This is a boutique
tour with a maximum of 14 participants.
After pick up at
around 08:30 from either your hotel or the Istanbul cruise port, you will visit
the following sights with an experienced and licensed professional guide:
Cable Car to Pierre
Loti: Enjoy the beautiful view from the cable car as you climb the hill to
the cafe named after the famous French writer and naval officer, Louis Marie
Julien Viaud a.k.a. Pierre Loti (1850 -1923), who wrote fiction based on his
experiences in Istanbul.
Bosphorus Cruise: We will cruise
on the Bosphorus to allow you the prime perspective from which to view the fine palaces,
pavilions, Ottoman houses and seaside neighborhoods along the shores of this
famous and historic waterway connecting the Black sea and the Maramara sea.
The Marmaray provides a unique
chance to make a link between the European and Asian continents by train
in a sub-sea tunnel (resting upon the sea floor beneath the waters of
the Bosphorus Street). This engineering feat was first conceived by a legendary
Ottoman sultan in 1860. Designed to resist earthquakes, this is the world’s
first underwater tunnel that connects two continents. In theory, it
brings continents closer to each other, +the day when it will be possible to travel from London to Beijing
via Istanbul by train!
The giant rail system
of Istanbul’s Marmaray Project was inaugurated and opened on October 29, 2013
following four years of construction delays that were largely due to the
discovery of ruins dating from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman
Fortress (From the sea): The largest fortification for the
protection of Istanbul built by Sultan Mehmet II in 1451 before his conquest of
the city. This garrison is well preserved and its towers and walls can be seen
clearly as our boat passes by.
Pasha Mosque: This majestic and surprising little
mosque was designed by the most famous of Ottoman architects, Mimar Sinan, for
the Grand Vizier Rustem Pasha who had married Princess Mihrimah, one of the
daughters of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Its construction took place from
1561 to 1563. The mosque is famous for its exquisite tiles from Iznik that are
set in beautiful floral and geometric arrangements and which cover not only the
facade of the porch but also the mihrab, minbar, walls, and columns of the
A nice lunche will be served in a quaint local
Basilica Cistern: Built by
Justinian after 532, the Basilica Cistern stored water for the Great Palace (Topkapi palace) and
nearby buildings. Lost to memory, it was rediscovered in the mid sixteenth
century by Petrus Gyllius, who had been sent to Constantinople by the
French King Francis I in search of Byzantine monuments and manuscripts.
Gyllius, who noticed that the local people were lowering buckets through holes
in the floors of their houses to retrieve water, found an entrance and thus put
this mysterious subterranean architectural surprise back on the map. You will
marvel at the almost 10,000 square meters of space supported by 336 marble
columns each nine meters in height.
Hagia Sophia Museum: The Hagia Sophia
that you can visit today was the primary church of Byzantine Constantinople and
was built upon the site of two earlier churches that had been destroyed.
Emperor Justinian I (527-565) commissioned the project and had materials
brought in from all around his empire for the massive church’s construction.
The Hagia Sophia was the most important church of the Christian East.
Structurally, it was the first of its design and boasted the largest dome that
had yet been engineered which provided a voluminous and well illuminated
interior. After Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, the Hagia Sophia
was converted into a mosque and was used as such throughout the Ottoman period.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the modern Turkish Republic’s most revered founding
father and its first Prime Minister, initiated the process to have the Hagia
Sophia transformed into a museum which opened for visitors in February 1935.
Mosque/Blue Mosque: This mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet I
between 1609 and 1616 and is located in the district of old Istanbul that is
named after this Ottoman Sultan and it is distinguished by its six slender
minarets. The central dome is 43 m in height and 33.4 m in diameter and there
are 260 stained glass windows throughout the mosque. Due to the intricately
decorated blue, green and red tiles of its interior, it has long been referred
to as the Blue Mosque. These tiles, produced and painted by hand in
Iznik (ancient Nicaea), are an attraction in and of themselves. The
Quranic inscriptions that you will see throughout the mosque were made by
Seyyid Kasım Gubari, one of the most famous calligraphers of his time.
Roman Hippodrome and
Monuments: The ancient Hippodrome was the center of Byzantine social life and the
scene of fiercely competitive chariot races. It was located in the square that
is now in front of the Blue Mosque and is still the site of ancient relics from
its glory days. These are the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine
Column, and the Column of Constantine. Remains of the curved end of the
Hippodrome wall can be seen on the southwest side of the three monuments.
After the tour, you
will be returned to your hotel. You may also choose to part from your guide at
the location of the last visited sight of the tour.
Please note that the
order in which sights are visited may vary.
Please make note of
- There is a 30% discount for
children under the age of 7 and children aged 2 and younger are free
- Haghia Sophia Museum is closed
on Monday, replaced with Topkapi Palace Museum
- There are no shopping stops
made during our tour but if our guests would like to do some shopping
following the conclusion of the tour we can be of assistance
- It is advised to wear
conservative clothing when visiting mosques and churches
- You are kindly requested to
present yourself at the pick up point 15 minutes prior to the pre-advised
pick up time
- Smoking is not permitted in
transportation vehicles and in museums
- Please note that the sights
visited in this tour are also available as two separate half day tours