Jewish & Ottoman Relics
(Prices are per person and in USD)
Note: Minimum three days' advance reservation is needed, as special permission is required atof these sites; we will ask for copies of your passports to obtain this permission. Due to possible security reasons, some sites may be closed to public admission on the day of the visit.
Closures: The Grand Bazaar is closed on Sunday, Hagia Sofia is closed on Monday, Neve Shalom Synagogue is closed on Saturday, and the Jewish Museum is closed on Saturday.
Included visits to: Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Kamondo Staircase, Zulfaris Synagogue
Duration: 8 Hours
Our tour begins with a visit to the ancient open-air Hippodrome, which was once the center of Byzantine civic life. The monuments of the Hippodrome include the Walled Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, the Obelisk of Thutmose III (erected in Luxor, Egypt in 1490 BC and brought to Constantinople in 390), and the more recent German Fountain. We continue on to the Sultanahmet Mosque, more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque so named for the 17th century blue and white Iznik tiles that cover the interior.
Next, we visit the Hagia Sophia Museum (Aya Sofya), constructed in 537 A.D. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered to be one of the most magnificent structures ever constructed, and is the fourth-largest in the world. The Hagia Sophia symbolizes the collective power of the Eastern Holy Roman Empire; it was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period before being declared a museum by Turkey’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Be prepared for the most dazzling array of carpets, clothing, jewelry, and leather goods at the legendary Grand Bazaar. Come ready to bargain, and learn a little about what you find from the talkative shopkeepers who work in the labyrinth of streets and covered passages that house the Grand Bazaar's nearly 4,000 shops. The bazaar is a world of its own, a bustling marketplace that has kept the same pace for the last five centuries.
Next, we'll make our way across the Galata Bridge to the Galata Tower, built in 1348 and a prominent feature of the Istanbul skyline. Originally, it was the largest of a series of fortifications built by the Genoese to protect the city of Galata during Byzantine and early Ottoman times, and later served as a fire lookout tower.
From Galata Tower, we will walk to the nearby Neve Shalom Synagogue, inaugurated in 1951 and is now the largest synagogue in Istanbul. Before leaving Galata, we also will see a graceful, curved double Art-Nouveau staircase, known as the Kamondo Staircase.. The staircase was commissioned in the 19th century by the Kamondos, a prosperous banking family.
Our final stop is the Zulfaris Synagogue, which was restored to house the Jewish Museum. Although the museum itself is small, it features an interesting selection of memorabilia and personal effects.
This private tour includes: