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The main squares of Istanbul: Taksim and Sultanahmet - the two hearts of the city

Among the variety of squares in Istanbul, two major and most important squares stand out - Taksim Square, which is a popular place among visitors to the city, and Sultanahmet Square (or Hippodrome), which is the historical heart of the city with an abundance of significant attractions.

Both squares are located in the European part of Istanbul, at a distance of 4.6 kilometers from each other.

Sultanahmet Square is located in Fatih district, and Taksim Square is located in Beyoğlu district. The districts are separated by the Golden Horn Bay, through which a two-level pedestrian transport bridge is thrown Galata Bridge with restaurants and observation decks on the lower tier.

Both squares are located on the main tourist routes in Istanbul. And the main significant sights of the city are concentrated on the squares themselves and around them, there are also an abundance of shops, restaurants and accommodation facilities (hotels, apartments) booking

Taksim Square

Taksim Square (Taksim Meydanı) is one of the major central squares of Istanbul, which is now the main transport hub of the city, as well as a walking area with some significant attractions.

The center of Taksim Square is decorated with an 11-meter figured monument of the Republic (Cumhuriyet Anıtı), designed by Italian architect Pietro Canonica and opened on August 8, 1928.

Also notable on the square is the Taksim Mosque (Taksim Camii), erected in 2017-2021, although the plan of the mosque on Taksim Square has been developed since 1952.

In addition, the area is surrounded by modern and historic (19th century) of a building, including cultural centre atatürk (Atatürk Kültür Merkezi), the 5-star The Marmara Taksim terrace with an outdoor pool, the 4-star hotel CVK Taksim Hotel Istanbul features a panoramic restaurant and the famous dessert café Hafiz Mustafa 1864 (1864 Hafız Mustafa Meydan) with delicious baklava and Turkish delight.

Taksim Gezi Park is adjacent to Taksim Square. More about Taksim Square...

The famous pedestrian and shopping street of Istanbul stretches from Taksim Square towards the Golden Horn - Istiklal (Independence, Istiklal Caddesi), along which the historic red tram runs. Learn more about Istiklal Street and the tram...

Sultanahmet Square

Sultanahmet Square is a historical square that is the heart of Istanbul and is part of the small district of the same name, where the main attractions of the city are concentrated, representing a magnificent ensemble.

The current Sultanahmet Square is located on the site of an ancient Hippodrome, the construction of which was started by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus in 203, when the city was still called Byzantium. Chariot races were held at the hippodrome. Therefore, the square has a second name - "Hippodrome Square" (At Meydanı).

The Sultanahmet Square is notable for:

- The Obelisk of Constantine (Konstantin Dikilitaşı, Öme Dikilitaş) is a Byzantine obelisk built of stone blocks, most likely by order of Emperor Constantine the Great;

- Snake Column (Yılanlı Sütun) - remains of an ancient Greek column that had three snake heads, now lost;

- Theodosius Obelisk or Egyptian Obelisk (Dikilitaş) is an ancient Egyptian obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III, brought from Luxor (Egypt) in 390 by order of Emperor Theodosius I and installed at the Hippodrome on a specially made marble pedestal;

- German fountain (Alman Çeşmesi) in neo-Byzantine style, created in Germany in 1898 and presented by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who visited Istanbul;

- Ibrahim Pasha Palace (Ibrahim Paşa Sarayı) is a monument of Ottoman architecture of the 16th century and the former residence of the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire Pargal Ibrahim Pasha. Today it is a museum of Turkish and Islamic art (Türk ve Islam Eserleri Müzesi);

- Republican Museum of Marmara University (Marmara Universitesi Cumhuriyet Muzesi), which consists of an art gallery, where short-term exhibitions are held, and the Ihapa Hulusi Gerey Gallery.

Around Sultanahmet Square are concentrated such significant attractions as:

- The Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii / Sultan Ahmet Camii) is a historical imperial mosque, which is the first mosque in Istanbul, and is also considered an outstanding example of Islamic and world architecture;

- Mausoleum of Ahmed I (Sultan Ahmet Türbesi) - the tomb where Sultan Ahmed I, his wife and children, as well as other representatives of the Ottoman dynasty rest;

- Arasta Bazaar (Arasta Çarşısı) is one of the oldest markets in Istanbul, which now consists of one small street near the Blue Mosque;

- Museum of mosaics of the Grand Palace (Büyük Saray Mozaikleri Müzesi) with collections of mosaics from the time of the Byzantine Empire, discovered on the site of the Grand Imperial Palace of Constantinople;

- Hagia Sophia or Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) is a mosque in Istanbul, which during its history has been an Orthodox church, mosque and museum. The mosque is one of the greatest world-famous monuments and examples of Byzantine culture, as well as a symbol of the "golden age" of Byzantium;

- Hammam Hürrem Sultan (Hürrem Sultan Hamamı) - historical Turkish baths built in the 16th century for the beloved and legendary wife of Suleiman the Magnificent - Roksolana;

- The Basilica cistern or Yerebatan cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) is one of the most famous, large and well-preserved underground reservoirs of Constantinople. Now a museum;

- The fountain of Ahmed III (III Ahmet Çeşmesi) is a large historical fountain located in a pavilion in the style of Ottoman rococo and looks like a richly decorated casket.

- Topkapi Palace (Topkapı Sarayı), which for 400 years served as the main residence of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the administrative and educational center of the state.

Today, the former Topkapi Palace is a museum and a magnificent architectural monument of the 15th-19th centuries. The Topkaps include: courtyards and the palace complex itself with an administrative part and a harem, as well as other buildings and panoramic terraces. Also in the complex is the Church of St. Irene;

- Gulhane Public Park (Gülhane Park) with historical objects, sculptures, fountains and museums, which was the former outer park of the Topkapi Palace. More about Sultanahmet Square and district with sights, photos and description...

Practical information

You can get to Taksim and Sultanahmet squares on foot from many points of the city center; by public transport; taxi or; and also by taking a tour on the Istanbul Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus (there are tickets for 1, 2 or 3 days).

Tickets for the Istanbul sightseeing bus can be purchased here →

All accommodation facilities in Istanbul, including in the historical center of the city and more remotely from it, can be viewed and booked here booking

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