Istanbul Highlights

Daily Program

Founded in the 13th century BC, Greeks, Romans and the Ottoman Turks left their traces of culture and architecture in Istanbul. Blue Mosque, probably one of the most famed masterpieces of Ottoman religious architecture, is your first stop among Istanbul’s monumental shrines of different faiths. Named after its Turquoise colored tiles made of quartz minerals, the building is also unique for its six minarets. Ottoman Sultans preferred to pray in this timeless shrine due to its incomparable prestige until when the empire collapsed after World War I. You will then stroll through the famed Hippodrome Square which was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople that hosted the chariot races until the Middle Ages. The Roman Hippodrome of the glorious past displays today the famous the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Serpentine Column dating back to 5th century BC. Conquered by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 AD, Constantinople was appointed as the new Capital of the flourishing Ottoman Empire. Settled on both the Asian and European shores of the Bosphorus connecting the Mediterranean to the Black Sea and maintaining a strategically important location on the ancient known world, Istanbul played a major role in the transformation of the Ottoman Kingdom into an empire that lasted for five centuries to follow. You will move on afterwards to the Basilica of Saint Sophia built by Justinian the Great during the 6th century. Adorned with rich mosaic murals, colossal columns and exposition of divine serenity, Saint Sophia is a true world heritage that has accommodated various faiths throughout different periods of history and is currently operated as a museum displaying Byzantine art and architecture embellished by Ottoman taste. The more you listen to the in-depth lectures of your private guide, the more you will comprehend the priorities the administrators of Constantinople had to execute to ensure that the city continues its existence in safety against external threats. As a city that was defended by “inaccessible” fortifications, Constantinople needed to have endless water supplies to enable its inhabitants to resist sieges. To serve this purpose, a large number of underground water reservoirs were built through various neighborhoods of the city such as the Underground Cistern known by the locals as the Sunken Cistern. The impressive structure built in the 6th century with 336 columns erected upwards underneath the streets running through the Old City to constitute ample space to store water, is now operating as a venue for cultural activities besides attracting visitors as a unique museum. Later in the afternoon, you will find yourself drifting through one of the earliest shopping malls ever built in history, Grand Bazaar which maintains its charm and volume of business to the modern day with its indoor and outdoor sections. Breathe in the vivacious atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar with a sip of Turkish coffee while checking the exciting variety of handcrafted souvenirs. Istanbul has been the center of commerce and trade between the Orient and the Occident even before the arrival of Ottomans. Nuru Osmaniye District (Glamour of the Ottomans) was where the Genoese and Venetian merchants had their ware houses to store their inventory of brass, copper and tiles before they were loaded on the ships to sail to Venice and Genoa. Today, Nuru Osmaniye District is where you can find the most reputable stores with wide collections of jewelry and antiques.

*This tour is not applicable on Mondays & Tuesdays & Sundays.

Notes

Rates Include:

- Professional English speaking lecturer/guide

- All transportation with luxury minivan with A/C and non-smoking

- All entrance and parking fees

 

Rates Exclude:

- Gratuities for guide and driver

- Personal expenses

 

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