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Istanbul is a very big city. For those who are going to visit Istanbul, it is necessary to work on Istanbul Tourist Attraction Maps. In this article, you can find the places to see in Istanbul on various maps and download them to your computer as a PDF files. You can also find the link to the Youtube Video of this post on the bottom lines.
In order to make it easier for you to understand, I have divided the touristic areas of Istanbul into three. The first section is the Istanbul Historical Peninsula Map (Old City) the second is the Beyoglu Map (aka Taksim), the third is the Asian Side Map (Kadikoy and Uskudar).
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Istanbul Tourist Attraction Maps PDF
I published the maps in low resolution on the page because it reduced the opening speed of the site. Please click on the links below to view the full resolution maps. When you click the links, you can download the Istanbul Tourist Attraction Maps as PDF files.
I am planning to review each map and mark the highlights in them. As these areas are the most popular and crowded areas to see in Istanbul, some local advice may help you save some time.
1. Map of Istanbul Old City (Historical Peninsula)
You can see the map of Istanbul Old City below. The Old City is referred to as the Historical Peninsula in some guidebooks. The heart of the Old City is Sultanahmet. However, there are many other places to see. You can find information about the tourist places marked on the map in the following subheadings.
Tourist Attractions in Old City (Sultanahmet and its surroundings)
Istanbul was founded by a group who migrated from Ancient Greece. The name of their leader was Byzas. They named the city after him and it was called as Byzantium. They settled to a place called Seraglio Point in the ancient history.
Today the Topkapi Palace is located on the site of the ancient city. As you can see from the map Topkapi Palace is covering a massive area. It’s one of the most popular museums of Istanbul. However it’s not the only museum in the complex.
Hagia Irene Church and the Istanbul Archaeology Museums are the two other museums that are located in Topkapi Palace Complex. If you want to see the Palace and its Harem only, it would probably take 3 hours. If you also want to see the additional two museums, you should consider that it will take much longer time.
Hagia Sophia is located just next to Topkapi Palace. It’s the most popular museum in Istanbul. On an average year 3 million people visit this place. It was built as a church during the Byzantine period, it became a mosque in the Ottoman period and it was converted into a museum in the Turkish Republic period. Most important Byzantine mosaics of Istanbul can be seen in the museum.
Blue Mosque is one of the most impressive works of Ottoman architecture. It was built in 17th Century. It represents the Classical Ottoman Architecture. The original name of the mosque is Sultanahmet Mosque. As the Mosque is decorated with blue tiles, visitors named this place as the Blue Mosque. The Mosque gave its name to the neighborhood as well. So that the whole area is called as Sultanahmet.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are definitely most popular places to see in the Old City. However, there are some other important places too. Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum is located right next to Blue Mosque. Historical items from the Caliphates, Seljuk Turks and Ottomans are displayed in there. The building was used as a palace for a long time during the Ottoman era.
Hippodrome of Constantinople was built for chariot races. During the Roman and Byzantine period, it was the major entertainment area in the city. The remnants of the Hippodrome is located in between the Blue Mosque and Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. Altough there is not much left from the Hippodrome, it’s still interesting to see the ancient Egyptian Obelisk and Serpent Column.
Great Palace Mosaic Museum
Great Palace Mosaic Museum may not be very interesting to some people. However, if you want to see the floor decorations of the once legendary Great Palace, I recommend you to see it. In order to go to the Great Palace Mosaic Museum, you need to go through the Arasta Bazaar, which is right next to the Blue Mosque.
Little Hagia Sophia Mosque
The Little Hagia Sophia Mosque, just like its name, is very similar to Hagia Sophia. It was actually a church built by Justinian, the most famous ruler of the Byzantine Empire. Dedicated to the early Christian martyrs, Sergius and Bacchus, the church was built even before Hagia Sophia.
It’s fun to get to the Grand Bazaar after visiting these historical places in Sultanahmet. The Grand Bazaar, consisting of 67 streets and 3000 shops, is a 500-year-old shopping center. After visiting the Grand Bazaar, you can go to the Spice Bazaar from the road I marked on the map.
Although the road is a little difficult for those who don’t know Istanbul, it may be interesting as it will take you from an old street called Mahmutpasha. Mahmutpasha Bazaar is a local market where many kinds of cheap clothes are sold. You can see many locals shopping like crazy there.
Spice Bazaar is 350 years old marketplace. It has a structure similar to the Grand Bazaar, but it is very small compared to that. You can buy spices, Turkish delight and souvenirs from the Spice Bazaar, which is also known as the Egyptian Bazaar.
Although the most visited mosque in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque, there is a bigger and nicer mosque. Suleymaniye Mosque, built for Sultan Suleiman, the most famous ruler of the Ottoman Empire, is located in the middle of the Historical Peninsula. Considered to be the most important work of Classical Ottoman Architecture, the mosque is 470 years old. You can see a magnificent view of Istanbul from the courtyard of the mosque.
Chora Church (Kariye Mosque)
Since the most important works of the Historic Peninsula are on the East side, the West side is generally neglected. However, there is a magnificent Byzantine church next to the historical land walls of Istanbul. The best preserved mosaics of Byzantine art can be seen in the Chora Church (Kariye Mosque). Although the oldest mosaics are in Hagia Sophia, those who form an integrity are in Chora. The mosaics describing the lives of Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ are marvelous.
