people in many subtle ways.

Remember that while many of the best hotels in Istanbul offer accommodations to make you feel comfortable and pampered, you can only truly say you've known the city after you've visited these top historical sites.