BYZANTINE & OTTOMAN RELICS (OLD CITY WALKING TOUR OF ISTANBUL)
If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.
Touring the old city of Istanbul, you will not be surprised why Emperor Justinian was breathless at the first sight of Hagia Sophia, an unprecedented monumental structure in the ancient world; to this day it is the one distinguished structure that has changed the history of architecture. Built in the 6th century, Hagia Sophia was the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years. This is the third church in the history you visit, built by famous architects Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles who were especially successful for their time by being able to manage such a large and massive dome. The whole structure is a point of interest to contemporary architects and historians just as the beautiful mosaics and decorations draw the attention of art historians and experts. The cathedral was converted into a mosque during Ottoman Age and was made a museum in the early 20th century.
Next visit is the Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish, is an imperial dedication from Sultan Ahmed I in the 17th century, renowned for its magnificent more than 20.000 thousand handmade blue tiles with tulip, flower and cypress designs. It is the only mosque with 6 minarets and was built as a large complex with a madrasa (Muslim Theology School), Sultan's Resting Mansion, hospital, bath, primary school, fountain, rental rooms, and homes. Today it's an active place of worship for the Moslem.
Your Istanbul tour of the glories of the old city will continue with the Obelisk of Thutmose III, also known as the Egyptian Obelisk, the Walled Obelisk and Serpent Column in the Hippodrome.
The nearby Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts is where Seljuk and Ottoman artifacts are displayed; among them are glazed pottery, valuable antique carpets, Qurans from the 9th to 19th centuries and fine inlaid Ottoman woodwork.
The amazing Underground Cistern is next, its underground connection to Hagia Sophia reminds us about Byzantine specialization in building hidden passages.
Continue the old city of Istanbul tour with Topkapi Palace was the official royal residence and administrative center of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. The capital of the empire was moved to Istanbul after the conquest and a new palace got under construction in a short time. It is a classic example of Turkish palace architecture consisting of courtyards with different functions opening onto one another with monumental gates. The palace constantly developed with alterations and additions made by the sultans.
You will see the Hagia Eirene Museum, a 6th-century Byzantine church on entering the first courtyard where there are also the bakery, firewood storage, quarters of the palace guards and the mint and the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.
The second courtyard was the administrative center of the empire; also used by the citizens for official business, the reception of foreign embassies and state ceremonies.
The harem which had inspired numerous novels will be another exciting part of your visit. It was the private quarters of the Sultan where his mother, children, siblings and a number of servants lived.
The throne room, the treasury of the sultan and sacred relics were located in the third courtyard.
The fourth courtyard contained a number of pavilions and beautiful gardens from where you will get a panoramic view of the Golden Horn and the Galata district.
This daily Istanbul tour is operated as a walking one and recommended for those staying around the old city (Sultanahmet). If you are staying around Taksim or other districts; both way transportation will be needed and please let your operator know about your exact location before confirming your booking.