Historical Peninsula Istanbul – Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

Here you’ll find a quick guide to explore Historical Peninsula with top things to do and see plus insider advice. The historical peninsula of Istanbul is now within the Fatih district.

Dating back to 685 B.C., and was the capital for many civilizations such as the Romans, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire for ages, the Historical Peninsula is the tourist area in Istanbul where all tourists head for most. The region is the old Istanbul inside the city walls with all the sightseeing heavyweights packed together with must-see mosques, museums, palaces and more.

Insider Advice: Kickstart your Istanbul adventure with the Istanbul E-Pass or Istanbul Tourist Pass. These passes provide free access to around 70+ top attractions, tours and essential local services in the city with around 70% savings.

Byzantine Period

Byzantion was the name of the city founded by the Megaran commander Byzas in 685 B.C. and Greeks were the first settlers here. During the expansion of the Roman Empire towards the Asia Minor, in 330, the Emperor Constantine declared the city as the capital and gave the city his name, Constantinople. In 395, the Roman Empire collapsed and the Eastern Roman Empire ruled, to be known as the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine Empire ruled the city until the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of Istanbul in 1453, by Fatih Sultan Mehmed.

The Byzantium period left Istanbul an immense cultural heritage with lots of sights such as the iconic Hagia Sophia, the Chora Church, the Pantocrator Monastery, Great Palace Mosaics Museum and the Church of Sts Sergius and Bacchus which can still be visited today. The Fener and Balat neighborhood also has rich Byzantine heritage.

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)
Historical Peninsula cartoon map during the Byzantine period

After the conquest of Istanbul, the city became the heart and impressive capital of the Ottoman Empire. And the city was embellished with variety of great landmarks and places such as beautiful mosques, palaces, fountains and mansions through the Historical Peninsula, as well as the shores of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. The Hagia Sophia converted into a mosque, and than into a museum.

The 15th century Fatih complex, Suleymaniye Mosque and Sehzade Mosque and the 17th century Blue Mosque are the beautiful examples of the Ottoman heritage, and of course, the Topkapi Palace, which is a grand complex that was home of the Sultan, and continually extended until the 19th century.

Districts and Neighborhoods

The Historical Peninsula of Istanbul was consisting of two districts, Fatih and Eminonu, but with the latest municipal regulations, Eminonu converted to a neighborhood and the Historical Peninsula declared as within the district of Fatih. The neighborhoods in the Historical Peninsula include; Aksaray, Beyazit, Eminonu, Fener, Haseki, Karagumruk, Kocamustafapasa, Kumkapi, Mahmutpasa, Sirkeci, Sultanahmet, Sehremini, Tahtakale and Vefa.

No Regrets Booking Advice

Fatih District

The Historical Peninsula, the Fatih district hosts the majority of the historical sites of Istanbul from the periods of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire that include beautiful palaces, churches, mosques, fountains, museums and more…

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)
Historical Peninsula (Fatih) Neighborhoods Map

Below, we gathered the popular neighborhoods and sights along the Historical Peninsula. Before you read them, we recommend you to check the neighborhoods map made by us, to make sure you map what’s on where…

Fatih District Center

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

Fatih district center is known for its beautiful Fatih Mosque and complex. Built in 1463 and named after the Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the conqueror of Istanbul, the complex houses hospice, medrese, hospital, caravanserai, library and baths. The Fevzi Pasa Street is the main street of the area. It was also serving as the main street during the Romans period. Popular historical sites in central Fatih include; the Millet Library, the famous Byzantine column named Kıztaşı (Maiden’s Stone and Hırka-ı Serif Mosque.

Eminonu and Sirkeci

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

The Eminonu and nearby Sirkeci are the two neighborhoods situated along the Golden Horn, on the shores down the Topkapi Palace. They are one of the most popular tourists areas in Istanbul, as well as the Istanbul’s important transportation hub. They offer great tourist attractions and facilities such as historic cafes, restaurants, as well as quality hotels.

The Ferry decks, Eminonu Square, the famous Egyptian Spice Bazaar, Yeni Mosque, historical Sirkeci Orient Express Train Station and the Gulhane Park are the popular sights in Eminonu and Sirkeci. Read more about Eminonu and Sirkeci, Sights and Attractions

We Highly Recommend These Fantastic Night-time Activities


Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

Majority of the popular sites of Istanbul are situated in Sultanahmet. It is the former heart of the Ottoman Empire. With the popular sights such as the such as the Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul Archaeology Museums and Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet is a natural magnet to millions of tourists in Istanbul also with its variety of souvenirs and carpets, restaurants and cafe, hotels and guest houses.

The relatively traffic free region makes it easy to explore around on foot and by tram. Read more about Sultanahmet, Sights and Attractions

from Divan Road to Beyazit

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

Divan Road, which means “Road to the Imperial Council”, is an ancient road where today the tram line operates between Sultanahmet Square and Beyazit Square and hosts variety of historical sites and architectural relics from the Ottoman, Roman and Byzantine periods, hotels, tourist shops, cafes and restaurants.


Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

Beyazit is a historic neighborhood located at the end of the Divan Road. The Beyazit square is also home to political and cultural events. The famous Grand Bazaar is the one of the most visited tourist sites in the region.

