Historical Peninsula in Istanbul
The greatest things to do and see, as well as insider tips, are listed in this fast guide to the Historical Peninsula. Currently, the Fatih district includes the ancient Istanbul peninsula.
The Historical Peninsula is the tourist area in Istanbul where most visitors go. It has a history dating back to 685 B.C. and has long been the capital of numerous civilizations, including the Romans, Byzantine Empire, and Ottoman Empire. A must-see mosque, museum, palace, and more are all congregated in this area, which is the old Istanbul inside the city walls.
Greeks were the first immigrants of the city, known as Byzantion, which was established in 685 B.C. by the Megaran general Byzas. Emperor Constantine designated the city as the capital and gave it his name, Constantinople, in 330, during the Roman Empire's advance into Asia Minor. The Eastern Roman Empire, later known as the Byzantine Empire, took over after the Roman Empire was destroyed in 395. Up until Fatih Sultan Mehmed's capture of Istanbul in 1453, the city was under the sovereignty of the Byzantine Empire.
The Byzantium period left Istanbul with a vast cultural heritage, including many sites that are still open to visitors today, including the famed Hagia Sophia, the Chora Church, the Pantocrator Monastery, the Great Palace Mosaics Museum, and the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus. Additionally rich in Byzantine history is the Fener and Balat area.
Istanbul was the center and stunning capital of the Ottoman Empire once it was conquered. The Historical Peninsula, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn coasts, as well as lovely mosques, palaces, fountains, and mansions, all adorned the city with a range of magnificent features and locations. Hagia Sophia was first transformed into a mosque and then a museum.
Beautiful examples of Ottoman legacy include the 15th-century Fatih complex, the Suleymaniye and Sehzade Mosques, the 17th-century Blue Mosque, and, of course, the Topkapi Palace, a vast structure that served as the Sultan's residence and was continuously expanded until the 19th century.
Districts and Neighborhoods
The Historical Peninsula of Istanbul used to be divided into the districts of Fatih and Eminonu, but the most recent municipal ordinances changed Eminonu's status to that of a neighborhood and designated the Historical Peninsula to be part of Fatih. Aksaray, Beyazit, Eminonu, Fener, Haseki, Karagumruk, Kocamustafapasa, Kumkapi, Mahmutpasa, Sirkeci, Sultanahmet, Sehremini, Tahtakale, and Vefa are some of the neighborhoods of the Historical Peninsula.
The majority of Istanbul's historical landmarks, which span the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras and feature stunning palaces, churches, mosques, fountains, museums, and more, are located in the Fatih district's Historical Peninsula.
The well-liked areas and attractions on the Historical Peninsula are listed below. We advise you to examine the neighborhood map we created before reading them to make sure you understand what is on where.
Fatih District Center
The stunning Fatih Mosque and complex is a landmark in the Fatih district center. The complex, which was constructed in 1463 and was given the Fatih Sultan Mehmed name after the conqueror of Istanbul, includes a hospice, medrese, hospital, caravanserai, library, and baths. The area's principal thoroughfare is Fevzi Pasa Street. During the Roman era, it also served as the main street. The Millet Library, the well-known Byzantine column known as Kztaş (Maiden's Stone), and the Hrka-Serif Mosque are some of the most visited historical sites in central Fatih.
Eminonu and Sirkeci
The two districts around the Golden Horn, on the shores of the Topkapi Palace, are the Eminonu and the close-by Sirkeci. They are a key transportation hub and one of Istanbul's most well-liked tourist destinations. They provide excellent visitor attractions and amenities, including upscale hotels and restaurants as well as storied cafes.
The prominent attractions of Eminonu and Sirkeci include the ferry docks, Eminonu Square, the renowned Egyptian Spice Bazaar, Yeni Mosque, the ancient Sirkeci Orient Express Train Station, and the Gulhane Park.
Sultanahmet is where the majority of Istanbul's tourist attractions are located. The Ottoman Empire's former geographic center was there. The Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul Archaeology Museums, and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts are just a few of the well-known sites in Sultanahmet, which also attracts millions of tourists to Istanbul with its array of shops selling mementos and carpets, eateries, hotels, and guesthouses.
It is simple to get around on foot and by tram in this area because of the low level of traffic.
From Divan Road to Beyazit
The tram route between Sultanahmet Square and Beyazit Square runs along the historic Divan Road, also known as the "Road to the Imperial Council," which is also home to a number of historical attractions, buildings from the Ottoman, Roman, and Byzantine eras, hotels, tourist shops, cafes, and restaurants.
At the end of Divan Road is a historic neighborhood known as Beyazit. Events related to politics and culture are also held in the Beyazit square. One of the top tourist destinations in the area is the renowned Grand Bazaar.
The Beyazit Mosque, Nuruosmaniye Mosque, the Sahaflar Antique Books Market, the magnificent Istanbul University structure, and the Beyazit Tower, which served as the city's fire watch tower, are a few more well-known points of interest.
