Chora Museum (Kariye Müzesi)#10 in Best Things To Do in Istanbul
Originally built as a Byzantine church, later converted to a mosque and now serving as a secular museum, the Chora Museum is definitely deserving of a visit. There, you'll find a series of beautiful mosaics and frescoes that many consider some of the best surviving examples of Byzantine art in the world.
Although this museum does not sit within walking distance of other top attractions, many previous visitors said its stunning artwork is worth the trek. However, some noted that a large chunk of the property is currently closed for renovations, while others suggest paying extra for a guide since historical information is not provided inside. Guides are available by the museum's entrance.
This former church is located in Fatih's Edirnekapi neighborhood. Tram, metro and train service is not offered in the immediate area, but you can reach the museum by bus or ferry. The building is open every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; hours may vary by season. Tickets cost 15 Turkish lira ($4) per person, but if you have a Museum Pass Istanbul card, you can visit for free. Restrooms and a gift shop are available inside. Learn more about the Chora Museum on the property's website.
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#1 Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)
Sultan Ahmed I was determined to build a mosque that rivaled the nearby Hagia Sophia, and most would agree that he accomplished this task – or, at least, came close. Since the early 1600s, the Blue Mosque has been quite the sight to behold, with an array of domes, semidomes and minarets (or narrow towers). It's also one of the biggest tourist draws in Istanbul.
Visitors say this mosque offers "stunning architecture inside and out." It can, however, get busy, so consider arriving early. And remember, the Blue Mosque is an active religious site, so dress conservatively. Women should wear headscarves, as is custom. If you forgot to bring one, you can borrow one from the mosque.
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