Eminönü/Sultanahmet Travel Guide
Atop a drab tourist hotel across from the Four Seasons is an insider's secret: a rooftop terrace with an unobstructed panorama of the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and the Sea of Marmara. The drinks menu is nothing to write home about: Keep it simple with an Efes Pilsen beer.
The sheer number of carpet stores in Istanbul, particularly in the Sultanahmet area, can be overwhelming, but Noah’s Ark has an excellent reputation for honesty, quality, and a willingness to educate customers without pressuring them (much) to buy.
Better known as the Blue Mosque—for the 20,000 blue tiles that line its domed ceiling—this 17th-century architectural masterpiece is Turkey’s crown jewel.
Also known as the Egyptian or Gypsy Bazaar, this covered market’s main attraction isn’t, sadly, the eponymous spices (no, that’s not real saffron at an unbelievably low price—it’s safflower, which isn’t the same thing at all).
The greatest surviving example of Byzantine architecture and one of the eight wonders of the world, Hagia Sophia reigned as the greatest church in Christendom from the fourth century to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
Though it served as the royal residence and seat of the Ottoman Empire for nearly four centuries, this palace isn’t the mighty pleasure dome that many visitors expect.
One of the great achievements of Ottoman imperial architecture (it was built by the legendary Ottoman architect Sinan), this stunning 16th-century mosque complex encompasses a hospital, primary school, caravansary, four Koran schools, a medical college, a public kitchen, and the mausoleum that co