The 4th Istanbul Design Biennale opens September 22 and seeks to generate new ways of thinking about education in the age of artificial intelligence and technology. This year’s theme is “A School of Schools.” Whether you are a history buff or foodie, there are many things to do in your spare time in Istanbul during the Biennialle. Here are our top 5 things to do in Istanbul.
The ruler Ahmed I built the Blue Mosque between the years 1606 and 1616. It’s one of the most famous attractions in Istanbul. The Mosque is still an active place of worship to this day. It also contains the tomb of Ahmed I, a madrasa, and hospice. The beauty of the Mosque is said to rival the nearby Hagia Sophia. It’s an impressive view with its six minarets and intricate tile work. Because it is a working mosque non-Muslim visitors are not permitted inside during the five daily prayer times but admission is free during non-prayer hours. Visitors should also be aware of the dress code which required conservative clothing and head coverings for women.
The Hagia Sophia was built in the year 529 and has served as a Greek Orthodox Christian Church, Catholic Cathedral, and an Ottoman Mosque. It is the 8th wonder of the world. It was also was the world’s largest building when constructed and held that title for 1000 years. Since 1935 it has been a government-run museum. The museum houses an immense collection of mosaics, frescoes, and artifacts from its storied history. It is one of the most visited museums in the world and well worth a visit during your time in Istanbul for Design Biennale.
The Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred underground water reservoirs in Stanbul built in the 6th century. The cistern provided filtered water to the Palace of Constantinople. It laid beneath a large basilica, thus earning its name. The cistern is over 100,000 square feet in size. It is supported by 336 marble columns, each a towering 30 feet tall. The site has been featured in many movies, from the 1963 James Bond hit From Russia with Love, to the 2016 adaptation of Dan Brown’s Inferno. When visiting, be sure to see the two Medusa sculptures repurposed as column bases in the northwest corner of the cistern.
The Bosphorus Strait is a natural straight connecting the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara. It separates the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. The Straight has a long history of strategic importance due to it being the only connection of the Black Sea to the Meditteranean. It is a very busy waterway with more ship passages than both the Suez Canal and Panama Canals. Experience the Straight with either a stroll across the Bosphorus Bridge or one of the many boat cruises available during your trip to Design Biennale.
Topkapı Palace served as the home to the sultans of the Ottoman empire as well as its administrative and educational headquarters. The enormous complex is now open to the public as a museum. The top attractions are the immense royal gardens and the Imperial Harem. Be sure to allow several hours to explore the palace grounds and exhibits, including ancient Christian and Islamic relics.
A trip to Istanbul for the Design Biennale is an incredible opportunity to explore this timeless city. From the ancient Greeks to modern times, this city has been a key player in history. For more amazing Turkish destinations you won’t want to miss, explore the Argos in Cappadocia Cave Hotel.