TOUR DESCRIPTION

Behold the magnificent Topkapi Palaca and Blue Mosque on this 3.5-hour small-group guided walking tour of Istanbul’s best monuments. You will delve into the complex culture of Istanbul as you discover its famous monuments intertwined history. Not only will you see the beauty of Topkapi Palaca and Blue Mosque, but explore the Hippodrome of Constantinople and the German Fountain.

We begin our tour at Topkapı Palace, which, from the 15th to the 19th century, was the principal residence of the Ottoman Sultans. We will visit the fabulous Imperial Treasury and the Baghdad Kiosk.

Topkapı Palace is now a museum and has unrivalled collections of jewelry, including the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, the 3rd largest in the world. It also possesses numerous Ottoman court costumes and ceramics, notably including one of the world’s finest collections of Chinese celadon ceramics, many of which were gifts from other rulers. Interestingly, some of the ceramics have a special glaze that was said to change color in the presence of poison. We also visit the Imperial Armory, displaying centuries of Ottoman weaponry. But perhaps the loveliest feature of Topkapı Palace are its courtyards with their ancient trees; it is easy to imagine the sultan strolling here far from the cares of state and empire.

Our next stop, Hagia Eirene, the Church of the Holy Peace, is one of the few churches in Istanbul that was never converted into a mosque, as it was used as an arsenal until the 19th century. Hagia Eirene reputedly stands on the site of a pre- Christian temple and has the distinction of being the first church built in Byzantium as it was converted into the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

SULTANAHMET IMPERIAL MOSQUE Across from St. Sophia built in the 17th century by the architect Mehmet, this is known as the BLUE MOSQUE because of its magnificent interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles.

HIPPODROME, The scene of ancient chariot races, the ancient Hippodrome, with its four monuments; the GERMAN FOUNTAIN OF WILHELM II, the OBELISK OF THEDOSIUS, the bronze SERPENTINE COLUMN and the COLUMN OF CONSTANTINE.

Regular group tour days : Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Private tour days : Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

> Hotel pickup and drop off
> Transportation in comfortable, non-smoking, air-conditioned bus
> All entrance fees mentioned in the itinerary
> English speaking guidance (can be multilingual)