Istanbul is one of the most interesting places to visit in Europe. With one foot in Asia and the other in Europe, this historic city in Turkey, Istanbul is full of ancient sites that are just waiting to be discovered.
The grand Hagia Sophia is the top place to visit for many tourists, due to its particularly interesting history. This colossal building is now a busy museum after first being built as a church and later used as a mosque. The current building was constructed on the site of two earlier monumental buildings after been conceived by Emperor Justinian.
After the city was conquered by Sultan Mehmed in 1453, the church was converted to become the first Imperial mosque in Istanbul. The building began its new life as a museum in 1935 when the plaster was carefully removed from the mosaics and the structure began to be carefully restored.
From the outside the enormous, asymmetrical building looks like a jumble of extensions and domes of various sizes. These additions are mainly structural reinforcements and alterations, which were added over time to sustain and rebuild this ambitious edifice through earthquakes, fires and riots. Inside, the structure is far grander, with a tremendous square nave which is topped by a large glittering dome and is surrounded by spectacular domed alcoves.
Be sure to climb the ramps to the upper galleries and you’ll be able to gain a new perspective over the main hall and get a closer look at the intricate Byzantine mosaics once you’ve admired the grand scale of the architecture and the detailed mosaic designs from the ground floor.
Using public transport in the city is relatively easy. Many multi-lingual machines are available, offering tokens for the trams, trains and buses. As well as connecting the city with the international airport, the wide network strings together the different districts.