things to do in Istanbul

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What is it? Looming over the point where the Golden Horn meets the Marmara Sea, Topkapı Palace was the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for more than four centuries.

Why go?: Among the gems of the historic peninsula, Topkapı’s extensive rooms, chamber houses and fascinating objects, including the 86-carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond, make the museum a must-see.


Among the world’s oldest and largest covered markets, the Grand Bazaar features thousands of shops spread across dozens of streets. It’s a worthy destination even for those not planning on buying anything, as the historic atmosphere of the widespread complex is its true appeal. If you’re planning on making purchases, be sure to put your bargaining hat on and show no mercy

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One of Istanbul’s most intriguing attractions, the Basilica Cistern, or Yerebatan Sarnıcı as it’s known in Turkish, was built by Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century to store up to 80,000m3 of water and channel it to nearby palaces. Supported by hundreds of Ionic and Corinthian columns, it also features two column bases of unknown origin emblazoned with the upside-down head of Medusa, leaving bewildered visitors to speculate why they were situated that way. The cool, dark underground complex is also a great way to escape the summer heat.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”

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St. Antoine Church

The largest and most prominent Catholic church in Istanbul, the majestic St. Antoine on Istiklal Caddesi was built between 1906 and 1912 in the Venetian Neo-Gothic style. St Antoine offers masses throughout the week in English, Turkish, Polish and Italian, and is a nice place to pop in for a moment of silent reflection after spending the morning traversing the crowded Beyoğlu district. Before being elected as pope, Pope John XXIII preached at St. Antoine for a number of years when he served as Vatican's apostolic delegate to Turkey. He is commemorated by a statue located in the courtyard


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