For your exciting Istanbul’s Historical Highlights Walking Tour, you will be picked up from your hotel by your (English-speaking guide) in an air-conditioned vehicle and driven to the old city center. Leaving the vehicle, you will set off on foot on a sightseeing tour of Istanbul.
Highlights of your exciting excursion include:
• Hagia Sophia (excluding the Gallery floor): Also known as Ayasofya or St Sophia, this is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Famous for its great dome and glorious mosaics, it has a checkered history. Originally built as a church, it was later converted into a mosque and is now a museum. On Mondays it is closed and the tour will visit Kariye (St. Savior in Chora) Museum instead.
• Kariye (St. Savior in Chora) Museum: (Mondays) The interior of this one-time church has stunning Byzantine mosaics.
• Topkapi Palace (excluding the Treasury and Harem sections): Built in the 15th century, this was the luxurious residence of the Ottoman Sultans for more than three centuries. Check out the fabulous porcelain collection in the Palace kitchens and the amazing display of sultans' robes.
• Sultanahmet Imperial Mosque: With its six graceful minarets and multiple domes, this is one of the best known features of Istanbul's skyline. Built by Sultan Ahmet I to rival Ayasofya, it is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture. (It's called the 'Blue Mosque' for the blue tiles in the upper part).
• Byzantine Hippodrome: Now a quiet public park, this was a lively place in Byzantine times. Great sports events and public celebrations were held here, as well as riots and protests. In the park you will see the 3500-year-old Egyptian granite Obelisk of Theodosius, the Serpentine Column (originally from Delphi in Greece), and the Fountain donated by Kaiser of Wilhelm II.
• The Grand Bazaar: In this labyrinth of streets and passages are more then 4,000 shops with each trade having its own area: the goldsmiths' street, the carpet sellers, Turkish arts and crafts, such as handpainted ceramic plates, hand- honed copperware, brassware and trays, water ewers, onyx- ware and meerschaum pipes.
At the end of the tour, you will board a vehicle and will be dropped off back at your hotel.