Around 8:30 AM, you will be picked up from your hotel and escorted on this delightful full-day tour of Istanbul's most iconic sites:
* Hagia Sophia/Aya Sofya is a truly awe-inspiring, 1,400-year-old Byzantine cathedral which houses mosaics, relics and iron work. Hagia Sophia was, for nearly a thousand years, the largest enclosed space in the world, and still seen as one of the world's most important architectural monuments. It is one of Turkey's most popular attractions, drawn by the sheer spectacle of its size, architecture, mosaics and art. Built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD.
* Blue Mosque/Sultanahmet Mosque (Camii) built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I during 1609-1616. It is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. Due to its magnificent hand-dyed blue, green and white Iznik tiles it has been named the "Blue Mosque" by Europeans. The central dome is 43 m in height and is 33.4 m in diameter; it also boasts 260 windows.
* Hippodrome: the backdrop of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life. Of the ornaments which once decorated it, only three remain: The Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine.
The Obelisk is in the Egyptian style and was erected in 1547 BC and stood 60m tall. The German Fountain is also within the hippodrome area, constructed in Germany to mark German Emperor Wilhelm II's second visit to Istanbul; it was imported and officially opened on January 1 1901. The fountain's three domes are decorated with gold mosaics.
* Topkapi Palace was the imperial residence and administrative heart of the massive Ottoman Empire, beginnng with Fatih Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, in 1453, until 1856. It was converted to a museum in 1924. Parts of the palace such as the Harem, Baghdad Pavilion, Revan Pavilion, Sofa Pavilion, and the Audience Chamber distinguish themselves with their architectural assets. The museum also has collections from the Imperial Treasury, as well as Chinese porcelain, weapons, calligraphy, etc. The Treasury also houses the Topkapi Dagger, the 86-carat "Spoon Maker's Diamond", and the jewel-encrusted bones of St. John the Baptist.
* Grand Bazaar : The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 covered streets and over 1,200 shops. Opened in 1461, it is well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by the type of goods, with special areas for leather coats, gold jewelry and the like. The bazaar contains two bedestens (domed masonry structures built for storage and safe keeping), the first of which was constructed between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The grand bazaar consists of 12 major buildings and has 22 doors.
After the tour, at approximately 5:00 PM, you will be taken back to your hotel.
Price: 60 Euro (per person) - contact us for early booking discounts.
* Pick-up and drop-off at your hotel
* Professional, English-speaking tour guides
* Admissions to Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace
All taxes and service charges
Note about closures:
Hagia Sophia - closed on Mondays, replaced with Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)
Topkapi Palace - closed on Tuesdays, replaced with Beylerbeyi Palace (on Asian side of the city)