Discover the wonders of Istanbul, the capital of 4 empires

If we could consult a library of the history of places in the world, we would discover that Istanbul has a book of many pages. Capital of 4 empires, for centuries it has experienced various stages of splendor and today it is one of the most beautiful cities. We are going to show you what are the wonders of Istanbul and why you should plan a trip here. Let’s start!

Istanbul, the capital of 4 empires

Napoleon Bonaparte once said that if the Earth were a state, Istanbul would be its capital.. He was referring precisely to the historical importance of the city, for having been the capital of 4 empires of great dominion on the continent. Istanbul is the most popular city in Turkey for a reason, despite not being its capital (Ankara).

Blue Mosque – Olena Z

The history of Istanbul dates back to the period of Ancient Greece, specifically, in the year 667 BC, when the city of Byzantium was founded. For centuries, it was a terrain of dispute between the Greeks, Persians and Alexander the Great’s Macedonians.

The disputes ended when Byzantium became part of the Eastern Roman Empire, after a conquest of the Celts. It happened around the second century BC and, with the passing of the centuries, Byzantium changed its name to Constantinople in honor of Emperor Constantine. In four centuries the city had already been one of the most important enclaves of two great empires.

However, the footsteps of the city would not stop here. In 1453 the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople. Both the city and Turkey were places of great strategic importance, a border between two continents: Asia and Mediterranean Europe.


The city was the Ottoman capital from the beginning of the Middle Ages until the last century. Already in the year 1923, after the proclamation of Turkey as a republic, the capital moved to Ankara.

The wonders of istanbul in pictures

As you have seen, the city has survived numerous periods of war. But it is also true that despite the turns of history, many of the wonders of Istanbul have arrived in perfect condition to this day.

Precisely, Istanbul is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world for its artistic value. For this reason, the historic areas of the city were declared a World Heritage Site. But what wonders of Istanbul are we referring to?

1. The Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque – Krissanapong Wongsawarng

The Blue Mosque is the most important mosque in the city. It was built by Sultan Ahmed I in the early 17th century and is considered one of the great wonders of Istanbul.

It has six minarets and its dimensions are greater than those of Hagia Sophia. For a time, the minarets created controversy in the citizens, since Mecca also had six. However, a few years later the seventh was built in Mecca to make a difference.

Get ready to marvel at the bluish tiles that cover its interior and the bath of light and color provided by its stained glass windows. Of course, remember that you are in a place of worship. That is, wear appropriate clothing and clothing to cover your hair and shoulders in the case of women. You will also have to take off your shoes when you enter.

2. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia by Anna Jedynak

The origins of Hagia Sophia, a basilica transformed into a mosque, take us back to the time of the Roman Empire. It was built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian. For many years it was the main symbol of the city. In fact, it was the Pope’s church during the 13th century.

However, with the arrival of the Turks it was transformed into a mosque and today it is another of the wonders of Istanbul that you must visit. It is also covered with tiles and wonderful Byzantine mosaics that, in this case, tell stories of Christianity. And above all, enjoy the views of the Blue Mosque from here.

3. The Basilica Cistern

It is a water tank that served to supply the city in case of receiving attacks from enemies. It could store up to 100,000 m³ of water. Again, Emperor Justinian had it built during the 6th century.

Basilica Cistern – Luciano Mortula – LGM

Currently, it is one of the largest cisterns in the city. Its name comes from the fact that it is located under the structure of an old basilica that is not preserved. However, it is also known as the “Sunken Palace”.

At first glance it may not seem as spectacular as what we have seen so far, but walking through this place with its darkness, its lights and its background music will give you goosebumps. Can you imagine what the city would be like centuries ago?

Finally, a curiosity: On two columns there are two blocks carved with the face of Medusa, a Greek goddess capable of turning humans to stone just by looking at them. Historians don’t know why they were placed there, though they think it was done intentionally by reusing structures from elsewhere.

This is a wonderful city. Y there are other wonders of Istanbul that you must visit, mainly mosques and palaces, legacy of the Ottoman Empire. The decision is in your hand. How about? Are you ready for a trip to the center of history? Go ahead and visit Istanbul!

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