Istanbul Old City
Istanbul was once the great imperial city of Constantinople, the capital of the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine the Great.
For more than 1,000 years - under the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires - Istanbul was trumpeted as the greatest city on earth, thanks in no small part to its towering cathedral the Hagia Sophia and its grand bazaars which brought together traders from all across the world to deal in furs, spices and exotics.
Istanbul was named a European Capital of Culture in 2010, and most of the historic landmarks and attractions that earned the city this prestigious award can be found in Istanbul's Old City - the Sultanahmet. The Old City is also one of 4 zones known collectively as the "Historic Areas of Istanbul" that were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
What to see in Istanbul's Old City
- The Hagia Sophia - a grand domed museum that once was an Orthodox basilica, then a Catholic cathedral and finally a mosque, the Hagia Sophia is the most iconic landmark associated with Istanbul and is a must-see for visitors.
- Topkapi Palace - the home of most of the Ottoman Sultans who ruled over Istanbul; containing important holy Muslim relics including the cloak and sword of the prophet Muhammed.
- The Sultanahmet Mosque - a historic mosque called the "blue mosque" due to its blue-tiled interior; widely considered the last great mosque built in classical times.
- The Basilica Cistern - a stunning, cathedral-like cistern built by the Romans to hold the water of Istanbul, providing an irrigation system for the gardens of nobles and royalty living in the city.
- The Theodesian Walls - ancient city walls built in AD 480, replacing the old Roman walls and defending the city against foreign invaders.
- The Grand Bazaar - home to more than 5,000 shops, this historic market is one of the best places to go shopping in Istanbul.
Getting to Instabul Old City from our hotel
Located in the upmarket district of Ortakoy, our Istanbul hotel, the Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel, is just a 15-minute drive from Istanbul Old City and the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Sultanahmet Mosque.