The Byzantine and Ottoman empires may be long gone, but they left behind some truly striking monuments : churches, mosques, and palaces that stil hold the power to take your breath away.
As a former capital of both empires, Istanbul has the lion’s share of Turkey’s most famous structures, but there are also impressive ones to be found in every other part of the country. Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia in Istanbul) is the monumental church built by the emperor Justinian some 1,500 years ago continues to be an even more awe-inspiring site arguably the most impressive one in Istanbul or Turkey, The Kariye Museum, in what was the Kariye Cami, is much smaller and not as famous as the Aya Sofya, but this 12th-century Byzantine church, located on the periphery of Istanbul’s old city, is filled with glittering mosaics and stunning frescoes that are considered among the finest in the world.
Topkapi Palace, the former home of the Ottoman sultans, is sumptuous palace with stately buildings, tranquil gardens, and the must-see Harem. Also in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque: with its cascading domes and shimmering tiles, this exquisite mosque is one of the Ottomans’ finest creations.
Edirne, not far from Istanbul, was the Ottoman capital before Istanbul. It’s home to Selimiye Cami, the mosque that was the real masterpiece of the sultans’ favorite architect, Mimar Sinan. It’s massive dome has made many a jaw drop.
In Turkey’s far east, near the legendary Mt. Ararat, is Ishak Paşa Palace, an 18th century palace that seems like it was transported straight out of a fairy tale.