Istanbul tour of Old City: St. Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque, Grand Bazaar
DETAILS OF THIS HALF DAY TOUR
This tour will start with St.Sophia (Hagia Sophia) which was the greatest Christian church until the 16th century. It was the upmost symbol of Byzantium. With its great dome that was damaged more than once due to earthquakes and with its immense height and volume, it was built to overshadow every temple built before and after its time. It was converted into a mosque by its conqueror Mehmet II (Fatih Sultan Mehmet) in 1453 and then into a museum by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1935.
Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) is constructed between 1609 and 1617 by Sultan Ahmet I. Blue Mosque includes a complex of several buildings including an Islamic theological school, a hospital and a kitchen The main idea behind the architectural plans of this great building was to eclipse the "grandeur" of St.Sophia in every aspect. With its gorgeous tiles (famous Iznik tiles), featuring a six minarets design instead of four, and with the usage of natural lighting as an ambient creator inside, it is one of the glorious examples of Islamic art.
The Grand Bazaar or Covered Bazaar which was the trade center of commerce in its times features over 4,000 shops, over 20 hans (passage like market place) and 65 streets. It is an unbeatable living history with a lively eastern atmosphere waiting for the visitors who also like bargaining or chit-chatting with merchants who are ready to offer a glass of tea (cay) any time of the day.
Hippodrome is the arena with the scenes of chariot races and also cultural focus of the Byzantine (Roman) Empire. Remains of the three of the great monuments can be seen: the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine. The square, with its surroundings, is like an open-air museum.
Please note Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays and St. Sophia on Mondays.
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