With the conquest of Istanbul, Prophet Muhammad (sal) said: “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!”
This hadith was completed by Sultan Mehmed II A.K.A Muhammad Al-Faateh (Fatih Sultan Mehmet) who was the leader (Khalif) at the time.
Istanbul, historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, is the largest and most populous city in Turkey. It is the main hub of the country’s economy, culture, and history. This ancient and remarkable city is a common point of connection between the Asian and European continents.
This ‘dream city’ also has many viewing terraces where you can experience the magnificent architectural and historic places of the city. Here’s a list of 8 awesome places to head to where you can take in Istanbul’s beauty.
1) Camlica Hill (Büyük Çamlıca Tepesi / Büyük Çamlıca Hill)
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Büyük Çamlıca Hill is situated along the Anatolian side of Istanbul and offers a 340-degree view of the city. It is one of the top places to spend some quality time with friends and family and enjoy the natural beauty that the city of Istanbul has to offer. There are plenty of restaurants and mosques for Muslim visitors, and a big park that is ideal for relaxing or having a picnic.
Some of the places that can be seen from the hill are Galata, Boğaziçi Bridge, Rumelihisarı, Kandilli, Topkapı Palace, Sultanahment Mosque (Blue Mosque) and the historic Haydarpaşa Train Station. You can take a bus from Kadiköy and Üsküdar to get there, or you can use a private car to drive there.
2) Ulus Park (Ulus Parkı)
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With streets full of luxury apartments and high-end boutiques, Ulus is one of the most expensive neighborhoods of the city. Lucky for you, you do not have to spend millions to experience this side of city, thanks to Ulus Park. Also situated in the Anatolian side of the city, Ulus Park offers amazing views of its surroundings as well as many cafes and restaurants. They might be a bit on the pricier side, but a visit to this park is definitely worth it even if all you do is lounge around and relax!
To get to the park, you can take the bus from Beşiktaş. Or if you feel like talking a walk, you can also reach it from the coastal line.
3) Kalafat Area and Suleymaniye Mosque (Kalafat Yeri ve Süleymaniye Camii)
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Süleymaniye Mosque is one of the most famous landmarks of the city. It is located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, and is the second largest mosque in the city. Built during the Ottoman period, it is a majestic sight of architecture and décor, and a place where people can experience the history and modernity of the city coming together. The beauty of the Galata and Beyoğlu can also be observed from the gardens of the Süleymaniye Mosque.
You can get to the Süleymaniye Mosque by taking the tram or metro; or you can choose to drive. But be careful about the traffic, because the area around the mosque frequently experiences congestions and roadblocks.
4) Nakkas Hill (Nakkaş Tepe Kuzguncuk)
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Nakkas Hill is located in the historic Kuzguncuk neighborhood of the Üsküdar district, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. It is one of the highest points of the city, and is a great place to view the Anatolian side of the city. Çırağan Palace, Yıldız Park, Feriye and Ortaköy Mosque are just a few of the places that be seen in perfect view from Nakkas Hill. The hill is also famous for its many high-end and luxury restaurants that are situated around it. Nakkas Hill is also easily reachable from Uskudar.
5) Pierre Loti Hill (Pierre Loti Tepesi Eyüp)
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Pierre Loti Hill is a famous teahouse located in Eyup, district of Fatih on the European side of Bosphrous, Istanbul. The delicious authentic tea is not the only reason that makes it so amazing. Pierre Loti also boasts breathtaking views of the city, including a picture-perfect view of the Golden horn from Eyup to Eminonu. There is no better place for tea with a view like Pierre Loti, which is why you’ll never want to leave!
A short distance away is the Eyup Mosque, surrounded by cafes and a calm environment. You can reach Pierre Loti Hill via cable car which departs from near the Eyüp Mosque.
6) Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi)
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The Galata Tower, built during the expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople, is located in the Galata/Karaköy quarter of Istanbul, a mere walking distance from the Şişhane. This iconic cone-shaped medieval tower was a place where security could watch the entire city, as it was the highest tower at the time it was built.
Today, the tower is open for visitors. Sightseers flock to this magnificent monument day and night alike, which is why you’ll find a line waiting to enter the tower whenever you visit. You can also spend some time at Cafe Gundogdu, a nearby teahouse. There are also quite a few other good cafes and restaurants in and around the tower which give you plenty of options to choose from. You can get to the tower by taking the tram, metro, or a bus from Taksim or Eminonu. There is also car park which is open 24 hours a day, if you are planning on driving.
7) Otağtepe Beykoz
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Otağtepe is very famous and crowded hill located at Beykoz (Anatolia). Locals and tourists alike flock to this place for its photo-worthy views that can be seen from the terrace. You can also take a stroll through the beautiful park, or stop at one of the many cafes around the hill for a bit of resting time and a quick meal. You can reach Otağtepe through bus if you’re coming from Uskudar, Kadikoy or Levent. Or if you choose to take a car, then going through the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is your best option.
8) Rumeli Hisarüstü and Nafi Baba Hill (Rumeli Hisarüstü ve Nafi Baba Tepesi)
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Located near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge is one the most famous castles in the city: Rumeli Hisarı. It offers a magnificent panoramic view of the city of Istanbul, which is truly a sight to behold. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants around the hill and the Nafi Baba Mosque, where you can head to enjoy delicious food when all that sightseeing will inevitably leave you famished!
Bonus: South Campus of the Bogazici University (Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Güney Kampüsü)
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This famous campus is located at the Rumeli Hisarüstü, and has rich and longstanding history. It is home to one of Turkey’s best universities, and millions of students from all around the country apply to be a part of this unique university and experience its magnificent environment every year.
Not only is this campus famous among the locals, but it has also been visited by many Hollywood elites. The most recent visit was by Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen Albert), who was very impressed by the view, environment and culture of the university.