THE MAJESTIC “OLD TOWN” OF ISTANBUL
**Privately organized by UTS-United Travel Services DMC,Turkey**
The guests will be greeted on the pier or at the airport in Istanbul, or the guests will be met at their hotel lobby by UTS-Nurdan’s United Travel Services’ expert bilingual guide for a private tour of the Majestic Old Town of Istanbul, with private A/C transportation all day long.
Our tour begins exploring the unique city of Istanbul, built on Asia and Europe with the water strait in between called the Romantic Bosphorus. The world’s three empires have added layers of intrigue as well as stunning contributions to Eastern and Western civilizations in the fertile valleys of Turkey and its premier city Istanbul. We will wander around the Roman Hippodrome, Center of life in Byzantium for more than 1,000 years. The Hippodrome was a colossal stadium housing horse races around which the socio-political life of the Eastern Roman capital was centered. In its great days, it was 1575 feet long, 384 feet wide and held 100,000 spectators. It was the site of chariot racing, gladiator fights, circuses, inaugurations and triumphal parades.
Next we will visit the Blue Mosque- the masterpiece of 17th century Ottoman Architecture, famous for its unique hand-made 16th century original Iznik Tiles impressing observers with their rich dominant blue colors and oriental patterns.
This city is also home to one of the most gorgeous houses of worship in the world. The Hagia Sofia, originally the Church of St. Sophia, was the vision – and passion – of the great Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Construction began in AD 548. This expansive and ornate Church of Divine Wisdom, as the Emperor declared it, was built in four years only. A feat unheard of in the first century AD, when such structures usually took more than 100 years to complete. At the time it was the greatest church in Christendom with its immense walls and impressive dome. In the late 15th century, St. Sophia became a mosque under the auspices of the powerful Ottoman Empire – and remained so until the end of the 19th century. This architectural masterpiece remains crowned with its massive dome, and encircled with six soaring minarets. Today this world famous structure is a secular museum.
Lunch will be served at one of the recommended restaurants in the Old Town. When we will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the historical ambiance at the city.
We will then visit the Grand Bazaar, more dazzling than any other oriental bazaar, built in 1461 and in service ever since. It contains 3,500 shops employing more than 20,000 people all under one roof. Everything imaginable in the world is for sale here, glittering gold and silver jewelry, kilims, antique tiles, leather, and souvenirs. Just seeing and experiencing this fascinating bazaar is a memorable experience not something to be missed.
We will return to the pier or your hotel in the late afternoon.