Istanbul had served as the capital city of four empires in history dating back to almost 2,700 years. Including modern Turkey's architectural samples, Istanbul carries significant architectural entities such as mosques, synagogues, churches, palaces, towers and skyscrapers  representing various chronological layers. Today, its possible to visit arhitectural samples which came from ancient Greek, Byzantine, Genoese and Ottomanperiod besides modern ones.

Serpentine column, Maidens tower and column of Constantine are highlights from ancient Greek and Roman period. City walls, Haghia Sophia, Haghia Irene and Galata Tower are still standing against time from Byzantine and Genoese period dating back more than 1500 years.

Ottoman structures were spread all over today's Istanbul, starting with Anadolu Fortress on the Asian side of the Bosphorus in 1394 and Rumeli Fortress at the opposite (European) shore, in 1452, a year before the conquest of Constinopole. After conquest, countless mosques, palaces, fountains were build by Ottomans in 700 years where churches were converted into mosques in a respectful manner to an other religion. Today, this can be easily observed at Haghia Sophia, where all icons inside are in very good condition. Most significant  structures were build by Sinan during this period, a world famous engineer and architect who was borned in 1490. In his career, he build hundreds of mosques, aqueducts, caravansaries, palaces and mansions where his major works are Sehzade Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque and Selimiye Mosque in Edirne. Although huge structures were made of stone, Ottoman public houses were built of ornate wood. Today, most significant samples can be seen on bosphorus bank, seafront mansions are the most expensive real estate properties in todays Istanbul. In the last decade of empire, Ottomans are influenced from European architecture and in 18th and 19th century, Neoclassical, Baroque,  Rococo and Art Nouveau structures were build. Today, famous Istiklal street in Beyoglu reflects this period very well.

Today, Kanyon Shopping Center, Sapphire -tallest building of Istanbul offering an observation deck- are most significant samples of modern architecture in Istanbul.