10 Remarkable Ottoman Sights of Turkey – Explore Them!

One of the most important things about Turkey is its great historical background. In the area, there had been thousands of historically significant events. While it is not possible to witness them all today, the traces can be observed in the form of landmarks and sights. 

When Turkey’s historical background is mentioned, the influence of the Ottoman Empire cannot be overlooked. Ottoman Empire ended in 1922, and Turkey officially became a republic in 1923. Even though the country went through significant changes after this incident, the landmarks are preserved, and today, they are the physical evidence of what was going on back then. 

Quite different from today’s modern world, Ottoman Empire sights are pretty authentic and one-of-a-kind. Since Istanbul served as a center for many things in the Ottoman Empire, a significant proportion of the Ottoman sights took place there. However, there are various sights from Ottoman Empire all around the country. 

Today on this list, I will be sharing the top 10 Ottoman sights in Turkey and what their significance is.

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque is one of the most famous sights of Istanbul, both in general terms and Ottoman sights category. Indeed, the purpose of the Blue Mosque’s construction was to show how powerful and special Ottoman Empire was to the rest of the world. 

When the Blue Mosque was decided to build, it was on the centennial of Suleiman the Magnificent’s reign, and the Ottoman Empire was going through its brightest period, ruling in three different continents. Both Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque were built to crown this power the empire holds. 

The original name of the mosque is “Sultanahmet.” The name “Blue Mosque” is a simile first used by foreigners and tourists. This name was used because the interior design of Blue Mosque includes blue-colored tiles in the ceiling, giving the whole mosque a blue color. As time passed, the mosque started to be known as Blue Mosque, and today foreigners refer to it as such. 

One of the most appreciated characteristics of Blue Mosque is its architectural properties that combine traditional Islamic arts, Ottoman architectural traces, and a few Byzantine characters. Today, millions of tourists visit Blue Mosque annually. 

Selimiye Mosque

Selimiye Mosque is known to be one of the greatest Ottoman architecture achievements in the whole world, and of course, in Turkey. The mosque was designed by Mimar Sinan (Mimar means architect), who is the greatest architect of the Ottoman Empire. Mimar Sinan himself refers to Selimiye Mosque as his masterpiece, among all the other designs he has. 

Moreover, Selimiye Mosque was officially announced as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2011. The mosque is a part of a big complex and was built in one of the brightest periods of the Ottoman Empire. It was back then when the empire started to gain its power and crowned this start with the Selimiye Mosque.

Located in Edirne, Selimiye Mosque is one of the most important attractions of the city, if already not the most important one. In the big complex, Selimiye Mosque takes place, many social and educational institutions such as a clock house, Islamic schools (those schools are named madrassas), a covered market, a library, and an outer courtyard.

The mosque is known to be a construction that dominates the sky and is filled with Iznik tiles in the interior area. The form and design of Selimiye Mosque are unique, which is one of the reasons why people who visit it are amazed by it. 

Dolmabahçe Palace

Dolmabahçe Palace takes place in one of the most favorite locations of Istanbul, Beşiktaş. The palace is located by the sea, which offers a comprehensive Bosphorus view. Dolmabahçe Palace is also known as the “last house of the Ottoman Empire” because it was built while the empire was collapsing. In fact, the Ottoman Empire was referred to as “the sick man of Europe” by foreign countries. 

Even though the empire was collapsing, Dolmabahçe Palace is one of the most significant landmarks from the Ottoman period. The palace has 258 rooms in total and two separate areas for women and men. Dolmabahçe Palace is often described as the symbol of Westernization in the Ottoman Empire, which can give some hints about the architectural design. 

Besides the palace itself, Dolmabahçe’s garden is a landmark by itself. The garden occupies a large area and a giant fountain. Today, millions of tourists who visit Istanbul do not leave without seeing Dolmabahçe Palace.

