LADY DIANA HOTEL
We begin our tour of the Sultanahmet district, the heart of old Istanbul, at Saint Sophia *. Built by the Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century AD and designed by Anthemius of Tralles and Isodore of Miletus, the church is one of the marvels of world architecture. Converted into a mosque in 1453,it is now a museum. Its massive dome still dominates the skyline of old Istanbul. It is also famed for its mosaics, including glittering portraits of emperors and empresses and a poignant Virgin and Child. Next we visit the Blue Mosque which takes its name from the exquisite tiles adorning 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 6 minarets. Its courtyard is especially Grand. The Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, held 100,000 spectators and featured objects from all corners of the empire. Of these, an Egyptian obelisk and a bronze sculpture of three entwined serpents from Delphi survive. The Grand Bazaar was the commercial heart of the old city and its 4,000 shops are full of treasures including carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, ceramics, icons and leather goods. Wandering through the Grand Bazaar, indulge in some shopping, Ottoman style.
We begin our tour at Topkapı Palace, which, from the 15th to the 19th century, was the principal residence of the Ottoman Sultans. We will visit the fabulous Imperial Treasury and the Bagdad Kiosk. Topkapı Palace is a now museum and has unrivalled collections of jewelry, including the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, the 3rd largest in the world, Ottoman court costumes and ceramics, notably one of the world’s finest collections of Chinese celadon ceramics, much of it gifts from other rulers. Interestingly, some of the ceramics have a special gla ze that was said to change color in the presence of poison. We also visit the Imperial Armony, displaying centuries of Ottoman weaponry. But perhaps the loveliest features of Topkapı Palace are its courtyards with their ancient trees, and it is easy to imagine the sultan strolling here far from the cares of the state an empire. Last but no means least, we visit the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, completed in 1563. A masterpiece designed by Sinan the Magnificent, it has the most exquisite and extensive Iznik tile decoration of any mosque in Istanbul. The large quantities of exquisite Iznik tiles, arranged in a wide variety of beautiful floral and geometric designs, ass well as the spacious courtyard, make this mosque a must-see Istanbul attraction.
Not: On Tuesdays, when Topkapi Palace is closed, this tour is not offered.
We begin with a brief visit to the 17th century Spice Bazaar*,one of Istanbul’s most colorful and bustling attractions. Next, we take an unforgettable cruise along the Bosphorus, the majestic strait that runs through Istanbul, linking Europe and Asia. From our cruise boat, we view the dramatics sightseeing The Bosphorus’ wooded shores: mosques, a bridge that for a time was the world’s longest and the massive Rumeli Hisarı, a fortress built by Mehmet the Conqueror in just three months as he prepared to take Istanbul. Also noteworthy are the 19th century mansions of the Ottoman elite and the Sultans’ fanciful gingerbread palaces and hunting lodges.
We cruise the Bosphorus and from the deck of our cruise boat take in the sights and sounds of this legendary waterway, lined with historic villages, grandiose waterfront mansions, imposing fortresses, like Anadolu Hisarı and the Baroque palaces of the late Ottoman sultans. After our cruise, we visit the Spice Bazaar ** ,a thrilling riot of colors, sounds and the rich smells of exotic spices.
* The Spice Bazaar is closed on Sundays.
** The Spice Bazaar may be visited prior to the Bosphorus Cruise, depending on the number of participants.
We begin by driving across the first Bosphorus Bridge, which for a time was the world’s longest suspension bridge, and head for the summit of Çamlıca Hill, a which affords panoramic views of Istanbul, the Sea of Marmara and the Princes’ Islands. From here a short drive begins us to the Palace of Beylerbeyi on the shore of the Bosphorus. Perhaps the most elegant of the late Ottoman palaces, Beylerbeyi boasts six sumptuously furnished reception halls with Bohemian crystal chandeliers and Sevres and Chinese vases, including a main salon with an indoor fountain. The sultans ‘guests at the palace included Empress Eugenie of France, has Nasruddin of Persia and Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia.(Every day except Mondays and Thursdays.)
Special Full Day Old City Tour
Combining "Morning Bosphorus Cruise" and "Asia and Beylerbeyi Palace Cruise" include lunch
If you find yourself feeling the need to escape from the bustle of Istanbul for a day, absolutely nothing could be easier. You simply join us aboard a ferry bound for the idyllic Princes’ Islands, enjoying cool breezes and charming sights along the war. Our destination is Büyükada, the largest of the island chain, but we will pass by four other islands on the way. All these islands are famous for their mild climates, lush vegetation and ornate Ottoman houses, and on all of them cars are strictly prohibited. On the Princes’ Islands, the preferred means of transportation is the charming horse-drawn carriage known as the phaeton, which we will use on our circular tour of Büyükada, passing brilliant purple bougainvillea. You will feel as though you have suddenly stepped back into a bygone era finding yourself almost expecting to see elegant 19th century ladies and gentlemen come strolling toward you down on the waterfront as they take their afternoon promenade. We will enjoy our lunch at the best of the many excellent traditional fish-restaurants that line the waterfront, gazing, as we enjoy succulent delicious meze appetizers and fresh fish, across the water at the Asian shore of Istanbul, so close though it feels worlds away.
To have a great experience to discover your personnel passion in Istanbul or, to enjoy a customized itinerary in-depth look at the city, ask your hotel’s concierge about exclusive private interest tours or for a private guide. Please consult with your concierge for more information, for full arrangements and customized tours.
The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony is known worldwide for its whirling dances and dervishes , featuring a complex musical repertoire called " ayin " . The ceremony represents the mystical journey of man's spritual ascent through mind and love to perfection. It is one of the most important richness and heritage of Turkish Culture as a tradition of 800 years old. This unique traditional ritual is proclaimed as Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.Program starts with the classical turkish music concert performed by a traditional orchestra for 15 minutes. Then after The ceremony starts and lasts about 45 minutes under the amazing lighting and mystic atmosphere of Hodjapasha.
Rhythm of the Dance
Variety of charming folkloric dances of Anatolia, Balkan and Caucassian regions combined with exotic oriental dances with modern choreography in collages , including group or solo male and female belly dancers. Highly energic and moving, amazing costumes. 360 degree video projection effects are used during the show.
Big Bus Tours offers sightseeing tours of Istanbul by open-top double-decker bus. Commentary is provided in a choice of languages. You may hop on and off at any of our stops to visit attractions and places of interest. The Big Bus Tour of Istanbul runs every day of the year. You may buy your tickets from the front office desk.