4 Days 3 Nights
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
We continue our tour of the Sultanahmet area, the hub of ancient Istanbul, with breakfast at the hotel and a visit to the Hagia Sophia Mosque. The church, planned by Anthemius of Tralles and Isodore of Miletus and built by Emperor Justinian in the early sixth century AD, is one of the world's architectural wonders.
The skyline of old Istanbul is still dominated by its huge dome. It's also known for its mosaics, which include gilded images of emperors and empresses, as well as a touching Virgin and Child.
The Blue Mosque (closed on Friday mornings) is the next stop on our tour. It gets its name from the beautiful tiles that cover its interior. It is the only imperial mosque with six minarets, having been built by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 17th century and planned by a student of Sinan, the finest Ottoman architect. It has a very beautiful courtyard. The Hippodrome, an ancient Byzantium stadium that could hold 100,000 people and display artifacts from all around the empire, could seat 100,000 people.
An Egyptian obelisk and a bronze sculpture of three intertwined serpents from Delphi are among those that have survived. The Grand Bazaar was the ancient city's economic hub, and its 4,000 stores are brimming with treasures including carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, pottery, icons, and leather products. Enjoy some Ottoman-style shopping while wandering through the Grand Bazaar. We returned to the hotel at 13:00 and spent the rest of the day at leisure. Afternoon at leisure to go shopping. The hotel is where you will spend the night.
We begin with a quick visit to the Spice Bazaar, one of Istanbul's most colorful and crowded attractions, which dates from the 17th century. Following that, we go on an incredible sail around the Bosphorus, Istanbul's magnificent waterway that connects Europe and Asia.
The stunning views surrounding the Bosphorus' forested sides include mosques, a bridge that was once the world's longest, and the huge Rumeli Hisar (no entry), a fortification erected in only three months by Fatih the Conqueror as he prepared to seize Istanbul. The Ottoman elite's 19th-century residences, as well as the Sultan's beautiful gingerbread houses and hunting lodges, are well worth seeing. Afternoon at leisure to go shopping.
*We give an introductory session on the rare Sundays when the Spice Bazaar is closed.
** Depending on the number of tour passengers, the Spice Bazaar may be explored well before Bosphorus Cruise.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be free until check-out, when you will be transferred to the airport.