The luxurious Dolmabahce Palace was built in 1856 by Sultan Abdulmejid I, who decided to move his imperial court from Topkapi Palace to a lavish new dwelling on the shores of the Bosphorus. It was subsequently used by the last six Ottoman sultans as their primary residence and administrative seat. No effort was spared designing Turkey’s largest palace, which is lavishly decorated with gold and crystal. Don’t miss the famous Crystal Staircase, built in the shape of a double horseshoe. The largest crystal chandelier in the world, weighing a massive four tonnes, also hangs in this very palace – a gift from England’s Queen Victoria. Fun fact: All clocks in the palace are turned to 9.05am, the time of death of former leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who adopted the palace as his presidential home.
Standing at a height of 67m, Galata Tower is one of the best places in Istanbul for panoramic views. It was likely first built in the 6th century to spot fires; thereafter, it was repurposed as a jail and then turned into a visitor attraction in the 1960s. Galata Tower also played a key role in what was supposedly the world’s first ever intercontinental flight. In 1638, Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi donned a pair of artificial wings and leapt from the top of the tower, successfully crossing the Bosphorus and landing in the Asian side of Istanbul.
A 15-minute ferry ride across the Bosphorus will take you to the Asian (and largely residential) side of Istanbul. One of the area’s top attractions is the historic Kadikoy Produce Market, where you’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, fish, cheese and more. Open every Tuesday and Friday since 1969, it’s a local favourite thanks to its reasonable prices, and is undoubtedly one of the must-visit markets in the world for foodies.
The market has moved locations several times, but is currently back at its original site in Hasanpasa. From Kadikoy ferry station, take a 20-minute metro ride to Unalan station. Thereafter, it’s a 10 to 15-minute walk to the market.