Best of Istanbul Old City - Private Guided Tour | Travel Turkey 2023
Best of Istanbul Old City - Private Guided Tour
Dramatically located on the peninsula crossing the Bosphorus into Asia, Istanbul Old City has been an important witness to world history from the days of Byzantine rule to the Ottomans. Fascinating history and exotic architectures are still treasured today, testifying to the city's glory and prosperity.
Our private tour invites you the highlights of this attractive place and dedicates in accordance with your wishes. Please just tell your guide what interests you most. You can do sightseeing at your own pace, ask questions to the guide anytime anywhere, and stop for photos without hesitation! (Including round trip transfer from/to the hotel)
You will visit…
- Hagia Sophia – The church of the Holy Wisdom which is the greatest masterpieces of Byzantine architecture
- Blue Mosque – A Jewel of Ottoman architecture known as the most beautiful mosque in the world
- Hippodrome – Relic of the Byzantine Empire used to be a public arena mainly for chariot races
- German Fountain – The neo-Byzantine style fountain gifted by German Emperor to Sultan
- Topkapi Palace – A symbol of Ottoman’s power and the imperial residence of Ottoman Sultans
- Grand Bazaar – The world largest and oldest covered market where was a center for local trade of clothing and jewels during Ottoman period.
Enjoy your delightful day!!
(Image Pictures) Left: Hagia Sophia, Middle: Blue Mosque, Right: Interior of Blue Mosque
Its outstanding appearance with its beautiful architecture and art, its rich history and religious significance make it the top tourist attraction in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia was originally built as a church to worship, became a mosque at the time of the Turkish conquest of Constantinople, converted into a museum upon the order of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1935, and once again became a mosque in 2020. Please pay attention to the interior as well. You will see the harmony and tolerance of two religions, Christianity and Islam. While most of the walls are decorated with extremely beautiful mosaics using gold, silver, glass, terra cotta and colorful stones, you can see Koran verse in the dome and calligraphy panels with Islamic names and Islamic attributes on the corners.
Located across the street from Hagia Sophia, its official name is Sultan Ahmet Mosque known as the most beautiful mosque in the world. Its design is traditional Islamic architecture combining some Byzantine elements taken from the adjacent Hagia Sophia. Aside from its overwhelming size and exceptional beauty, the best feature of this mosque is that it has six minarets. When you enter the building and start to look at the inside, you will realize the origin of the name Blue Mosque. The more than 20,000 handmade Izmik ceramic tiles decorate the interior, featuring 50 different tulip patterns, other various kinds of flowers, fruits and cypresses. There are 260 windows allowing the sunlight to shine these tiles and it creates a deep blue, peaceful and breathtaking scene.
(Image Pictures) Left: Hippodrome, Middle/Right: Topkapi Palace
After immersing in deep history and marvelous architectural structures of the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, let you peek into that age at the Hippodrome. Known as the Sultanahmet Square, today it is a large green open-air park. However, here was center of Byzantine civil life back then. The heated chariot races were held at the wide racetrack in front of the emperor and tens of thousands of Constantinople’s citizens cheered in excitement. You can still see 3 important monuments that once graced the stadium; The Egyptian Obelisk, The Sepentine’s Column, The Column of Constantine. They will remind you the empire proudly displayed them to show its strength and extensive territory.
You may notice a small but a beautiful architecture between the Hippodrome and Blue Mosque. This green dorm is the German Fountain which was built in Germany, shipped piece by piece and assembled here in 1900. As you get closer, you find the inside of the dorm is decorated with gilded mosaics.
Take a little walk to Topkapi Palace while enjoying atmosphere of this fascinating historical area (about 10-15min). It is officially known as the imperial residence of Ottoman Sultans for about 400 years, today it attracts many tourists as a museum of the glory and royalty of the Ottoman Empire. The majestic main gate, Imperial Gate welcomes your arrival and leads you to its garden called the First Court. As you venture deeper into this historic complex, you will get a glimpse into his private life. (There are four courts in this palace.) At the Pavilion of the Conqueror in the third court, there are large collections of Ottoman treasures and jewelries including the emerald Topkapi Dagger and one of the largest cut diamonds in the world called Spoonmaker’s Diamond. Please take in the exquisite beauty of this imperial jewelry collection. (Harem area is not included.)
(Image Pictures) Grand Bazaar
Enjoy your shopping at the colorful and lively Grand Bazaar. Here is like a funny maze with more than 60 streets and 4000 shops selling traditional local products like rugs, jewelry, ceramics, leather goods, spices, sweets and more. Although the bazaar follows a certain order, it is difficult not to get lost in the hustle and bustle. Please do not worry. You are with the expert who guides you to the place where you can find what you want. When you find something you like, do not be shy and try to haggle like a local. If you are not a shopping fun, it will be a unique experience to stroll through the maze-like alleys of the historic bazaar and feel the orient atmosphere reflecting Istanbul spirit.
- The tour order and sites might be changed depending on the travel date and season.
Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays. Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuseday.
It will be replaced with Basilica Cistern.
Blue Mosque is closed on Friday until 2pm.
- This is a walking tour since all the sights are within walking distance.
- When you visit Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, please dress respectfully (no shorts, short skirts, or shoulder-less tops). Women should wear a headscarf before entering which can be borrowed for free at the main entrance. Also all visitors are required to remove their footwear upon entry.
For more information…
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