The Historical Peninsula, a great portion of which is located within the precincts of the Fatih district, boasts many historical landmarks worth seeing. When you delve into the depths of history, you’ll find that the foundations of many empires were laid here with many civilizations cherishing dreams of owning the place for centuries. So, what historical landmarks are there on the Historical Peninsula that survived into our time? In this article, we will tell you about the places you should definitely see on the peninsula. Here are the mesmerizing buildings on the Historical Peninsula!
1. Topkapı Palace
Topkapı Palace ranks first among the landmarks you should see in Istanbul. Built in 1459, the palace which sultans and their families called home has mansions, chambers, sets and flower gardens. Topkapı Palace, which is known to have been built on an area of 700,000 m2, still retains its glory and welcomes visitors from across the globe.
2. Hagia Sophia
Among the treasured buildings on the Historical Peninsula is Hagia Sophia. Commissioned by the Emperor Justinian, it is considered one of the most important architectural structures in the world. The Hagia Sophia, which took 10,000 workers and 100 craftsmen to build, was designed by two of the most important architects of the period. It is currently used as a museum that is open to visitors.
3. Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is one of the most remarkable places on the Historical Peninsula. Located near the Sultanahmet Square, it is one of the largest cisterns in Istanbul. Today, it is open to visitors as a museum and a must-see place.
4. Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)
The Sultanahmet Mosque, the most distinctive landmark on the Sultanahmet Square, is located directly opposite Hagia Sophia. Although it bears structural resemblances to Hagia Sophia, it was actually built about a thousand years after Hagia Sophia. Built by the Architect Sedefkar Mehmed Agha at the request of Ahmed the First, the mosque is also called the Blue Mosque for the colorful İznik tiles used in its construction.
5. Museum of Turkish and Islamic Works of Art
The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Works of Art, one of the most remarkable structures on the Sultanahmet Square, is actually the palace of the famous Ottoman grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha from Parga. Today, the palace serves as the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Works of Art which contains many important artworks.
6. Hagia Irene Church
Hagia Irene Church, the oldest church in Istanbul, is located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace. It was commissioned by Emperor Constantine in the 330s. Even though it was destroyed so many times throughout the course of history due to rebellions and rebuilt, it took its final shape with modern renovation works. Currently functioning as a museum, the church is also home to a number of events and activities.
7. Istanbul Archeology Museum
One of the most important museums in the world, Istanbul Archeology Museum is also one of the most exquisite specimens of neoclassical architecture. Currently serving as a museum, it was built in 1891. In the museum there are hundreds of artifacts belonging to various civilizations that existed within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire.
8. Süleymaniye Mosque
Another landmark located on the Historical Peninsula that you should definitely see is the Süleymaniye Mosque. This important landmark, which Sinan the Architect described as his work as a journeyman, became the most beautiful social complex fit for the royalty when it was finished in the 16th century. The mosque also contains the graves of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hurrem Sultan.
9. Valens Aqueduct
The Vefa district, which is located within the precincts of Fatih on the Historical Peninsula, is built on a hill. And that is where the Valens Aqueduct is located. Although Istanbul is surrounded by seas, it has often suffered from water shortages throughout its history. So, many aqueducts were built during the Ottoman Empire to carry water to the city. The Valens Aqueduct continues to add value to the historical texture of the city today.
10. Binbirdirek Cistern
Another must-see landmark on the Historical Peninsula is the Binbirdirek Cistern. According to Byzantine sources, the cistern was built in the 4th century and is the second largest cistern in Istanbul. The cistern, which has 224 columns and a total size of 3,584 square meters, currently serves as a museum where various events are held.
These articles may also be of interest to you:
The History of the Grand Bazaar
The History of Istanbul Archaeological Museums
Travel Guide for the First Timers to Istanbul