What better way to spend a weekend than experiencing the historical highlights of amazing, magical Istanbul? Istanbul is unique among the great cities of the world. It straddles two continents, Europe and Asia. Its history encompasses three major civilizations of the ancient world: Roman, Greek and Byzantine. Not to mention its history as the centre of the Ottoman Empire. And, all that history is visible on almost every street corner with modern buildings perched atop ancient ruins and remnants of ancient walls lining today’s bustling streets. It is truly a feast for the eyes and mind.
Istanbul Old City Tour includes the major historic sights: Hagia Sophia, ‘the church of holy wisdom, the architectural marvel that was inaugurated as a Byzantine church by Emperor Justinian in 537. The Ottomans converted it to a mosque in the 15th century. It is now a museum. The Blue Mosque, known for the blue Iznik tiles that cover most of its interior walls. The Hippodrome remains a stadium built by Roman Emperor Septimus Severus in the 3rd Century AD. Topkapi Palace, built by Sultan Mehmet II as his main residence. And, the Grand Bazaar, a labyrinth of streets covered by painted vaults and lined with 4,000 shops. You will also be treated to a not often seen glimpse into Turkish art and culture: the Caferaga Medresesi, a collection of artist studios where you will see artists at work on a variety of indigenous Turkish handcrafts.
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 centre 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 that supports the Turkish Culture.
After lunch at a Turkish restaurant, we will visit Topkapi Palace, the extraordinary palace that was the residence of the Imperial Ottoman Sultans and the centre 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 jewellery. (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, jewellery, hand-woven fabrics and much more.
We suggest to end your day with a Turkish Night Show and get the best local and traditional experience of Istanbul.