Taste of Istanbul


TOUR OVERVIEW

Tour offers a chance to see the varieties of historical,cultural and modern faces of İstanbul.We discover the top must-see sites such as mosques,churches,bazaars and art museums including off the beaten tracks in three days.This tour is a great advantage for travellers who'd like to see more than toursity quarter of the city.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Bosphorus Cruise-Admire the skyline view along the strait.

Chora Church-See the glittering mosaics of late Byzantine art.

Dolmabahçe Palace-Visit the glamorous palace of the last sultans.

Spice Bazaar-Enjoy the aromatic smell along the street,taste the different flavours of Turkish delight.

Blue Mosque-See the mesmerizing blue tiles in a royal mosque of Ottoman Empire.

Hagia Sophia-Visit remarkable cathedral of Byzantine Empire.

Topkapı Palace-Witness the glory of the Empire,see the dazzling treasury.

ITINERARY

DAY 1 Visit Hippodrome,Blue Mosque,Grand Bazaar,Süleymaniye Mosque,Spice Bazaar and Büyük Valide Han

In the morning we start with Hippodrome.It was the circus of the Byzantium built by Septimius Severius in 203 AD.It was 450m(1476ft) long 150m(427ft) wide with the capacity of 100.000 spectators.Its function went on even after Constantine the Great moved the capital from Rome to Istanbul.City name was changed to Nova Rome(new Rome) then to Constantinople.Chariot races were the most populer activity.They were so compelling that one of them ended up with a revolt called Nika.City was damaged badly and Hagia Sophia was burned into the ashes.Some of the original monuments of the circus are still standing such as Egyptian obelisk,serpent column.Then we pass on to Blue Mosque. .Its official name is Sultan Ahmed Mosque as it was built during his reign but because of more than 20.000 blue Iznik tiles its known as Blue Mosque.Not only a mosque to pray but also it was a social complex of Ottomans consisting of Madrasah,hospice,kitchen and tomb of the founder.Although it is an active mosque we have a chance to visit the interior between praying times.We continue to Grand Bazaar. It was built shortly after conquest of İstanbul in 1455.Having 65 covered streets,mosques and more than 3000 authentic shops,it is considered as a largest covered market in the world.Vendors still follow traditions of 15 th century.No competition is allowed among shops.Valuations are done by the goverment and shops cant raise the prices. They used to pay rents in gold until recently.We walk through the bazaar to Süleymaniye Mosque.It was built in16th century by the great architect Sinan during Sultan Süleyman the magnicifant reign.It crowns one of the seven hills of İstanbul overlooking Golden Horn.Like other imperial mosques it was built as cultural and social complex including madrasah,caravanserai,kitchen and tombs.We continue to Spice Bazaar.On the way we sheer off to visit 17th century Han.We will enjoy the stunning view of Bosphorus from the roof top.Then we experience the atmosphere of Spice Bazaar and have some free time there.Then we return to the hotel.

DAY 2 Visit Topkapı Palace,Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern,join Bosphorus Boat Tour

Today we visit Topkapı Palace first. It was a residence and goverment quarter of Ottoman Sultans.Palace was built by Sultan Mehmet the Conquerer in 1478 and hosted 25 sultans in 400 years.With its functional simplicity and detailed tile decorations it represents Ottoman classic architecture.We see kitchens,council chamber,sultan's pavilions and treasury section there.Then we pass on to Hagia Sophia. .It was built in 537 AD by Emperor Justinianos and became a symbol of Byzantine Empire.As it was a great example of early Byzantine architecture,Hagia Sophia was taken as a model for many Ottoman mosques.It served as a Greek Ortodox church,Roman Catholic church and Mosque in 14 centuries.It remained as a largest church in the world until Giralda Cathedral was constructed 1000 years later in Seville.We walk up to second floor as well to see the empress lodge and admire vast interior from top.Then we have a lunch around Sultan Ahmed Square.We carry on to see impressive water reservoir of Byzantine Empire called Basilica cistern or sunken palace.It was built in the 6 century AD during Justinianos reign.Having 336 columns inside and 100.000 tones of water capacity,It is one of the most impressive buildings in İstanbul and coolest spot to escape from the heat of the city.Its mysterious atmosphere made it a popular location for film productions such as James Bond film ''From Russia With Love'' and The International.Then we walk down to Golden Horn and get on board.İstanbul has a flourishing skyline and Bosphorus cruise is the best way to experience it.We cruise along both European and Asian shores 2 hours.Then we return to the hotel

DAY 3 Visit Dolmabahçe Palace,Modern Art Museum,Chora Church and İstanbul Archaeology Museum

Today we have a short drive to Dolmabahçe Palace.It was the last residence and administrative center of Ottoman Empire from 1856 to 1924.It hosted 6 sultans.After abolition of the caliphate,Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the founder of Turkish Republic used the palace as a presidental residence in summer.He died here in 1938 10th of November which is a national mourning day today and has been commemorated since then. Unlike the former palace,it is glamorously decorated with golds and crystals.It consists of 3 functional areas,Mabeyn-i Hümayun(administration center),Harem-i Hümayun(Sultan and his family's living quarter) and Muayede Salon (Ceremonial Hall).With 285 rooms,44 meeting halls and 6 hamams (baths) and area of 45.000 square meters, it is the largest palace in Turkey.Its eclectic architecture is a blend of Neo Classic ,Rococo and Baroque wirh Ottoman classic style.We have a guided tour in the palace then continue on to Modern Art Museum.It was opened in 2004 at Galata Pier.It hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as İstanbul Bienal every two years.We see the current exhibition and enjoy the Bosphorus view from the terrace.We have lunch in one of the local fish restaurants in Eminönü and pass on to Chora Church.Monastery was built in the 6. century on the cemetry of St Babylas and his 84 disciples who were martyred in Nicea(İznik).It is located out of city walls of Constantinople thats why it was named Chora which means ''countryside''.Early church was damaged by earthquakes and rebuilt in the 11th century.Existing church has a Greek cruciform layout consisting of narthex(entrance) ,naos(main hall) and parekklessions (side hall).Internal walls of the church is covered with fascinating unique mosaics and well preserved frescoes that depict miracles of Jesus and life of Virgin Mary.It was converted to a mosque in the 16.century during Sultan 2.Bayezid reign.Mosaics and frescoes were covered with white plaster which helped its preservation.It was opened to public as a museum in 1958.We then drive to İstanbul Archeological Museum.It was founded in 1891 by Osman Hamdi Bey.The museum complex consist of 3 buildings ancient orient museum,tiled kiosk museum and archaeological museum.It has won the European Council Museum Prize in 1993 due to the its variety in exhibition.We see the highlights of the museum such as the world famous sarcophagus of Alexander the Great,treasury of Troy and artifacts from Lebanon and Egypt.Then we return to the hotel.We meet again for the last night dinner in Beyoğlu district.

TRIP INFORMATION

Includes

3 Lunch,3 dinners,English speaker lecienced tour guide,passenger insurance,enterance fees at the sites written in the itinerary.

Excludes

Drinks,gratitudes for tour staff,personal expenses.

Tour staff

Tour guide and driver

Season

Four seasons

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