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Chora Museum Chora Museum

The most breathtaking historical sights in Istanbul

Explore the city’s most eye-catching historical structures with our concise guide of the sights that should not be missed


Turkey Editor

In a city where you are constantly walking through history, there are endless sights and sounds for you to indulge in. Explore the most visually stimulating historic sights this summer as you start to feel the irresistible connection to the beautiful city of Istanbul.

The Great Palace Mosaic Museum

credit-by-flickr---Elisa-TrioloFlickr/Elisa Triolo

Located in the Sultanahmet Square near Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the Great Palace Mosaic Museum houses mosaics from the Great Palace of Constantinople, which served as the centre of administration for Eastern Roman and Byzantine emperors for over 800 years. The surviving mosaics from the former palace complex were unearthed in a series of excavations during the 20th century. The mosaics depict 90 themes, mostly focusing on rural life with recurring mythological motifs, using a total of 150 human and animal figures.

Rüstem Pasha Mosque


Designed by chief Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, Rüstem Pasha Mosque was constructed in the mid-16th century for grand vizier Rüstem Pasha, who was also the son-in-law of Suleiman the Magnificent. The mosque is known for its impressive collection of Iznik tiles. These tiles depict various geometric and floral motifs, most notably the traditional Ottoman tulip figure in turquoise, emerald and red colours.

Related: 6 of the best Istanbul landmarks

Tiled Kiosk


Set in the outer walls of the Topkapı Palace, the Tiled Kiosk is part of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums. The kiosk was constructed in the 15th century, commissioned by Ottoman sultan Mehmed II. The structure is best known for the blue-and-white Iznik tiles and other ceramics dating from the Seljuks and the Ottomans. Arranged in geometric shapes, the tiles depict natural forms as well as more abstract motifs.

Chora Museum


Originally constructed as a Byzantine church within a monastery complex, the Chora Museum was converted into a mosque in the 16th century during the Ottoman era and later into a museum in 1948. The structure is notable for its Byzantine-era mosaics and frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin Mary and scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. The interior of the museum also houses splendid marble decorations.

Related: Top alternative tours in Istanbul

The Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III


This fountain located in front of the Imperial Gate of the Topkapı Palace was built during the reign of Ottoman sultan Ahmed III in 1728. Its architecture reflects the style of the Tulip period, combining traditional Ottoman and contemporary western stylistic elements. Of particular note are the blue and red tiles, which depict tulip forms characteristic of the era as well as other, more European floral motifs.

Related: What not to miss at the Grand Bazaar

Süleymaniye Mosque

FLICKR-BY-DAN-2Flickr/Dan 2

Another mosque designed by Mimar Sinan, the Süleymaniye Mosque was constructed between 1551 and 1557, commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent. The structure still stands as the largest mosque in Istanbul, although its interior is much simpler in décor than other historic mosques found around the city. The walls above the mihrab are decorated with stained-glass windows, while tile medallions depict surahs (chapters) from the Quran.

1 The Great Palace Mosaic Museum
2 Rüstem Pasha Mosque
3 Tiled Kiosk
4 Chora Museum
5 The Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III
6 Süleymaniye Mosque