Bridging the gap between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a stunning, major city with so much to offer and an incredible, rich history of being part of multiple empires and even undergoing a name change from Constantinople to its current one. (Remember the song?) If you get a chance to visit, here are three sights that you absolutely must see.
Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian to prove his empire’s wealth and status to the world, the Hagia Sofia, which was finished in CE 536, has since been converted to a mosque, then a museum, and finally a mosque again. With all of this rich history, you can imagine that it’s one of Istanbul’s most important landmarks.
Built by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century, Topkapi Palace is the place where the Ottoman Empire’s sultans lived and ruled. It’s full of Islamic art, opulent courtyards and tilework, beautifully decorated room, and impressive walls and towers. To see it all takes at least half a day, but it’s well worth it.
An architectural marvel, the Blue Mosque was Sultan Ahmet I’s gift to his capital city, built between 1609 and 1616. It has a controversial past in the Muslim world, and today stands as one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture around.