This is a special private tour of some unique places in Istanbul which are difficult to visit on your own. The tour will take you to the roots of historic Istanbul with visits to some monuments of Byzantine and Ottoman history.
The first stop is the Suleymaniye Mosque, built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and constructed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan between1550 and 1557. The Suleymaniye is modeled in part on the style of a Byzantine basilica, particularly the Hagia Sophia, perhaps a conscious move by the Sultan to create continuity and a symbolic connection with the city’s past. We will then drive along the city walls to one of the oldest and most important churches in the city – The Church of Chora* – with its incredible Byzantine mosaics depicting the life of Christ in chronological order. We will also visit with local artisans in the area.
Following the Church of Chora, we will have a tea-coffee break at one of the most splendid spots in Istanbul, the Pierre Loti Cafe, with its incredible view of the Golden Horn and Pierre Loti Hill. After tea we will drive along the shores of the Golden Horn through Fener and Balat, old Greek and Jewish residential areas.
After lunch, we will visit Dolmabahce Palace the last residence for Ottoman Sultans with 365 rooms and 22 saloons and a famous collection of European antiques, furniture and 4.5 ton crystal chandeliers.
NOTE*The Church of Chora is currently undergoing renovation. Only a small section is open to visitors.