Laleli and Aksaray
From Beyazit, head downhill until you reach the Laleli ve Aksaray neighborhoods. Along the side streets, there are many tourist attractions, markets, designer shops that sell textiles, particularly to Russia and the former Eastern Bloc nations, as well as a large number of cafes, restaurants, hotels, and pensions.
The well-known Koska Helvacisi is located on Laleli's main thoroughfare. We advise you to purchase halvah and Turkish delight from there. The Laleli Mosque, The Big Stone Inn, the Bodrum Mosque (originally Myrelaion Church), the Valide Sultan Mosque, the Church of Constantine Lips (Fenari Isa Mosque), and the Murat Pasha Mosque are some of the most well-known historical sites in Laleli.
From Laleli, head downward until you reach Aksaray, which was once the renowned Bovis Forum, a Byzantine-era square. Today, Aksaray serves as a transit center and is home to a number of historical landmarks, including the Sofular Hamam (Turkish bath), as well as numerous artisan eateries serving delectable regional cuisine.
Suleymaniye Mosque Area
The majestic Suleymaniye Mosque was constructed between the years 1550 and 1557 by the renowned architect Sinan in tribute to the glorious Sultan Suleyman. The mosque is beautifully decorated with colorful tiles, stained glass windows, and old-fashioned columns. Additionally, the Suleymaniye complex contains a number of historic sites, including monuments, mausoleums, mosques, and medreses (schools).
Other attractions in the area include the Burmali Mosque, the Sehzade Mosque, which was constructed between 1544 and 1548 in memory of Mehmet, the son of Sultan Magnificent Suleiman, the Kalenderhane Mosque, which was originally a 12th-century Byzantine church of Theotokas Kyriotissa and used for dervishes during the Ottoman era, the beautiful botanical gardens close to the Suleymaniye Mosque, the wooden houses (Turkish bath).
Fener and Balat
On the southern coast of Golden Horn, the old Greek district Fener and the adjoining old Jewish neighborhood Balat both have a highly rich historical past. Fener is known as the "Vatican of Greek Orthodoxy," did you know that? The Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen, one of the few prefabricated cast iron churches in the world, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople are both located in Fener.
The Greek Patriarchate continues to serve as the mother church for all Greek Orthodox Christians. Till the middle of the 20th century, Greeks resided in Fener. After it, poor immigration from eastern Turkey became more prevalent. A joint UNESCO/EU initiative to rehabilitate the several buildings in the area with Balat is underway.
The Byzantine heritage is also very strong in the Balat region. It has always been less wealthy than Fener because it is an older Jewish neighborhood. There are significant number of Jewish population in Balat, so that you may discover several synagogues and Jewish establishments, as well as some churches and mosques. With their tourist-friendly cafes, restaurants, and antique stores, Fener and Balat are both well-known.
Bozdogan (Valens) Aqueduct, Vefa Neighborhood
The Bozdogan Aqueduct, a kilometer-long aqueduct constructed by the Roman Emperor Valen in 375, contributes significantly to the area's stunning distinctive environment. Water was delivered to the city using it. Vefa Church Mosque and Ayin Biri (First of the Month) Church are two historic buildings located in the residential Zeyrek and Vefa districts. Vefa is renowned for its Vefa Bozacisi (Katip Celebi Str. No:102), which has been providing the fermented barley-based beverage known as boza since 1876. For locals, it is a well-liked winter beverage.
You can visit the well-known Pantokrator monastery complex in Zeyrek, which dates back to 1124 and includes two churches, a chapel, a mental hospital, and a hospice for aged men. The churches include the Church of Virgin Elousa and the Church of St. Savior Pantocrator. Additionally, the complex was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The chapel was transformed into a mosque and given the name Zeybek Mosque after Istanbul had been conquered. The other important historical location nearby is the Tiled Hamam.
Edirnekapi and Karagumruk
When Fatih Sultan Mehmed conquered Istanbul, he entered the historical center through the gate in Edirnekapi, a neighborhood inside the city walls. There are some well-known attractions nearby that you should see.
The Mihrimah Mosque, designed by renowned architect Sinan as a tribute to Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent's daughter, the Chora Museum, a former church-mosque that dates back to the 6th century and features stunning Byzantine mosaics and frescoes, the Byzantine Tekfur Palace that is over 1400 years old, and the Fethiye Museum, a former church of the East Roman Empire that now serves as a museum with a small portion functioning as a mosque, are all worth visiting on the Historical Peninsula.
The Historical Peninsula of Istanbul is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the rich history and culture of this ancient city. From the iconic Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque to the stunning Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar, there is no shortage of things to see and do on the Historical Peninsula. Whether you are interested in exploring the city's rich history or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling area, the Historical Peninsula is an essential stop on any visit to Istanbul. So if you find yourself in the city, make sure to take the time to explore this fascinating and historic part of Istanbul.