Byzantine & Ottoman Visions

Byzantine & Ottoman Visions

MT-03 - Byzantine & Ottoman Visions

Full day - Possible on regular and private basis

Combination of MT/1 and MT/2 including lunch.


AM : We begin our tour in Hagia Sophia, in the Sultanahmet district, the heart of ancient Istanbul. Built by Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century AD and designed by Antemius of Tralles and Isodorus of Miletus, the church is one of the wonders of world architecture. Converted into a mosque in 1453. Its huge dome still dominates the skyline of ancient Istanbul. It is also famous for its mosaics, including brilliant portraits of emperors and empresses and a moving Madonna and Child. Next we will visit the Blue Mosque*, which takes its name from the exquisite tiles that adorn its interior. Built by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 17th century and designed by a pupil of Sinan, the greatest of Ottoman architects, it is the only imperial mosque with six minarets. Its courtyard is especially grandiose. The Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, seated 100,000 spectators and featured artifacts from all corners of the empire. Among them are an Egyptian obelisk and a bronze sculpture of three intertwined snakes from Delphi. The Grand Bazaar was the commercial heart of the ancient city and its 4,000 stores are filled with treasures such as carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, ceramics, icons and leather goods. Strolling through the Grand Bazaar, indulge in some Ottoman-style shopping.

PM : We start at the Topkapı Palace*, the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to the 19th century. We visit the fabulous Imperial Treasury and the Baghdad Kiosk. Topkapı Palace is now a museum and boasts unrivaled collections of jewelry, including the Cutler’s Diamond, the third largest in the world. It also has numerous Ottoman court costumes and ceramics, including one of the world’s finest collections of Chinese celadon ceramics, many of them gifts from other rulers. Interestingly, some of the ceramics have a special glaze that is said to change color in the presence of poison. We also visited the Imperial Armory, which displays centuries of Ottoman weaponry. But perhaps the most beautiful feature of the Topkapı Palace are the centuries-old trees in its courtyards; it is easy to imagine the sultan strolling here away from the cares of state and empire. Our last stop, Hagia Eirene, the Church of Holy Peace, is one of the few churches in Istanbul that was never converted into a mosque, having been used as an arsenal until the 19th century. Hagia Eirene is said to stand on the site of a pre-Christian temple and has the distinction of being the first church built in Byzantium as it became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. From there, we will visit Gülhane Park, once part of the outer gardens of the Topkapı Palace, where the Edict of Gülhane, a declaration of rights and freedoms that played an essential role in the modernization of the Ottoman Empire, is located. After the proclamation of the Republic, Gülhane Park housed the Istanbul Zoo for many years.


Special Terms for This Tour:

  • Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays
  • This tour is not operated on Tuesdays as Topkapi Palace is closed

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