fun things to do with kids in istanbul   Travel for Kids
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Istanbul

Kids in the bazaar Istanbul
Visiting Istanbul, kids will be wowed by the opulent Topkapi Palace, great churches and mosques, ancient city walls, and colorful bazaars. Continuously inhabited for 3,000 years, Istanbul is a unique city, both for its geography and cultural history that spans both Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam, and a diversity of people. In 330 AD, Constantine founded Constantinople, the Christian capital of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. Though almost continually besieged by attackers, the city remained independent until 1453, when the Ottoman Turks successfully invaded and Istanbul became capital of the Islamic sultans.
    Sultanahmet – Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque
    Seraglio Point – Topkapi Palace
    Bazaar Quarter Eminonu
    Beyoglu
    Yedikule – City Walls
      Surrounded on three sides by water, huge walls across the peninsula completed the city defenses. In the 5th century AD, under the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II, four miles of city walls were built, stretching from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. The fortifications were a series of stone towers, connected with a line of inner and outer walls, and a moat. From the towers, the defenders could catapult their favorite weapon at the attackers, the famous “Greek fire.”
    These walls held for a thousand years, as Constantinople was besieged by Attila the Hun, Arabs, Russians, Seljuk Turks and Crusaders, until 1453. The Ottoman Turks, led by Mehmet the Conquerer, bombarded the walls with enormous cannons until the walls were breached, and the invaders poured into the city.
    The best place to see the city walls is Yedikule, at the southern end of the walls. (Take the train and get off at Yedikule.) Designated as the Yedikule Museum, “the Castle of Seven Towers,” has a Byzantine gateway with two towers, and five more towers added by the Ottomans. Kids will have fun exploring the walls and towers, and deciding whether they want to be an attacker or defender.
    Miniaturk Park (Carsamba) – Miniaturk is a miniature city with models from Istanbul and all over Turkey – the Aya Sophia (Hagia Sophia), Suleyman Mosque, Galata Tower, famous tombs, minarets, synagogues, monasteries, castles, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Halicaranassus, etc. Click here for more info.
   

Fun food

     

Two snacks kids will want to try are simit, a kind of giant pretzel with sesame, and Turkish Delights candy (lokum), flavored with rosewater, lemon, cinnamon or mint.

   

Shopping

     

You can fill up your luggage with souvenirs from Istanbul, especially turbans, colorful beaded boxes, Turkish slippers, and a visit to the Grand Bazaar is fun for everyone in the family.

family travel tools istanbul

A super way to get to know Istanbul is to ride around the city in a hop on – hop off bus. There's 6 stops around the city, including Aya Sofya and Taksim Square, and the the bus goes the length of the old city walls. Tickets are valid for 24 hours and you can board the double-decker bus anywhere on the route:

Istanbul Hop On Hop Off Bus
kids books istanbul
     
Mosque istanbul kids books  
Mosque
David Macaulay

How a typical 16th century mosque in Istanbul was built – from the foundations, to the walls of the prayer hall, and eight huge piers supporting a great dome, topped with a bronze crescent. The mosque complex also included a school for religious education, public kitchen, baths and fountains, a tomb, and minaret for call to prayer. (Picture book)

 

     
Islam (Eyewitness Books)
Caroline Stone

Before you visit the mosques of Istanbul, check out this excellent introduction to Islam – the prophet Muhammad, Ottoman caliphs and sultans, society and culture, festivals and ceremonies. Rich, detailed illustrations. (Picture book)

 

 
Islam (Eyewitness Books)
     
The Emperor's Winding Sheet kids adventure istanbul
 
The Emperor's Winding Sheet
Jill Paton Walsh

Gripping novel of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. A shipwrecked English boy, attached to the court of Constantine XI, watches as the city is bombarded by the sultan's fiercesome cannons and the emperor of Byzantium makes his last stand. (Chapter book)

 

     
Anna of Byzantium
Tracy Barrett

12th century, Constantinople. Anna is a brilliant scholar, the daughter of the emperor, and heir to the throne. But when her father dies, Anna’s willful younger brother becomes the new emperor, and her life is in danger. Based on historical events, the Byzantine empire is vividly brought to life. (Chapter book)

 

 
Anna of Byzantium istanbul constantinople kids books
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