Explore the nearby attractions from our hotel

Discover local attractions in the area with our guide to what to visit to ensure a memorable stay with BH Conference & Airport Hotel, Istanbul. There's so much to see and do conveniently close to our welcoming accommodation. The old city center (Sultanahmet) is only 20 km and city center at Beşiktaş/Taksim is about 26 km from the hotel. You can nearby find CNR Expo Center, Istanbul Aviation Museum and a number of shopping malls including Mall of Istanbul. Find more points of interest below.

Hagia Sophia

When visiting Istanbul, one of the attractions you must see is the Hagia Sophia Museum. This centuries-old building was originally a church, later repurposed as a mosque, and is now a museum. Your first glance at this building is bound to awe you due to its scale, but be prepared to be more amazed once you step inside. This timeless beauty was designed to make your jaw drop.

An ancient museum

Also known as the Aya Sophia (Holy Wisdom), this structure offers up an architectural mix that is truly astounding. Once inside, you will find both Islamic and Christian elements in the details of the building. Its high arching ceilings and spacious interior will blow you away with their scale and beauty. Hagia Sophia's dome is still in the top list of largest domes of the world. In addition to the minute details covering every wall, this old church has intricate interior design pieces and a number of relics and objects on display, some dating back to the 5th century BC. Visit the tombs or early Ottoman sultans and view Viking graffiti in the southern gallery to get a feel for the centuries of history that have shaped this exceptional building. Don't miss out the upstairs galleries, to admire 11th-century to 13th-century golden mosaics of byzantine emperors and their respective wives.

A mammoth construction

The Hagia Sophia began with the original building in the 500s under the reign of Justinian. The emperor hired two architects to design and construct the building on top of a pagan temple, allowing them both to have 100 sub-architects working under them. Each of these, in turn, had 100 workers, meaning there were thousands of people involved. After a colossal construction period, the church was completed, and it served as a church for 916 years. Once Fatih Sultan Mehmed conquered Istanbul, the church was converted into a mosque which was used for 482 years, and in 1935 it was turned into the Hagia Sophia Museum by the first President of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. There's no better example of east-meet-west architectural influences in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia has always been a symbol of the buzzing city and inspired other famous buildings like The Blue Mosque and Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

Topkapı Palace Museum

The Topkapı Palace, a large palace on the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, served as the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for around 400 years. Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, it has been converted to a museum and is now a major tourist attraction and worth a visit.

The highlights

If you only have one day in Istanbul, the lush courtyards, colorful tulip gardens and sea views of Topkapı are a must-see. The Topkapı Palace, once the royal residence of numerous generations of Sultans, is a fine example of Ottoman architecture that at its peak contained bakeries, a mint, mosques, and a hospital within its walls. With a dedicated ticket and an escorted tour, you can visit the lavish harem where the sultan's wives lived in a complex of courtyards and intricately tiled rooms surrounding a Turkish bath. Did you know harem means "forbidden or sacred inviolable place" in Arabic?

Imperial collections

The palace contains many important holy relics from the Muslim world, including the cloak and sword of the Prophet Mohammed. During your visit, you can view a large collection of weapons, robes, shields, and armor that were used by the Ottomans and are now housed at the palace. The displays also include examples of Islamic calligraphic manuscripts, murals, and Ottoman miniatures, as well as other treasures and jewelry. Specific exhibitions include Chinese and Japanese porcelains, European porcelains, the Imperial Treasury, portraits of Sultans, and the pavilion of the Holy Mantle and Holy Relics.

Practical Information

The museum is open daily except Tuesdays and limited opening hours apply during the first day of religious festivals. To make your visit as educational as possible and to ensure you don't miss out on the fun details, collect an audio guide on arrival. There are several cafés and restaurants in the complex to stop at when hunger kicks in, and as you make your way through the palace, don't forget to browse the book and gift shops you pass along the way.

Grand Bazaar

Shop to your heart’s content at Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest covered markets. In the centuries-old alleyways, you will find everything from rare spices to rich fabrics.