Istanbul must see – city tour
Must – See in Istanbul
Get the perfect introduction to Istanbul’s most iconic places during a half-day tour of the old city with an experienced guide. Step into the world of Ottoman sultans and Byzantine emperors as you make your way from the Hippodrome to the Blue Mosque and the underground Basilica Cistern. Explore the gleaming mosaics at Hagia Sophia, then immerse yourself in the bright colors, vivid scents and bustling aisles of the Grand Bazaar.
Behold the magnificent Hagia Sophia 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 Hagia Sophia Museum and Blue Mosque, but explore the Hippodrome of Constantinople and the German Fountain.
After you meet your guide beside Hagia Sophia Museum begin your 3.5-hour small-group walking tour by entering this architectural masterpiece. Follow your guide through this former Byzantine Christian Basilica and learn how it was converted to a mosque in the 15th century and then a museum about 500 years later. Admire the intricate details of Christian mosaics, relics and gaze up at the impressive columns and dome structure that will beg you take photos. Next, leave Hagia Sophia and stroll to Sultanahmet Square to marvel at the German Fountain. As you observe water gush from this Neo-Renaissance fountain, hear how Germany’s General Emperor Wilhelm presented this gift to Turkey to symbolize the two countries longstanding solidarity. Afterward, continue with a short walk to the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the epicenter of political and sporting life in Istanbul during Roman and Ottoman empire reign. Listen as your guide tells tales of raucous riots, exciting chariot races, and chaotic rebellions that once dominated this area.
Finally, explore the famous Blue Mosque which was commissioned in the early 1600s by 19-year-old Sultan Ahmet to challenge the brilliance of the Hagia Sophia. As you wander with your guide, stare up at the six towering minarets and enjoy the grandeur of the immense dome that fills Istanbul’s postcard worthy skyline. Inside, walk along and capture stunning views of the blue Iznik tiles that cover the walls and ceiling. Then, snap a few close-ups of the elegant stained-glass windows that fill the mosque with vibrant colors. Step out of the Blue Mosque, and promenade back through this historic area to the beginning where your tour ends.
Departure TimeApproximately 10.30AM
Return TimeApproximately 4.30PM
Dress CodeCasual, comfortable and light
Hystory of the CitFirst inhabitants of Istanbul are dating back to second millennia BC, they were settled on the Asian side of the city. Its first name comes from Megara king Byzas who took his colonists here in the 7th century BC to establish a colony named Byzantium, the Greek name for a city on the Bosphorus. Byzas chose this spot after consulting an oracle of Delphi who told him to settle across from the "land of the blind". Indeed, Byzas believed that earlier settlers must have been "blind" for overlooking this superb location at the entrance of the Bosphorus strait, only access to the Black Sea. In the 6th century BC Persians ruled the city and than Alexander the Great took it over after 4th century BC, which was a peaceful period until the 2nd century BC. In 193 AD Roman emperor Septimus Severus conquered the city and it remained under the Roman rule until 4th century AD, when emperor Constantine the Great made Byzantium the capital of entire Roman Empire and gave it his name: Constantinople, and Eastern Roman Empire was called Byzantine Empire after 5th century. The city was built on seven hills, like Rome. Early Byzantine emperors filled their city with the treasures of the ancient world, especially between 4th and 6th centuries with a population exceeded half a million. In 532 during the reign of Justinian I, riots destroyed the city. But it was rebuilt and outstanding structures such as Hagia Sophia stand as monuments to the golden age of Byzantines. Istanbul's latter history is full intrigues and sieges, it was besieged by the Arabs in the 7th and 8th centuries and by the Barbarians in the 9th and 10th, but ruled by the Fourth Crusade between 1204-1261 who destroyed and sacked all the wealth. After this, Constantinople did not regain its former richness nor strength. Ottoman Turks lead by Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1453. Renamed Islambol, the city became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Between 15th and 16th centuries, sultans built many mosques and public buildings, topping the population again around half million by the mid 1500's, Istanbul was a major cultural, political, and commercial center. The name "Istanbul" was derived from a combination of "Islambol" ("city of Islam" in Turkish) and "eis tin Polin" ("to the City" in Greek) throughout the centuries. Ottoman rule lasted until World War I when Istanbul was occupied by the allied troops. After years of struggle led by Ataturk against the occupying forces, the Republic of Turkey was born in 1923 and the capital was moved to Ankara province. But Istanbul has continued to expand dramatically; today its population is over 13 million and still increases constantly. It continues to be the commercial and cultural center of Turkey. Hope to see you soon in Istanbul.
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