First you will visit the magnificent TOPKAPI PALACE, the residence of the sultans for almost three centuries. 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. In the Treasury section, you will see breathtaking displays, including the 7th largest diamond in the world, the “Spoonmaker’s Diamond”. At the chamber of Holy Mantle you can see the sacred leavings from Prophet Mohammad (PBU). (Entrance fee for Harem section is not included.)
Next you will visit the HIPPODROME, which was one of the largest chariot race grounds of the Byzantine Empire. Here you can see the Egyptian Obelisk brought from Egypt by Emperor Theodosius; the Serpentine Column (Tripod of Plataea) from Temple of Apollo at Delphi and the Tiled (Walled) Column erected by Constantine Porphyrogenitus at 10th century AD.
Then you will visit 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 colorful blue Iznik tiles that adorn the interior. These tiles were made at the peak of Iznik tile production in the early 17th Century.
Lunch will be served at a Local Restaurant. (Set Menu local lunch, drinks extra)
After lunch you will visit the ST. SOPHIA, the church of the Divine Wisdom. The architectural marvel of all time. It was built during Emperor Justinian reign (AD537) and it remained the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet II who ordered to convert Hagia Sophia into a Mosque. In 1934, proclaimed as a museum.
After lunch you will visit the GRAND BAZAAR, the largest and oldest covered Bazaar in Turkey with more than 4,000 shops. A variety of handicrafts, carpets, rare jewels and souvenirs all sold in small shops next to each other. The merchants are selling everything from antiques, home wares, books, copper ware, ceramics, gold and souvenirs. Venture into the hidden courtyards or hans, lookout for marble fountains and ornate kiosks. Streets are named according to the trades and the most oriental atmosphere in Istanbul is found in the bazaar.
At the end of your tour, back to your hotel. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Istanbul.