St. Sophia, Suleymaniye and Blue Mosques, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar
Istanbul Old City Tour Details
This tour will first take you to 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.
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.
Topkapi Palace is is the symbol and the center of the Ottoman Empire. Overlooking Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus) and the Marmara sea, stands this amazing building that was the great palace of the Ottoman Sultans. The palace is a collection of buildings arranged around a series of courtyards and has incredible collections of jewels, China, pieces of Ottoman and Islamic artwork.
Built by Mimar Sinan, the great architect, and completed in just seven years between 1550 and 1557, Suleymaniye Mosque is considered to be the most beautiful of all Imperial mosques in Istanbul. It dominates the skyline of the Golden Horn. Adjoining the mosque there are schools of theology, schools of Medicine, and a caravanserai. It is a symbol of power and glory dedicated to legendary Sultan Suleyman (Suleyman the Magnificent) who is buried there, not very far from his famous and beloved wife Hurrem Sultan (Roxelena)
Please note that Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays, Grand Bazaar on Sundays and Hagia Sophia on Mondays.
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