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 periods.
Rumeli 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.
Rustem 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 interior.
A nice lunche will be served in a quaint local restaurant.
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.
Sultanahmet 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 the following:
- 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