Other popular sights of interest include; the Beyazit Mosque, Nuruosmaniye Mosque, the Sahaflar Antique Books Market, the glorious Istanbul University building and the Beyazit Tower that is used to be a watch-out tower for fires in the city.

Laleli and Aksaray

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

Downwards from Beyazit, you’ll come up to the Laleli ve Aksaray neighborhoods. There are numerous touristic stores, markets, designer shops selling textile goods especially to the Russian and old Eastern Block countries, as well as many cafes, restaurants, hotels and pensions along the back streets.

The famous Koska Helvacisi is situated in the main road of Laleli. We recommend you to buy Turkish delight and halvah from there. Popular historical sights in Laleli include; the Laleli Mosque, The Big Stone Inn, the Bodrum Mosque (formerly Myrelaion Church), Valide Sultan Mosque, Church of Constantine Lips (Fenari Isa Mosque) and Murat Pasha Mosque.

Downwards from Laleli, you’ll come up to Aksaray, that was once the famous Bovis Forum, a square from the Byzantine period. Aksaray today is a transportation hub as hosts couple of historical sites, such as Sofular Hamam (Turkish bath) and various artisan restaurants offering delicious local food.

Suleymaniye Mosque Area

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

The spectacular Suleymaniye Mosque was built in honor of the magnificent Sultan Suleyman by the famous architect Sinan between the year 1550-1557. The decoration of the mosque is outstanding with colored tiles, stained glass windows and antique columns. And there is a Suleymaniye complex housing many historic places such as Mausoleums, Mosques, medreses (schools) and monuments.

Other points of interest in the region include; the beautiful botanical gardens near the Suleymaniye Mosque, the Burmali Mosque, the Sehzade Mosque that was built in between 1544-1548 for the memory of Mehmet, the son of Sultan Magnificent Suleiman, the Kalenderhane Mosque, which was a 12th century Byzantine church of Theotokas Kyriotissa and also allocated for the dervishes during the Ottoman era, the wooden houses around and the Suleymaniye Hamam (Turkish bath).

Fener and Balat

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

The former Greek neighborhood Fener and nearby the old Jewish quarter Balat, situated on the southern shore of Golden Horn, have very rich historical heritage. Did you know that Fener is the “Vatican of the Greek Orthodoxy”? Fener houses the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen, which is one of few prefabricated cast iron churches in the world.

The Greek Patriarchate is still mother-church for Greek Orthodox Christianity worldwide. The Greeks lived in Fener until the mid-20th century. Afterwards has been more resident by the poor immigrants from eastern Turkey. There is a UNESCO/EU project in the region to restore the many buildings together with Balat.

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

The Balat area also very rich with Byzantine heritage. Being an old Jewish quarter, it always have been a poor one than Fener. There are big number of Jewish population in Balat, so that you may find many synagogues and Jewish establishments, as well as some churches and mosques. Both Fener and Balat is popular with its touristic cafes, restaurants and antiques shops.

Insider Note: Regarding the tourist zones above, the below neighborhoods also has variety of historical sites worth a visit and see but on the other hand, they are not dedicated tourists only, they are residential areas with a huge population with the locals. You may find yourself inside the traffic jam, crowded city life and may feel exhausted.

Bozdogan (Valens) Aqueduct, Vefa Neighborhood

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

The Bozdogan Aqueduct, a kilometer long aqueduct that was built in 375 by the Roman Emperor Valen, forms a very beautiful prominent landscape of the region. It was used to carry water to the city. The Vefa district and Zeyrek along, is a residential area and home to some historic places such as Vefa Church Mosque and Ayin Biri (First of the Month) Church. Vefa is also famous for its Vefa Bozacisi (Katip Celebi Str. No:102), which has serving the drink named boza since 1876, made from fermented barley. It is a popular winter drink for locals.

In Zeyrek, you may see the famous monastic complex of Pantokrator, dating back to 1124 and consisting of two churches, a chapel, a mental hospital and a hospice for elderly men. The churches include; the Church of St Savior Pantocrator, and the Church of Virgin Elousa. The complex was also declared as the UNESCO Heritage Sites. After the conquest of Istanbul, the chapel was converted into a mosque and named as Zeybek Mosque. The Tiled Hamam is the other historic place of interest here.

Edirnekapi and Karagumruk

Historical Peninsula Istanbul - Fatih (Where? Top Attractions & Sights)

Edirnekapi is the neighborhood situated inside the city walls and also the gate where Fatih Sultan Mehmed entered the historical center on the conquest of Istanbul. There are some popular sights in the area that should be visited.

The Mihrimah Mosque, that was built by the famous architect Sinan, for the daughter of the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the Chora Museum, formerly church-mosque, which dates back to the 6th century and houses very beautiful examples of Byzantine mosaics and frescoes, the 1400 years old Byzantine Tekfur Palace and the Fethiye Museum, formerly church of the East Roman Empire, now serving as a museum and a small part as a mosque.

