Right in the heart of Istanbul lies a living testimony of the Turkish capital’s wildly fascinating past as the coveted capital city of three great empires. The Hagia Sophia, the most distinguished landmark of Istanbul, is deemed one of the world’s greatest monuments. There are several iconic places to visit near Hagia Sophia which are testament to the vivid past of the city. Remnants of the Byzantine era can be found in the Basilica Cistern, which is Istanbul’s largest surviving Byzantine Cistern. The nine-storeyed Galata Tower dates back to the mediaeval era of the Byzantines and is one of the oldest towers in the world.
As the seat of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul has numerous iconic structures constructed by different Sultans of the powerful dynasty. Witness the magnificence of Turkey’s largest mono-block palace and Istanbul’s first European-style palace at the Dolmabahce Palace. Prepare to be awed by the stunning blue interiors of the last great mosque of the classical period, the iconic Blue Mosque.
Experience the lively spirit of the ancient city come to life at the Byzantine-era hippodrome, Sultanahmet Square. And after a day full of sightseeing, shop to your heart’s content at the world’s largest covered market, the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul.
One of the most popular places to visit near Hagia Sophia, is the Dolmabahce Palace, Turkey's largest mono-block palace and Istanbul’s first European-style palace. The 19th-century palace combines Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical styles with classic Ottoman elements in its interiors.
Its land was originally a bay that was reclaimed and transformed into a grand palace. The two-wing arrangement is adorned extensively with gold and crystal and houses the world’s largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers. The seat of the last Ottoman Sultans and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk currently has on display a valuable collection of oil paintings.
Adorning the Istanbul skyline is the Galata Tower, one of the oldest towers in the world. The nine-storeyed structure is among the most visited places near Hagia Sophia. Originally constructed as a watchtower, it currently stands as a museum narrating Istanbul’s glorious history. The tower offers stunning panoramic views of the Turkish capital city and its magnificent attractions. Offering an iconic conical roof on top of the Tower, along with its stunning purple and blue shades, make Galata Tower one of the most distinguishable landmarks of Istanbul.
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A stunning architectural marvel in the heart of Istanbul, the Blue Mosque is among the must-visit places near Hagia Sophia. Constructed so it would surpass Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque combines the traditional Islamic architecture of the Ottomans with Byzantine architectural elements. This last great mosque of the classical period has five main domes, eight secondary domes, and six minarets. The Blue Mosque’s interiors are adorned with more than 20,000 blue Iznik tiles that showcase traditional Ottoman motifs and are the reason behind its name. Lit up by more than 200 stained glass windows and gorgeous chandeliers, the Blue Mosque is a beautiful sight to behold.
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One of the oldest places to visit near Hagia Sophia, the subterranean Basilica Cistern dates back to 532 CE. Istanbul’s largest surviving Byzantine cistern had 336 columns, several of which have finely carved capitals. The huge cistern was forgotten when the Byzantines relocated from their Great Palace and was later discovered by the Ottomans who made it a dumping ground for junk and corpses.
Currently one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions and among the must-visit places near Hagia Sophia, the Basilica was renovated and opened to tourists in the 1980s. A walk along the raised wooden platforms of the cistern with water dripping from the vaulted ceiling is an unmatched experience.
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Constructed as a Byzantine hippodrome in the 4th century, Sultanahmet Square today has several renowned historical attractions like the German Fountain, Colossus, Serpentine Column, and the Egyptian Obelisk.
This place near Hagia Sophia has a peaceful yet lively atmosphere and leads visitors to Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, historical places, fountains, museums, churches, mosques, and restaurants. Some popular attractions that can be explored on foot or seen from a distance from Sultanahmet Square include the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.
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Witness the grandeur of the Ottomans come alive in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, which is among the world’s most popular tourist attractions. Among the must-visit places near Hagia Sophia, the Bazaar is the world’s largest covered market and dates back to the mid-fifteenth century. The Bazaar has 64 streets and small lanes, which house more than 4,000 shops and are like a mini city with a post office, mosque, banks, and police station. The market has a variety of objects on offer, ranging from Turkey’s famous carpets, kilims, lamps, lanterns, ceramics, metalware, nargile, jewellery, spices and Turkish delights.