Topkapı Palace

Another remarkable palace in the heart of Istanbul, and a very important Ottoman sight, is Topkapı Palace. Just like Selimiye Mosque, Topkapı Palace is a part of a big complex. Back then, Topkapı Palace was the most important building the Ottoman Empire ever had; it was a center for everything.

The complex Topkapı Palace is located in an area of approximately 700.000 square meters. Located in between Golden Horn and Bosphorus, Topkapı Palace is an important component of Istanbul’s famous figure. 

After the Republic of Turkey was officially formed, the palace became a museum, and today, it hosts millions of tourists who want to learn more about the Ottoman history and see an architectural masterpiece. 

Rustem Pasha Caravanserai 

Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai is located in Erzurum. It was built by Rüstem Pasha, who was the vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent, and the person who gave the caravanserai its name. The place was being used as a resting point for travelers to meet every need they might have. Hence, the caravanserai includes every option a traveler might need, such as resting and eating places and places to keep animals. 

Besides its functional significance, Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai is a great illustration of Ottoman architecture in general. In other words, Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai is a perfect example of what a good caravanserai looks like in Ottoman architecture. 

Süleymaniye Mosque

Süleymaniye Mosque is another Ottoman Mosque located in the historical peninsula Fatih, Istanbul. The most outstanding feature of the Süleymaniye Mosque is that it has uneven minarets; no other mosque in the world had it. 

One of the designers of Süleymaniye Mosque was Mimar Sinan, who measured the optimal light intake and built it accordingly. Moreover, Mimar Sinan also minded the acoustic of the mosque and designed one of the most remarkable acoustic properties a building can have. 

Beylerbeyi Palace

On the Asian side of Istanbul, Beylerbeyi Palace is another Ottoman sight. The name “Beylerbeyi” literally translates into “lord of the lords.” Beylerbeyi Palace was being used as summer accommodation for Ottoman sultans, some sort of a summerhouse.

After Empress Eugénie of France visited the palace, he was so impressed by it that it took a copy of the windows to be able to make the same one in his country. The palace is located by the Bosphorus, offering an outstanding view. 

Grand Bazaar

Besides all the mosques and palaces, Grand Bazaar is one of the most significant Ottoman pieces regarding the architectural properties and the general atmosphere there. Back then, Grand Bazaar was the biggest and most important shopping center in the entire empire. In fact, it was one of the biggest shopping centers in the world. 

Today, Grand Bazaar is as important as it was hundreds of years ago. It is still actively used, and there are hundreds of shops selling stuff, including but not limited to Turkish carpets, rugs, natural herbs and spices, gold, silver, jewelry, and clothing. Many people prefer Grand Bazaar for shopping purposes, and as a sightseeing activity in general. 

Green Tomb

Green Tomb is an Ottoman tomb located in Bursa. It was built by Mehmet Çelebi, the son of Yıldırım Bayezit. The tomb is a part of a big complex named “Green Complex.” The tomb is known as the symbol of the Bursa. Forty days after the construction of Green Tomb, Mehmet Çelebi suddenly dies and never gets to enjoy the building he made. 

An interesting point about the tomb is that it looks like it’s single-floored, but in fact, it has two floors. Outer and inner walls are filled with Iznik tiles, and the tiles there are known for being the best Iznik tiles out there.  Moreover, it is the only Ottoman tomb example with tiles. The famous traveler of the Ottoman Empire, Evliya Çelebi, was mentioned Green Tomb in his book.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was first built as a church, then transformed into a mosque, then transformed into a museum, and then transformed into a mosque once again. When it was first built, it was the biggest church made in Istanbul by Eastern Rome Empire. The church served as a significant center for important events until the empire collapsed. 

As Fatih the Conqueror conquered Istanbul, the church transformed into a mosque and served to Ottoman Empire for many more years. It is known that a different architectural style was used in Hagia Sophia in comparison to other constructions at that time. 

Hagia Sophia is another significant component in Istanbul’s figure and is visited by millions of tourists each year. Until today, the importance of Hagia Sophia has not decreased.  

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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