How to Get There

  • The Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line) covers the many neighborhoods in the Historical Peninsula. Public buses operates in between many regions of Istanbul to the last stop Beyazit.
  • You may take the tram to get around the most popular tourist zones from Eminonu to Sultanahmet, Beyazit and Aksaray. Metro line operates between Bagcilar and Aksaray. You may take the public ferries from the Asian side of Istanbul and get to Eminonu and from there you may take take trams.
  • From Taksim, you may take the Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line) from the Kabatas stop or the other stops along the Galata Bridge via the Taksim-Kabatas funicular (F1 line) or Tunel-Karakoy funicular (F2 line) from the end of the Istiklal Street.
  • Check the Istanbul Railway Network Map for the Tram stops and Istanbul Ferry Lines Map for ferries and make a route/station search from the Istanbul Municipality Public Buses website.

from Istanbul Airports

  • from New Istanbul Airport (45 km. to Sultanahmet and takes about 100 mins.) – you may take Havaist Airport Shuttle for 18 TL per person, or take a taxi for minimum 130 TL or take a Private Shuttle which is the best of all and we recommend.
  • from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport (45 km. to Sultanahmet and takes about 100 mins.) – you may take Havabus Airport Shuttle for 18 TL per person, or take a taxi for minimum 130 TL or take a Private Shuttle again which is the best of all and we recommend.

Historical Peninsula / Fatih Google Map

Share post:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Don't Miss Istanbul's Best Bosphorus Cruises

Autumn in Istanbul

45 Things to do this autumn in Istanbul 2023 to fall for

As the vibrant colors of summer gently fade away,...

13 Best Autumn day trips from Istanbul to fall for

Istanbul, with its vibrant energy and captivating history, is...

21 Rainy day activities in Istanbul beyond the drops

Istanbul is known for its stunning sunny days, but...

9 Cultural tips for Istanbul this Autumn

Istanbul in autumn is a cultural haven waiting to...

Don't Miss

Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque: Ayasofya 2023 Guide, Visiting Tips

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) can be considered as...

Topkapi Palace Museum (2023 Tickets with Guru Advice Guide)

Topkapi Palace, one of world's richest museums, can be...

Basilica Cistern Museum: 2023 Tickets with Visiting Tips

The Basilica Cistern ("Yerebatan" in Turkish, which means "sinking...

Galata Tower (2023 Master Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)

Galata Tower, topped with a distinctive witch's-hat roof, is...

Dolmabahce Palace Museum (2023 Tickets, Skip the Lines, Insider Guide)

Dolmabahce Palace Museum is a magnificent one situated in...

2023 Top 10 Istanbul Bosphorus Dinner Cruise with Entertainment

Here you'll find the comparisons and reviews of the...

Whirling Dervishes Show Istanbul (2023 Sema Guide with Tickets Advice)

Whirling Dervishes Ceremony or Show ("Sema" in Turkish) is...

Rhythm of the Dance Show (Turkish Dance) Istanbul: Tickets

The Rhythm of the Dance Show, also called as...

Best Turkish Baths & Hammams in Istanbul for 2023, Prices

Hammam, also called Turkish Bath, is a traditional bath...

15 Must do day trips from Istanbul in 2023

Istanbul, with its mesmerizing blend of history, culture, and...

Top Discount Cards

Istanbul Tourist Pass® Review: Is It Worth It? Insider Tips

The Istanbul Tourist Pass is one of the four...

Istanbul E-Pass (Worth It? How To’s? Fares, Insider Tips)

The Istanbul E-Pass is one of the four common...

Istanbul Best Attraction Tickets (Guide on Skip the Lines Buying Online)

Buy these the most visited attractions and sights in...

Medical Tourism

Hair Transplant in Turkey, Istanbul: 17 Best Clinics for 2023, Cost

Hair transplants are one of the most popular cosmetic...

Rhinoplasty in Turkey, Istanbul: 12 Best Surgeons for 2023, Cost

Rhinoplasty, also known as nose job, is one of...

Plastic Surgery in Turkey, Istanbul: Aesthetic Clinics, Doctors 2023

Cosmetic, aesthetic and plastic surgery have become one of...

Dental Treatment & Services Turkey, Istanbul: Best Clinics, Prices

Turkey has become one of the the favorite hubspot...

Botox & Fillers in Turkey, Istanbul: Best Clinics 2023, Prices

Here you can read out all the necessary information...

Related Reading

Explore Cankurtaran, Kumkapi, Yenikapi and Samatya

The coast road in the historical peninsula from Cankurtaran...

Explore Eminonu & Sirkeci (2023 Guide with Top Things to Do & See)

Eminonu and neighboring Sirkeci are also one of the...

Explore Fener & Balat (Top Things to Do, Sights, Where & How to Get?)

The former Greek neighborhood Fener and nearby the old Jewish quarter Balat,...

A clever way to explore Istanbul !!!

Get your pass to the city of Istanbul

Get free access to 100+ top attractions, tours and essential local services with Istanbul Tourist Pass® with over 80% savings. Starting from just €90!

Istanbul Tourist Pass® is a digital sightseeing pass, and upon you order, you will receive an instant confirmation mail and be able to use the Pass right away or store the details saved in your mail to use when you arrive in Istanbul.