This tour covers the major tourist sites in the old city. The tour begins at Hagia Sophia, one of the great marvels of Byzantine architecture. Built as a basilica in 537 by Byzantine Emperor Justinianus, St.Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years. It served as the Patriarchal basilica of Constantinople, until it was converted to a mosque in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet II, the Conqueror and into a museum by Atatürk in 1935.
The Blue Mosque is unique with its six minarets and famous for its 20,000 blue Iznik tiles which decorate the interior and give it its name. Built in the name of Sultan Ahmet, it is the last great imperial mosque of the classical period.
The Hippodrome, originally built in the 3rd century AD and enlarged by Constantine, who lined its center with obelisks and columns from ancient Egypt and Greece including the Obelisk of Theodosius, Serpentine Column. A later addition is the German Fountain of Wilhelm from 1898.
The Caferaga Medresesi is a collection of workshops in handcrafts sponsored by a foundation which supports Turkish Culture.
After lunch at aTurkish restaurant, we will visit Topkapi Palace, the extraordinary palace that was the residence of the Imperial Ottoman Sultans and the center of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years. It is a typical example of Ottoman architecture and includes the exhibition of extraordinary collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armours, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and jewelry. (The Treasury and the Harem sections are not included in this tour.)
The final stop of the day is the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered market in the world with more than 60 streets and 4.000 shops, selling leather clothing, carpets, antiques, jewelry, hand-woven fabrics and much more.
NOTEHagia Sophia Museum is closed on Mondays and Topkapı Palace is closed on Tuesdays. It will be replaced with Chora Museum. Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays and it will be replaced with Spice Bazaar.