Thousand years of history sit within the walls of right this area; Sultanahmet. The day makes you grab more than a slice of history. The city, once admired by orientalists in the past will get you disoriented the moment you take the first breath of its air. The breathtakingly dazzling neighbourhood is crawling with mosques, palaces, churches and houses dating from Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) and Ottoman periods. The Museum of Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom), served as both church and mosque, blends aspects from its Christian and Islamic heritage. That’s why just one visit is not enough to explore all the beauties and mysteries of this monumental masterpiece. You will always have a reason to revisit. The interior part filled with tens of thousands blue tiles, another masterpiece, Sultanahmet Mosque tells you how it has been given the unofficial name of Blue Mosque, and fills you full of admiration as much as the exterior part with domes and six minarets. The massive main door of the mosque opens out Hippodrome. The venue where the chariot races were held is decorated by obelisks and statues from Byzantine era, and German Fountain from the Ottomans. Approximately 400 years, Topkapi Palace was the court of Ottoman Empire and home of the sultans who ruled the world for centuries. The glimpse you give on this day won’t be momentary. With its opulent pavilions, spellbinding treasury and especially with the Harem, the palace will put on another spell on you together with other gems of the area. Sunday is not the day for a visit to Grand Bazaar and without it Istanbul is never completed. With nearly 4,000 shops, it is one of the oldest covered markets. A place you can buy anything, even a flying carpet! A maze you never want to escape from. An idea of labyrinth never hit Daedalus! A point where the history and art TOUCH THE EARTH of the remarkable city of Istanbul. Do not be scared of getting lost, because there is always someone to walk you out of the bazaar. Take it easy and just let yourself a few hours in it or a few days!
Here we are in Istanbul! It is the full package. It is packed with legends, history, archaeology, art, civilizations, museums, architectural masterpieces, empires, world heritage, shopping, food and many more we can’t count.
It is so lucky that all historic sights, museums, shopping areas, eateries are within easy walking distance.
Firstly, your jaw will drop when your eyes are drawn to Hagia Sophia. Constracted as a church, converted to a mosque and now it is a museum, but always it is extraordinary beautiful! One of the most valuable and fascinating structures in the world of art, it holds the collection of the rare works both from Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. As a church, it was rebuilt three times on the same place and named Megale Ekklesia (big church) but then renamed as Hagia Sophia (holy wisdom). It served as the main mosque of Istanbul for nearly 500 years, inspired many architects and became a sample for many of the Ottoman mosques of Istanbul. With your first step into the museum, you will explore many more priceless jewels.
Istanbul is identified with most photogenic building, Sultanahmet Mosque aka Blue Mosque. It was named after the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I, but its internationally recognised name, Blue Mosque comes from the Iznik tiles numbered in the tens of thousands. Once you advance into the huge courtyard and look up enormous six minarets which were more than any other mosque at the time it was built, your eyes will be on stalks and you will definitely appreciate the building's impeccable measurements.
You will reach your next stop, Hippodrome, via the courtyard of the mosque. Hippodrome was the centre of Byzantium's life for 1000 years and Ottoman life for another 400 years, and witnessed too many important historical major moments of both empires. Two obelisks, one of them brought from Egypt by Emperor Theodosius the Great, one column (Serpent Column) from Byzantium era and one fountain presented to the sultan by German Emperor from Ottoman age prove the significance of the square.
You may think we've saved the best 'til last, today everything you see will be the best for you. You can’t decide which one is the real best. Topkapi Palace is another best part of the tour that will pose a difficult dilemma for you. Nearly four centuries it was not only the administrative center for the Sultans of Ottoman Empire but also residence of the sultans and educational centre. With four courts, Imparial Council Chamber, Imperial Treasury, kiosks, kitchens, pavilions and the harem. All the things you see reflect the glory of the palace.
Grand Bazaar marks your full-day trip today. With thousands of shops and many marketplaces, mosques, fountains, hamams, cafes where locals smoke nargiles (water pipes) and restaurants interspersed among these shops, Grand Bazaar is an old version of modern shopping malls. You can finish your day searching for what you desire to buy. Anything you want to purchase is waiting for you at the corner of one of the streets inside this hectic maze.