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Top Rated Attractions in Istanbul

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Dolmabahçe Palace

Boasting of hundreds of opulent rooms, lavish Turkish baths and entrances which look like gateways to heaven, Dolmabahçe Palace is ostentatious. Nestled along the picturesque coast of Bosphorus, this elegant palace was built close to the mid-1800s, under the orders of the then-Sultan Abdülmecid I. Bearing a stately Neoclassical visage adorned with finial decorations, and fronted by ornamental gardens and jubilant fountains, the palace boasts an interior which is a different world in itself. Flamboyant, and unabashedly luxurious, the insides of this palace are a paradisaical mosaic of gilded ceiling work, effervescent chandeliers, crystal stairways and authentic bearskin rugs. Particularly noteworthy are the Pink Hall, the Medhal Hall, the Blue Hall and Ataturk’s Room, where the revered revolutionary took his last breaths. Also lodged on the palace grounds is the glorious Dolmabahçe Clock Tower and the ornate Dolmabahçe Mosque, both of which hearken back to the palace's bygone, yet everlasting splendor. A canopy of unhindered extravagance, the waterfront Dolmabahçe Palace reserves a special place in the hearts of the Turkish people.

Pera Müzesi

The Pera Museum was founded in 2005 as an initiative by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation. Located in what was formerly Hotel Bristol, the refurbished space retains it Ottoman Greek architecture. It houses three permanent collections and a myriad of rotating exhibitions as a platform for emerging and established artists. Endowed by the industrialist Rahmi Koc and his descendants, it is a treasure trove of the wealthy family's inventory of culturally-significant Turkish works. It features handwritten Ottoman-era publications, Byzantine works, and a stunning book selection. With a host of cultural events and collaborations, this is a great place to soak in the country's culture.

Istanbul Archaeology Museums

Arkeoloji Müzesi (Istanbul Archaeology Museums) has twenty galleries filled with artifacts gathered from all over Turkey and the Near East celebrate 5000 years of history with exhibits from Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire and the many civilizations of Anatolia and ancient Egypt. The main building houses the finds of nineteenth-century archaeologist Osman Hamdi Bey, in particular the famous 4th-century Alexander sarcophagus discovered at the royal necropolis of Sidon in Lebanon. The Museum of the Ancient Orient contains artifacts from Egypt and Mesopotamia, including a magnificent frieze of a bull from the Ishtar gate in Babylon.

Basilica Cistern

A vision soaked in cavernous magnificence, Yerebatan Sarnıcı or Basilica Cistern is the largest of many cisterns thriving in the underneath Istanbul. Constructed in the 6th-century during Emperor Justinian I's reign, this cistern served as an incredible nexus of water filtration systems for many medieval empires. Historical records establish that once situated on the grounds of the cistern was a basilica, complete with an ornate facade and ornamental gardens. Filled with traces of timeworn Middle-Eastern architecture, curious explorers wander along wooden pathways, ancient pillars, carved columns and mystical arches. To the northwest lie the bases of two Medusa-headed beams that can be traced back to the Roman era. Such is its allure that the cistern has also been a setting for Hollywood blockbusters including one from the James Bond series. Permeated with a transcendental aura, this subterranean cistern is the only site of its kind which has been restored for public viewing.

Khedive Palace

Khedive Palace is a famous landmark in Istanbul, with its unusual main tower jutting above the tree line around Cubuklu. A beautifully preserved remnant of Ottoman hiştory and formerly the residence of the Egyptian Governor during Ottoman times, it is now open to the public, and offers a splendid restaurant for its visitors. It's a popular place for Sunday brunch. The residence is also a perfect place to host corporate meetings and cocktail parties. It's not the easiest place to find, but its stunning architecture and view are well worth the effort.

Rahmi M. Koç Museum

Rahmi M. Koç Museum is a great place to learn about the history of communications, transport, and industry. It's located on the shores of the Golden Horn and showcases research and engineering objects used throughout history. Items on display here are from around the world, and visitors will learn interesting tidbits about this rich subject. The museum has a tearoom, shop, pub, and restaurant on site.

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