Sultanahmet comprises the historic core of old Istanbul and is home to many of the city’s most iconic sights. It’s here that you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, as well as the lavishly decorated rooms of the Topkapı Palace.
Things to do in Sultanahmet
One of Sultanahmet’s most famous landmarks is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, which was constructed in the early 17th century during the rule of Ahmed I. It houses his tomb and is adorned with hand-painted blue tiles, resulting in its nickname, the “Blue Mosque”. Gaze up at the six minarets that soar above its five domes, then step inside to experience its majestic interior.
Adjacent to the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sophia, which was once the largest Christian church in the Byzantine Empire. After the Fall of Constantinople, it was converted into a mosque and is now open to the public as a museum. See its centuries-old frescoes and the sultan tombs, which are exquisitely decorated with Iznik tiles. Not to miss is the “Weeping Column”, which is said to have been blessed by St. Gregory the Miracle Worker.
Once serving as the main residence of the Ottoman sultans, Topkapı Palace is a sprawling museum where Islamic relics, antique weaponry and majestic rugs are on display. Join a guided tour to visit the Harem and the State Treasury, get up close to the belongings of Prophet Mohammed and soak up the spectacular views across the Bosphorus from the Fourth Court.
Getting around Sultanahmet
Sultanhamet is around 45 minutes’ drive from Istanbul Airport and can be accessed by train to the Marmaray Sirkeci İstasyonu railway station. Subway services connect to the nearby Vezneciler metro station and trams travel to the Sultanhamet tram stop, which is within walking distance of most attractions.