Backpacking in Istanbul can be a very exciting trip. Istanbul has majestic palaces and houses of worship that depict the unique architectural designs of various periods in its history. In addition to visiting these popular attractions, you should also explore the streets and study the plethora of menus offered in various restaurants. You may also attempt to take a short cruise and visit the various bazaars to get some souvenirs to bring back home with you. Here is a brief list of things to see and do on your trip.
Hagia Sophia is Emperor Justinian’s Byzantine era masterpiece built in the sixth century between 532 and 537 AD. Many centuries after, the church became a mosque when the Sultans took over turkey. Hagia Sophia served as a mosque between 1453 and 1934 before it was turned into a secular museum. Once regarded as the biggest cathedral on earth, for many centuries, this building has become a symbol of the history of Istanbul with picturesque Christian mosaics existing beside Islamic calligraphy.
The famous Blue Mosque built by Sultan Ahmed I in the 1600s is located in the Sultanahmet neighborhood, not very far from the Hagia Sophia. Sultan Ahmed was determined to build a mosque that will be more elegant and attractive than Hagia Sophia and he accomplished it. It is an awesome sight to behold with a variety of domes and minarets. You can visit this mosque when it is open to the public. However, because it is an Islamic religious center, you should dress conservatively and be very respectful of their culture.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
This Museum is a fascinating place comprising three separate buildings. It currently contains at least one million artifacts. Located very close to the Topkapi Palace, this museum, which opened in 1891, contains the amazing sarcophagus of Alexander, portraying scenes from the exploits of Alexander the Great. You can also see the Tiled Pavilion which is one of Istanbul’s precious Ottoman structures. Another famous attraction in this museum is the Sarcophagus of Crying Women which shows panels depicting mourning women.
Taking a Bosphorus cruise gives you a good overview of the city of Istanbul. Cruising along the shores of Asian and European coastline and the popular waterway will give you an opportunity to see ancient palaces and mansions. There are three types of cruises: a short one which takes you to the 2nd suspended bridge, a long one that takes you down to the Black Sea, and the sunset tour that lasts for a whole day.
This is one of the oldest and biggest indoor shopping markets on earth. It has thousands of shops manned by very zealous vendors. At the Grand Bazaar, you can buy various items including clothing, jewelry, art, carpets and lots more. You will also find a wide variety of cafes and restaurants here. Note that you could be literally hypnotized by the huge volume of items for sale. However, you should be aware that the vendors will request for high prices for items you want to buy and you are expected to haggle with tact, starting with a very low price and then moving up gradually while the vendor reduces the initial price.
Those are just a few of the things you can see and do when you visit Istanbul in Turkey. If you are going on a vacation to Istanbul for the first time, you should endeavor to include these attractions in your itinerary.