10. Istanbul: Full-Day Imperial & Asia Small Group Tour
Begin your tour of the Sultanahmet district, the heart of old Istanbul, at Hagia Sophia. Built by the Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century A.D. and designed by Anthemius of Tralles and Isodore of Miletus, the church is one of the marvels of world architecture. Converted into a mosque in 1453, it is now a museum. Its massive dome still dominates the skyline of old Istanbul. It is also famed for its mosaics, including glittering portraits of emperors and empresses and a poignant Virgin and Child.
Next, you will visit the Blue Mosque which takes its name from the exquisite tiles adorning its interior. Built by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 17th century and designed by a pupil of Sinan, the greatest of Ottoman architects, it is the only imperial mosque with six minarets. Its courtyard is especially grand. The Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, held 100,000 spectators and featured objects from all corners of the empire. Of these, an Egyptian obelisk and a bronze sculpture of three entwined serpents from Delphi survive.
Brief Handicrafts Presentation & Lecture (Optional Attendance) next to the Grand Bazaar. Free time to explore Grand Bazaar on your own.
1 hour visit, Meeting back and drive to Lunch.
Visit the Grand Bazaar to see carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, ceramics, icons, and leather goods. Wandering through the Grand Bazaar, indulge in some shopping,
The Grand Bazaar was the commercial heart of the old city and its 4,000 shops are full of treasures including carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, ceramics, icons and leather goods. Wandering through the Grand Bazaar, indulge in some shopping,
Note: Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays. On Sundays we visit Nuruosmaniye Street around Grand Bazaar since Grand Bazaar is closed.
Enjoy your lunch.
We begin by driving across the Bosphorus Bridge, for a time the world’s longest suspension bridge, and head for the summit of Çamlıca Hill and its panoramic views of Istanbul, the Sea of Marmara and the Princes’ Islands. Our next stop is the Grand Çamlıca Mosque, the largest mosque in Turkey, opened in 2019 and was designed by two female architects, Bahar Mızrak and Hayriye Gül Totu. A short drive brings us to the Palace of Beylerbeyi on the shore of the Bosphorus. Perhaps the most elegant late Ottoman palace, Beylerbeyi boasts six sumptuously furnished reception halls with Bohemian crystal chandeliers and Sèvres and Chinese vases, including a main salon with an indoor fountain. The sultans’ guests at the palace included Empress Eugénie of France, Shah Nasruddin of Persia and Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia. (Every day except Mondays.)