Byzantine and Ottoman Heritage Regular Tour
TOUR INFO AND ITINERARY
This is a full day walking city tour starting from your hotel by pick up at 08.30 am and ending by dropping you off to your hotel at about 17.00pm. At the start, we will collect you from your hotel by bus and drive you to the meeting point at downtown Sultanahmet. There, you will meet with your government-licensed professional tour guide who will company and guide you throughout the excursion. The guide will tell you all the history and importance of the monuments in detail. Having a guide also brings you other benefits. For example, you will realize in situ that in front of every major museum, there are long queues. But, there is no need to panic; when you are under the umbrella of a tour guide, you do not have to wait in long queues. You will forge ahead hassle-free and the guide will get you in rapidly. That will save you a lot of time. Licensed guides and his/her group of people are allowed to get in without waiting in long queues. During the tour, you will visit Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and Obelisks, Süleymaniye Mosque, Topkapı Palace, and Grand Bazaar. There will be a lunch break before Suleymaniye Mosque. You will also be given free time at Grand Bazaar for shopping. Your guide will help you with some bargaining games which is part of the shopping in Turkey. Finally, you will be transferred to your hotel by bus.
All in all, this will be a cultural tour of "Sultanahmet Downtown", the heart of the "Old City" from where the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires were ruled. You will be mesmerized by the grandeur of those empires that left their traces in İstanbul. At the end of the tour, you will have a great collection of pictures and videos. Below, you can find a short summary of the places you will be visiting during the tour.
Hagia Sophia, once described as the greatest church in Christendom, is certainly a masterpiece with a synthesis of the Occident and the Orient. Built by Constantine the Great in 325 on the remains of a pagan temple. Rebuilt by Justinian and Theodora. In 1453, Mehmet the Conqueror added minarets to the huge, soaring dome and turned the former church into a mosque. The building controversially became a museum in 1935, but the interior retains its religious ramifications with the Christian mosaics and Muslim calligraphic disks adorning its walls and piers. For the time being, it serves as a mosque again.
Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque, this breathtaking building is one of the most majestic Ottoman mosques in all of Turkey. The Blue Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616, by the architect Mehmet Ağa, instructed by Sultan Ahmed I. It was designed as an imperial show of strength to complement the imposing Hagia Sophia, which faces it across Sultanahmet Square. Unlike the Hagia Sophia, it is supported by four 'elephant foot' pillars, and the central dome is flanked by four semi-domes, making it nearly a square in shape. It is dubbed the Blue Mosque because of over 20,000 handmade ceramic Iznik tiles that decorate the interior, featuring many different tulips, rose, carnation, and lily designs, well lit by 260 windows. Aside from its staggering size and exquisite beauty, one of the most distinctive elements of this Istanbul mosque is that it has six minarets, as opposed to the usual two or four of most of the city’s mosques.
Hippodrome, a public park used in the days of the Byzantine Empire for ceremonies and sporting events (chariot races, athletics). Theodosius Obelisk, Serpentine Column, Column of Constantine, and German Fountain of Wilhelm II are the monuments decorating Hippodrome.
Süleymaniye Mosque, the truly staggering size of the Süleymaniye Camii (Suleymaniye Mosque) is one of its most distinctive features – built by the legendary architect, Mimar Sinan, it is known as one of his masterpieces, and his largest design. It is not just the awe-inspiring size that is impressive (the central dome stands 47m high), but also the elegantly decorated interior. The sense of space and light is emphasized in the supporting semi-domes to the northwest and southeast and the monumental arched spaces to the southwest and northeast.
Grand Bazaar, is the oldest and biggest closed bazaar in the world. It was founded in 1461. Like an enormous labyrinth, it is a spectacular and unique part of Istanbul with 17 doors, 60 streets, and over 3000 stores. The Grand Bazaar offers a wide range of products from copper to glazed tiles, from marriage articles to ready wear, and from various handicrafts to all types of spice. Western writers often mention the Grand Bazaar in their memories and travel journals and it is seen in some movies like James Bond.
Topkapı Palace, which had been the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire that ruled three continents for centuries, was constructed between the years of 1460 and 1478 during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II (The Conqueror). It was home to the sultans and their families until the reign of Sultan Abdülmecit. Therefore, it has a very rich collection of porcelains, robes, weapons, shields, armors, miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts as well as Ottoman treasures and jewelry.
Closed: Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays. Therefore, you can join this tour except for Tuesdays. Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, it will be replaced with local shops.
What is included: All transfers, all tickets, one lunch, professional tour guide in English.
Cost: 75€ per person.