Spend a day exploring the famous sites of Istanbul's Old City, from Hagia Sophia to Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar to the tombs of the Sultans.
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Duration 1 Minute
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Our journey begins in Sultanahmet, the heart of the Old City of Constantinople, at the famous Hagia Sophia. Built by Emperor Justinian more than 1,500 years ago, it was originally a church, was converted to a mosque during the Ottoman period. Hear the stories of its long history and marvel at the amazing architecture.
Across from the Hagia Sophia is another very famous site, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, more commonly known as the Blue Mosque because of its beautiful blue Iznik tiles. It is said that the Sultan told the architect to use gold, in Turkish "altin", but the architect thought he said six, in Turkish "alti". This is just one of the stories explaining why the mosque has six minarets. You'll hear more interesting stories of its history and experience the spiritual side of Istanbul. Next, we will walk around to see the remains of the Hippodrome and notable monuments including the Serpentine Column, Obelisk of Theodosius and the German Fountain of Wilhelm II.
Next, we'll head to the Grand Bazaar which is a short walk away. It's one of the oldest covered bazaars in the world with nearly 3,600 shops selling quality leather products, gold, jewellery, authentic Turkish delight, handmade carpets, antiques and more. Upon request, we can even arrange a demonstration so you can see how Turkish carpets are made. Then it will be time to enjoy lunch at a local Turkish restaurant.
After lunch, we will visit Topkapi Palace which was the residence of the Ottoman Sultans and their families, as well as the headquarters of the Ottoman Empire, for more than 400 years. There are many interesting things to see including the imperial treasury, sacred Islamic relics of Prophet Mohammed, a Chinese porcelain collection, weapons and more. Please note that live commentary from your guide is not permitted in some areas of the palace.
Finally, we'll visit the often forgotten tombs of the Ottoman Sultans and their families, tucked away to the side of Hagia Sophia. There are five tombs and each is an exquisite work of art. They all feature unique paintings, tiles and calligraphy with the earliest dating back to 1574.
Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays and replaced with Underground Cistern. Grand Covered Bazaar is closed on Sundays and replaced with authentic shops around Grand Bazaar. Topkapı Palace is closed on Tuesdays and replaced with Tour to Byzantium.