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.
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.
The magnificent Hagia Sophia was built at the behest of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 BCE, then known as the Church of the Holy Wisdom. A remarkable testament to the ingenuity of the Byzantine architects, the Hagia Sophia was built upon a design that was rather unique for its time. The Turkish conquest of Constantinople marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Hagia Sophia. Re-purposed by Mehmed II to be used as a mosque, its gold mosaics and frescoes were painted over with Islamic motifs and patterns. A few of these have since been uncovered, preserved for centuries beneath layers of plaster. The emperor also added minarets and added massive discs bearing Arabic calligraphy to the grand scheme. Secularized by President Kemal Atatürk and converted into a museum in 1935, the Hagia Sophia is an ode to both the Byzantine and Ottoman penchant for art and architecture.
Dubbed the “Blue Mosque” by Europeans because of its rich blue interior ceiling tiles in the Iznik tradition, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, with its six minarets and series of elegant domes, is a one of a kind. Built at the behest of Ahmet I between 1609 and 1616, the mosque was designed by the architect Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa, one of Mimar Sinan's most prominent students. Inside, the entrance illuminated by a wrought iron chandelier, gives way to the central prayer space, that evokes wonder with its intricate interiors adorned with thousands of tiles and filtered natural light from arched stained glass windows. The shrine near the mosque houses the tombs of Ahmet I and his wife Kosem Sultan. The Blue Mosque is a working mosque, so non-worshiping tourists are not permitted to enter during prayer times, which occur 5 times daily for 30 minutes each.
Once the outer garden of Topkapı Palace and meant only for the royal court, the Gülhane Park today is a popular and bustling local park, ideal for that lazy weekend picnic. It is considered to be one of the oldest public parks in Istanbul. Beautiful panoramic views over the Golden Horn and Sea of Marmara can be enjoyed from the Set Üstü Çay Bahçesi on the park's north-eastern edge.
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.
Established in 1993, the Iznik Foundation aims to revive the traditional art of Iznik, an early ceramic-ware technique. This has led the foundation to employ archaeologists and experts who excavate the sites of original Iznik kilns of the 15th and 16th Centuries. The foundation also tries to promote the ancient art by offering courses and research options to young students. Tourists can take a guided tour through the site of the old factory and ceramic workshops and even have the option of purchasing items at the showroom.
This is no ordinary gallery among a myriad of others in arty Istanbul; Artane has played host to works related to Hollywood's finest director David Lynch who was an abstract expressionist artist before making his foray into films. Artane is easily one of the most prestigious galleries in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul. A visit here promises to be unforgettable as you are bound to bump into some famous local artist or some splendid artwork.
Galeri Selvin was first founded in 1985 in Ankara by the enterprising Selvin Cuhruk Gafuroğlu who sought to spread art to a wider audience. This resulted in the opening of another gallery in Istanbul in 2006 which has paid off handsomely considering the patronage and support it receives from artists, collectors, students and enthusiasts at large. Having hosted well over 300 exhibitions till date, Selvin has succeeded in its goal of promoting local, national and foreign artists in Turkey. The artifacts on display here are unusual and off-beat to say the least.
The home stadium of Bakırköyspor, the Şenlikköy Stadı in Istanbul is the venue of many sports events; especially football matches. Named after a flower that is common to the Bakirköy district of Istanbul, the stadium has a capacity of 8000 people and is often full to the brim if the home team happens to have a match there.
The Fransız Kültür Merkezi Gösteri Salonu or the French Cultural Center Performance Hall holds various events related to French culture. They host various concerts and exhibitions relating to France such as performances by French musicians, etc.
Bayrampasa Minister of Justice had officially closed the prison giving way to newer prospects in its place. This was one of the biggest prisons in the vicinity. Considering the vast areas, many interesting art exhibitions are now conducted here. From detaining prisoners to conducting exhibitions, Bayrampaşa Cezaevi has sure come a long way.