Fener and Balat
Fener and Balat, which are located on the shore of the Golden Horn, have an increasing popularity in recent years. During the Ottoman period, the Greek people lived in the Fener and the Jewish people lived in Balat. Today, these two districts, which are full of trendy cafes, antique shops and art houses, are among the most iconic places in Istanbul.
Colorful houses in Fener and Balat neighborhoods have attracted the attention of photography enthusiasts in recent years. Fener’s Kiremit Street and Balat’s Merdivenli Yokus Street are suitable for taking such photos.
2. Map of Istanbul Beyoglu (Taksim, Galata, Karakoy)
Below you can see the map of Beyoglu district of Istanbul. Beyoglu is referred to as Taksim in many sources. However, touristic places such as Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata and Karakoy are the neighborhoods of Beyoglu district.
Tram T1 is the most practical vehicle to commute between Old City and Beyoglu. You can get the tram from Sultanahmet Tram Station to get to Galata Tower, Istiklal Street, Taksim Square and Dolmabahce Palace. These are the most important places to see in the Modern Istanbul.
Tourist Attractions in Beyoglu (Taksim and its surroundings)
Once you cross the historical Galata Bridge and leave the Historical Peninsula behind, you arrive to Karakoy. Karakoy is the district that reflects the 19th century, the last period of the Ottoman Empire. Many consulates and banks were opened in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire at that time. The resulting cosmopolitan structure can still be observed today.
The Historical Peninsula represents the Classical period of the Ottoman Empire, whereas Beyoglu and the Bosphorus represent the Modern period. For this reason, you feel like you are in a European city while visiting Karakoy, Galata and Istiklal Street.
The popularity of Karakoy has increased in recent years. With the construction of the new cruise port of Istanbul, Galataport, Karakoy became even more popular. For this reason, you can see stylish boutique hotels, restaurants and cafes in Karakoy.
Galata Tower is a building from the late Byzantine period. Genoese had a trade colony in Constantinople at that time. They had an autonomous area in the Galata neighborhood and they built this tower for security purposes. Today, Galata Tower is one of the symbolic structures of Istanbul.
Istanbul was once the place where goods from the Silk Road and Spice Road were collected. Goods coming from Asia through caravans were collected at the port of Constantinople and exported to Europe from there. Venetians and Genoese, the Italian colonies, managed this trade. When the Byzantine Empire became enemies with the Venetians after the Fourth Crusade, the Genoese got great privileges.
Today, the Galata Tower and its surrounding square attract people like magnets. You can take great photos and visit art galleries on the streets surrounding Galata Tower.
Istiklal Street is the most popular walking place in Istanbul. Local folk come here after leaving work in the evening. The street is packed with the people on the Friday nights as well as the weekend.
You can shop in Istiklal Street, visit historical places and enjoy the nightlife. The most famous Catholic Church in Istanbul, St. Anthony of Padua is also located on Istiklal Street.
In the early periods of the Ottoman Empire, the sultans lived in the Topkapi Palace in the Historical Peninsula. However, a new palace was built under the influence of westernization in the 19th century. The name of this palace, which has a European architecture, is Dolmabahce Palace.
If you come to Dolmabahce Palace from Sultanahmet, you can walk from Kabatas, the last stop of the tram. If you are staying around Taksim Square, you can go on foot.
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3. Map of Istanbul Asian Side
Unfortunately, I do not have a dedicated map of Istanbul Asian Side. But I find this high resolution map very detailed and fun. This map contains all the sights we have been talking about since the beginning of the post. However, since it’s in Turkish, it may be difficult to understand.
I am thinking of making a detailed video about places to visit in Istanbul and I will make the narration on this map. I will add the link of that video here so that you can get the most out of the map.
Tourist Attractions on the Asian Side of Istanbul
Kadikoy is the most popular touristic area on the Asian Side of Istanbul. You may get to Kadikoy from Old City or Taksim via ferry. It’s great pleasure to see the views of Bosphorus while going to Kadikoy.
You may discover the Kadikoy Fish Market, give a lunch break in the Ciya Restaurant and walk to Moda. Kadikoy’s Fish Market has always been so popular among the locals. So you can watch the flow of local life in Kadikoy. There are less tourists around comparing to Old City and Taksim areas.
After discovering the Fish Market and try the delicious local food in Ciya Restaurant, you can head to Moda Neighborhood which is famous for its trendy cafes and stylish shops.
Uskudar is the most historical area to visit on the Asian Side. You may see some old Ottoman Mosques and again lots of locals. Maiden’s Tower is the highlight of the Uskudar area. As the Tower is a historical monument from the Byzantine era, it’s really old.
There are places that are very pleasant to visit on the coastal road starting from Uskudar to the north. You can have a great time in Kuzguncuk, Beylerbeyi and Cengelkoy neighborhoods.
Istanbul Tourist Attraction Maps on Youtube
I recently published a video on Istanbul Tourist Attraction Maps on YouTube. Since I am not a videographer, I cannot say that it is technically a perfect video. But I am sure that you will get useful information if you watch it to the end. You can watch the video version of this article via this link.
Istanbul Tourist Map by Turkish Airlines
I wanted to add this tourist map published by Turkish Airlines as a bonus to the end of the article. Although it doesn’t show the exact location of the historical monuments, it will give you an idea because it is decorated with beautiful animations.
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Istanbul Tourist Attraction Maps by Serhat Engul