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Sultanahmet Square and District in Istanbul

Sultanahmet Square is the central and busiest square in Istanbul. It’s always crowded here. It is located on the coast of the Bosphorus Canal and Golden Horn Bay. At this site in Constantinople was a hippodrome where horse races were held. Now this part of the city, marked on the map as the Sultanahmet district, is famous for its famous sights and museum complexes, preserved since ancient times. All travelers who come to Istanbul want to visit it.

Sultanahmet is the oldest district of Istanbul, which is the best place to start exploring the city. Visiting the area, you can see the ancient monuments, learn a lot of interesting things about the past life of the Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman peoples, to appreciate their contribution to the development of history.

Former Constantinople

Sultanahmet Square and District in Istanbul

The Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great, on the shores of the Bosphorus, an important trade route, built the city, which later was named Constantinople in his honor. Constantine wanted to turn the city into a center for the Christian faith. The city was built many palaces, churches, most of which were later destroyed by the Turkish invaders. After the conquest of Byzantium, on the remains of sacked Constantinople, the Turks built their own city, which was named Istanbul.

Some of Constantinople’s historic buildings have been preserved in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul.

Sultanahmet sights

Special attention tourists are attracted by the preserved monuments of ancient Byzantium.

Remains of ancient Byzantium

Before the start of the tour, you can examine the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul on a map and mark objects of interest to visit. These can be historic structures built under Emperor Constantine.


Horse racing was popular with the Byzantines. To this end, a hippodrome was built in the center of Constantinople. It was built so that one part of it was connected to the imperial palace by a large lodge. The hippodrome accommodated more than 40,000 people. He was the center of social and sporting life in the city. There were festive ceremonies and chariot races. The Turks, who conquered the city, used the square more for public events, showing no interest in the direct purpose of the hippodrome, so part of the structures were destroyed and looted. Now the site is Sultanahmet Square and square, where on the south side are the remains of the walls and grandstands of the hippodrome.

St. Sophia Cathedral

Sultanahmet Sights in IstanbulIt is a symbol of Christian Byzantium, built during the reign of Emperor Constantine next to the emperor’s palace. The cathedral building is crowned by a giant dome system, which was an architectural innovation of the time.

Outwardly, Ayia Sophia looks monumental, but it is striking how beautifully the architects created its inner lightness, creating the impression of soaring over the church of a huge dome. Inside the building are marble columns decorated with acanthus capitals. The colorful mosaics of the Virgin Mary seated on the throne and Jesus Christ with the emperor kneeling before him have been preserved.

The cathedral, which can be easily found on a map of the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, is always full of visitors, so it is better to visit it in the morning.

Grand Imperial Palace

The palace has long been the residence of emperors in Byzantium. Numerous halls, including the throne room with its golden mechanized throne, reception rooms, treasuries, churches and chapels, are all elaborately decorated with marble with Byzantine mosaics, the oldest to be seen in Istanbul. It is noteworthy that the floor of the palace is lined with mosaics depicting numerous scenes involving people and animals. In the palace is a museum of mosaics.

Cistern Basilica

Sultanahmet district in Istanbul

In Istanbul, an underground water reservoir created by the Byzantines was found during restoration work in the Sultanahmet district. It is not the only one in the city, but the largest is the Basilica Cistern. This structure with four-meter walls of brick, resembling a hall with columns, stored a supply of water for the needs of the city, which was transferred by pipeline from the forest area, where its collection was organized. It has now been drained, restored and used as a museum.

Church of Saints Sergius and Vakhk

In Byzantine times, this church was part of the imperial palace complex. The architecture of the building and the preserved columns with capitals, on which the arches supporting the dome rest, remind of the former greatness of the Christian temple. In the passages between the floors you can see the ancient frescoes.

It is currently the only church in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district that has not been converted into a mosque.

Egyptian Obelisk

The Egyptian Obelisk in the Sultanahmet district

It is a monolith of pink granite quadrangular in shape. It was brought from the Karnak Temple in Egypt to decorate the new capital. During transportation, it split in two. One of them, weighing almost 300 kg and 20 meters high, was installed at the racetrack. The obelisk is well preserved, despite its respectable age.

The Legacy of the Conquerors of Byzantium

After conquering Constantinople, the Turks plundered and destroyed Christian sanctuaries, but created monuments of their own that enriched the history of modern Turkey. They are located in Istanbul on Sultanahmet Square.

Blue Mosque

Sultanahmet Square - Blue MosqueIt is the greatest monument of the Ottoman Empire. It was built in the early 17th century, but is still in operation. Its attractiveness is emphasized not only by the walls, lined with blue handmade ceramic tiles, but also by the interior decoration and magnificent paintings. The Blue Mosque has six minarets, which are more than 60 meters high. There is no fee to visit the mosque, everyone can enter here from morning until sunset.

Sultan Ahmed III Fountain

The fountain is a decoration of Sultanahmet Square. The fountain was built in the 1820s in front of the Imperial Gates of Topkapi Palace. It is a small square building finished in marble and tile, with five domes and walls decorated with bas-reliefs and floral patterns. On all sides in the walls of the fountain are niches, which are built in taps for drinking water. Each wall has a metal plate affixed to it, on which verses honoring the water are embossed.

This fountain was once the only source of clean drinking water in the city, where they even handed out free cups of water and sherbet from the emperor.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace in Istanbul on Sultanahmet Square

It was the Sultan’s place of residence and work for many years. Occupies a large area, where in addition to the palace, there are household and residential buildings. One of the buildings housed the sultan’s harem, where his wives and concubines lived. The palace was surrounded on all sides by walls and had an underground exit to the sea. It is now a working museum, where you can see the emperor’s belongings, several thrones and trophies captured during the capture of Byzantium.

Parade Pavilion

The pavilion is built into the wall of the Topkapi Palace and resembles a tower with a sharp spire and bars on the windows. From here the sultans of the empire and their entourage watched the parades and military processions. After restoration, the structure looks as it did many years ago. Many books, works of art and antique furniture are kept here.

Carpet Museum

Turks consider themselves carpet inventors, so they have a carpet museum in the Blue Mosque, where you can admire their intricate patterns. Here you can see both large, rare Ottoman rugs from different periods of the Ottoman Empire and small prayer rugs.

How to get to Sultanahmet

The map of Istanbul highlights the Sultanahmet district and shows the main interchanges of subway lines, tramways, and bus routes.

Sultanahmet Square can be reached from the airport by metro, express streetcar, or bus. The station and Sultanahmet Square are connected by a railway branch line with an electric train.

Tourist reviews of a visit to Sultanahmet

Istanbul is visited by many tourists from around the world. They admire the beauty, cleanliness and neatness of the city, the availability of a large number of comfortable hotels, restaurants and cafes with the best prices, good transport interchanges. It is noted that it is easy to find interesting historical monuments of the Sultanahmet district in Istanbul, having a map of the city, and in its absence will always come to the aid of the hospitable inhabitants of the city.

Amazing Turkey is always ready to receive guests, offer informative excursions, amazing unique climate, endless hospitality and Sultanahmet Square.

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