Ironically, Istanbul’s Asian side is filled with sprawling, Western-style suburbs, and its European side is a maze of mosques, opulent palaces, and crowded Oriental bazaars. The five tours below fouc on the European side, making occasional forays across the water.
Tour I – Half Day Afternoon Tour
Ottoman Heritage (with Entrance Ticket Included)
Topkapi Palace: Topkapi Palace was the main residence of the sultan and his court. It was initially the seat of government as well as the imperial residence. Even though access was strictly regulated, inhabitans of the palace rarely had to venture out since the palace functioned almost as an autonomous entity, a city within a city. Audince and consultation chmabers and areas served for the political workings of the empire.
Little Hagia Sophia Musum: Little Hagia Sophia (Küçük Ayasofya Camii), formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus, is a former Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Today the environment is a worth seeing natural culture center of the lost Ottoman Arts.
Note: Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesday. Vehicle will be used only for the necessary part of these tours. So please be prepared for a bit walking during the day.
Shopping Opportunity? (Half Day Morning Tour)
Istanbul Outstandings (with Entrance Ticket Included)
Hagia Sophia: Also called Church of Divine Wisdom, it is a masterpiece of grandeur and proportion. Coveted by the Islamic East and Christan West, the Hagia Sophia is one of mankind’s greatest treasures.
Blue Mosque: No one who has been to Istanbul at least once can ever forget the feeling of awe and wonder at seeing the Blue Mosque for the first time.
Hippodrome and Obelisks: The vast Hippodrom, known as At Meydani or “plaza of the horses”, stretches between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
The oldest and the larges covered market place in the world is situated in the center of the city.
Note: Hagia Sophia will be replaced by Yerebatan Cistern on Monday. Blue Mosque will be replaced by Nuriosmaniye Mosque on Friday. Grand Bazaar is closed on Sunday.
Walking through Old Stamboul, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. To the right, as you stroll up Kabasakal Sokak, are the Baths of Roxelana, ambitious wife of Süleyman the Magnificent. To the left are the workshops wife of Süleyman the Magnificent. To the left are the workshops of traditional crafspeople -a courtyard surrounded on all sides by a low-slung building of honey-colored stone, filled with tiny shops housing bookbinders, joiners, calligraphers, paper makers. Beyond the baths, a wellworn obelisk in a grassy, rectangular open space marks the side of the anicent Roman hippodrome, on the far side of which, directly opposite the imposing Blue Mosque, stands the 16th-century palace of Ibrahim Paşa, Süleyman’s grand vizir, or prime minister. Now a superb museum, this was once the finest private residence in Istanbul. Alas for Ibrahim, Roxelana coveted the vizir’s lovely palace (not to mention the power it represented) and convinced her husband to have him murdered in his sleep so she could oıssess it. Turn right and you are face to face with Sacta Sophia, the Church of the Holy Wisdom, which dates from AD 532. In its day it was the greatest church in all Christendom, with a dome so monumental that worshipers believed it to be suspended from heaven by chain. Continue walking fro a block or so and you pass Justinian’s other church, Hagia Eirene, Sancta Sophia on a smaller scale. Then you come to the outer gate of Topkapi Palace, a sprawling city into itself that once employed 50.000 people and stood for centuries as the home of the Ottoman sultans and one of the world’s great treasure houses.