| Istanbul City Tour
||( Daily Morning Tour )
We begin our Istanbul city tour of the Sultanahmet district, the heart of old Istanbul, at Saint Sophia*. Built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD, this church is one of the marvels of world architecture. Its massive dome dominates the skyline of old Istanbul. It is famed for its mosaics, including glittering portraits of emperors and empresses. Next we visit the Blue Mosque, which owes its name to the exquisite tiles adorning its interior. Dating from the 17th century, it is the only imperial mosque with six minarets. The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, grand vezir to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, houses exhibits from many eras, but is most famous for its collection of Ottoman carpets. The Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, held 100,000 spectators and featured objects from all corners of the empire. Of these, an Egyptian obelisk and a bronze sculpture of three entwined serpents from Delphi survive. The Grand Bazaar, was the commercial heart of the old city and its 4,000 shops are full of treasures - including carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, ceramics, icons, and leather goods. Wandering through the Grand Bazaar, indulge in some shopping, Ottoman style. (also available on Tuesday afternoons)
*On Mondays, when Saint Sophia is closed, we visit the Chora Church, famed for its mosaics and frescoes.