(Prices are per person and in USD)
Note: The Hagia Sofia is closed on Monday, the Topkapi Palace Complex is closed on Tuesday, and the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sunday.
Visits include: The Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and Harem Quarters, and the Grand Bazaar
Duration: 8 Hours
Our Service Includes: Private tour with a professional guide and a private chauffeur-driven air-conditioned, non-smoking van; Entrance fees to museums and sites; Personal pick-up & drop-off from your hotel or port, as needed.
Our tour begins with a visit to the ancient open-airHippodrome, an area that was once the center of Byzantine civic life.The monuments of the Hippodrome include the Walled Obelisk, the Serpent Column, the Obelisk of Thutmose III, and the more recent German Fountain. We continue on to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, more familiarly known as theBlue Mosque-named for the 17th century blue and white Iznik tiles gilding the interior.
Next, we visit the Hagia Sophia-or Aya Sofya-consructed in the year 537 C.E. Often described as the greatest work of Byzantine architecture, it is currently the fourth-largest historic church strcture in the world. Originally built as a testament to the power of the Eastern Holy Roman Empire, the Hagia Sophia was for centuries a mosque before becoming a museum. Today, it's home to the treasures of many centuries and cultures: mosaics, religious relics, ancient inscriptions, everyday artifacts, and artwork from around the world.
We'll continue to Topkapi Palace, or Topkapi Saray, the heart of the Ottoman Empire. The famous Harem Quarters are not the only royal luxury. Today, the palace is a massive museum whose garden and many hundreds of chambers showcase the decadence and refinement that blossomed at the height of the Ottoman Empire-and the spectacular scale on which it was acheived. The grounds include one of the world's largest ceramic collections, including beautiful examples of Chinese, Japanese, Ottoman, and French porcelain. These are housed in the huge kitchen complex, next to the armory and to the right of the jewel collection, home of the Spoonmaker's Diamond. The vividly preserved mosaics and carvings that cover both the inner and outer walls of the entire immense compound blend with the fragrant gardens and orchards, and truly transport the traveller back in time.
A product of this Ottoman and Anatolian culture is the rich variety of precious handmade carpets, clothing, jewelry, and worked-leather goods that line the stalls of the legendary Grand Bazaar. Come ready to bargain, and learn a little about what you find from the talkative shopkeepers who work in labrynth 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, bursting marketplace that has run at this pace for the last five centuries. What will you find?