Information Not Currently Available
Approximately 7½ hours
Historic Areas of Istanbul
"With its strategic location on the Bosphorus peninsula between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul has been associated with major political, religious and artistic events for more than 2,000 years. Its masterpieces include the ancient Hippodrome of Constantine, the 6th-century Hagia Sophia and the 16th-century Süleymaniye Mosque, all now under threat from population pressure, industrial pollution and uncontrolled urbanization."
A scenic drive takes you across the Galata Bridge into the heart of Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
You'll see the Byzantine Hippodrome, once the heart of Constantinople's political and sporting life, and the setting for an array of games throughout the history of the Byzantine Empire. Monuments on the site include the Snake Column from Delphi and an Egyptian obelisk taken from the Temple of Karnak at Luxor.
Visit the Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. This 17th-century marvel was built to rival and surpass the grandeur and beauty of nearby St Sophia and is a true study in color. It displays a multitude of domes, semi-domes and graceful minarets on the exterior, and inside more than 20,000 shimmering blue Iznik tiles in more than 50 different tulip designs, as well as 216 stained-glass windows.
You'll enter the awe-inspiring Topkapi Palace Museum, a huge walled complex that hugs the Bosphorus Strait. This former palace of Ottoman Sultans is now a museum displaying an extraordinary collection of art, artifacts, and jewels, including the famed Topkapi Diamond. The windows promise breathtaking views of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant; then you'll visit St Sophia, the Mosque of Divine Wisdom. It was originally built by Constantine the Great, and later rebuilt by Emperor Justinian to be the flagship church of the new empire. St Sophia is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture and is rich with mosaics, marble pillars and coverings.
The Spice Market or Egyptian Bazaar was constructed in 1663 as a part of the adjacent Yeni Mosque complex, to generate funds for the upkeep of the mosque. This was an avant-garde concept at the time - light years ahead of the not-for-profit fundraising game. The Spice Market is the best place to purchase spices familiar and exotic, whose pungent aromas bear little resemblance to the supermarket variety, as well as fresh Turkish Delight, caviar, and a fascinating array of teas before you return to the port.
Walk back to the coach with any purchases in hand.
Please note: Expect dense traffic conditions in Istanbul. This tour is offered to guests who cruise ends in Istanbul or in-transit guests. Modest attire is required; knees, shoulders and midriffs must be covered and shoes must be removed to enter mosque(s). Shoe bags will be provided. There is no visit to the harem section at Topkapi Palace.