Topkapi Palace, adjacent to the iconic Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, is a historical gem. This magnificent palace served as the primary residence of Ottoman sultans for centuries. It boasts stunning architecture, lush gardens, and a vast collection of royal treasures, including jewelry, manuscripts, and artifacts. Visitors can explore its opulent chambers, harem, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Bosphorus, making it an essential stop for those exploring the rich heritage of Sultanahmet.
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The Hagia Sophia is the most distinguished landmark of Istanbul and a living testimony of the Turkish capital’s fascinating past. The structure, deemed as one of the world’s greatest monuments, was rebuilt from a destroyed church into its current magnificence. Constructed in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian, the then Church of Holy Wisdom was the world’s largest cathedral for a millennium.
When Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) fell to the Ottomans in the mid-fifteenth century, the Cathedral was converted into a mosque, the Hagia Sophia. It was with the 20th-century modernisation of Turkey that the Hagia Sophia became a museum, and was recently reconverted back into a mosque. Hagia Sophia is a unique amalgamation of Christian and Islamic traditions and is one of the world’s greatest architectural and cultural icons.
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Some of the best places to visit near Hagia Sophia Mosque include the Blue Mosque, Dolmabahce Palace, Galata Tower, Basilica Cistern, Sultanahmet Square, and Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Indulge in the lively atmosphere of Istanbul and soak up in the city’s rich cultural traditions as you visit these popular attractions and relish Turkish delicacies at local restaurants and cafes.
The Dolmabahce Palace, among the most visited places near Hagia Sophia, is a stunning example of European influence on Ottoman art and culture. One can witness the world’s largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers and a valuable collection of oil paintings in this palace adorned with crystals and gold. The Dolmabahce Palace is an exquisite testimony of the wealth and might of the Ottomans that makes it worth a visit in your lifetime..
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The Dolmabahce Palace, the last royal residence of the Ottoman Sultans and one of the places to visit near Hagia Sophia, is known for its magnificent splendour and beauty. The sprawling two-winged palace masterfully combines 19th-century Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles with traditional Ottoman elements, and reflects the imperial lifestyle in the final years of the Sultanate. This palace is also known for being the only palace in Istanbul which showed traces of European influence in its architecture.
Yes, visitors are welcome to visit Dolmabahce Palace from 9 AM to 6 PM on all days of the week except Mondays.
A detailed tour of the Dolmabahce Palace takes approximately two to three hours. It is recommended that you visit in the early hours to avoid crowds and enjoy the guided tours to the maximum.
The Galata Tower, one of the places to visit near Hagia Sophia, is the most prominent structure on the Istanbul skyline and one of the oldest towers in the world. The nine-storeyed structure has a conical roof and lights up the city skyline in blue and purple shades every evening. The tower has an observation deck on its topmost floor, from where visitors can witness panoramic views of Istanbul and learn about its glorious past at the Galata Tower Museum.
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The 360-degree panoramic views of the entire Istanbul cityscape and its major attractions are what the Galata Tower, among must-visit places near Hagia Sophia, offers. As you stand atop one of the oldest towers in the world, you can witness the magnificent city’s past and present mingle. Learn about the city that was the capital of three great empires at the Galata Tower Museum and let the city enchant you with its present glory as you go up the Galata Tower.
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The Blue Mosque, among the places to visit near Hagia Sophia, rivals Hagia Sophia in its magnificence and is unique because of its six minarets and blue interiors. Among the most impressive Ottoman structures, the still-functional mosque combines Byzantine and Ottoman elements in its architecture. The structure is lit up by more than 200 stained glass windows and huge chandeliers and is a beautiful sight to behold inside and out.
The Basilica Cistern was lost to the world after the Byzantine Emperors of the Great Palace relocated. It was in the mid-sixteenth century that the Dutch traveller, P Gyllius, came to the Ottoman capital to explore Byzantine era ruins and rediscovered the Basilica Cistern.