St. Sofia (Ayasofya): World’s biggest building for 1,000 years, built in 6th century as a church, return to a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul, now waiting for your visit as a museum.

Blue (Sultanahmet) Mosque: Tranquil place of worship by day, terrific sound and light shows by nights. Nick named because of its famous blue tiles from Iznik.

Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı ): Earth’s original shopping mall, with its more than 3,500 shop of hawk bags, shoes, carpets and gold.

Topkapı Palace: Home for Ottoman Sultans until late 18th century. You can visit the infamous Sultans Harem as well.

Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı): Watery underground cellar held up by Roman pillars, lost to civilization for several centuries.

Dolmabahçe Palace: European-style palace so palatial that it nearly bankrupted an empire. Contains world’s largest chandelier.

Galata Tower: Genoese bastion, fire lookout tower, launch pad for Ahmed Çelebi (the Istanbullu Icarus) and all-round panoramic viewpoint.

Off the beaten track

Church of St Stephen of the Bulgarians: Flat packed church that was floated down the Danube to Istanbul in the 1890s.

Rustem Paşa Mosque: Named after the Ottoman general brave enough to marry Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s daughter and lavishly decorated with Iznik tiles.

The Maiden’s Tower (Kız Kulesi): Ottoman tower bobbing in the Bosphorus, prison for “M” in Bond-flick The World Is Not Enough.

Rumeli Fortress (Rumeli Hisarı): Bosphorus castle walls built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452.