After breakfast you begin your exploration of fascinating Istanbul with the priceless pieces of history available at your doorstep. You begin at the remains of the Hippodrome, once decorated with marble statuary and columns, in its heyday it was the site of chariot races and the focal point of the city’s civic life. The remains of some of its walls are still visible as is an obelisk brought from Egypt in 390 AD by Theodosius I. The next stop will be the Basilica of Saint Sophia, one of the largest Christian shrines ever built in history. Adorned with rich mosaic murals, colossal columns and exposition of divine serenity, Saint Sophia is a true world heritage that has accommodated various faiths throughout the different periods of history and is currently operated as a mosque displaying Byzantine art and architecture embellished by Ottoman taste.
Then, you see the serene Blue Mosque one of Istanbul’s most venerable monuments. It was built in 7 years (1606-1609 AD) with the order of Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I. From the courtyard you will enjoy the striking view of the cascading domes and semi-domes. Once inside you will see how the mosque got its name, viewing the colourful blue Iznik tiles that adorn the interior. These tiles were made at the peak of Iznik tile production in the early 17th Century.
Your next visit will be the magnificent Topkapı Palace, the residence of the sultans for almost three centuries. It is located on the promontory jutting out between the Bosporus and the Golden Horn. This setting provides a magnificent view. The construction of the Topkapı Palace was completed between 1465 and 1478. Being the imperial residence of the sultan, his court and harem, the palace was also the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire. 4,000 people lived in the Palace. We will visit the Hagia Irene ("Holy Peace", Turkish: Aya İrini), sometimes known also as Saint Irene, is an Eastern Orthodox church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. It is one of the few churches in Istanbul that has not been converted into a mosque, as it was used as an arsenal for storing weapons until the 19th century. The Hagia Irene today operates as a museum and concert hall. The church was dedicated to the peace of God, and is one of the three shrines which emperors devoted to God's attributes, together with Hagia Sophia (Wisdom) and Hagia Dynamis.
Finally, you will visit the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) – Grand Bazaar is one of the earliest shopping malls ever built in history, which maintains its charm and volume of business to the modern day with its indoor and outdoor sections. Istanbul has been the centre of commerce and trade between the Orient and the Occident even before the arrival of Ottomans. Nuru Osmaniye District (Glamour of the Ottomans) was where the Genoese and Venetian merchants had their warehouses where they store their inventory of brass, copper, rugs and tiles before they were loaded on the ships to sail to Venice and Genoa. Today, Nuru Osmaniye District is where you can find the most reputable stores with wide collections of jewellery, antiques and oriental rugs. Breathe in the vivacious atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar with a sip of Turkish coffee while checking the exciting variety of handcrafted souvenirs.
**Unique Moments: During the visit of Grand Bazaar you will be experiencing the Turkish coffee from Sark Kahvesi, Historical Coffee Roasters located in Grand Bazaar. Each variety has been prepared with a blend of traditional knowledge, experience and an abiding “Love of Coffee”. No visit to Istanbul is complete without stopping by the atmospheric Spice Bazaar. While the Grand Bazaar may be the largest and most famous of Istanbul's covered bazaars, this spice market wins the prize for being the most colourful, fragrant, and often the most fun – as visitors can taste the goods on offer.
Overnight stay at your Istanbul Hotel.