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Approximately 4½ Hours
Drive 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 center of Constantinople’s political and sporting life. On the site are the Snake Column from Delphi and an Egyptian obelisk purloined 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 riot of stunning 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 complement 216 stained-glass windows.
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/minivan and transfer to the airport.
Please note: This tour is available only to guests whose cruise ends in Istanbul, with flights departing after 3pm. Expect dense traffic conditions in Istanbul. Modest attire is required; knees, shoulders and midriffs must be covered, and shoes must be removed to enter the mosque. Shoe bags are provided. Women must cover their head with a scarf, provided at the mosque. The Blue Mosque is not wheelchair accessible. Not advisable for guests using a wheelchair. Some artifacts at Blue Mosque maybe obscured by ongoing renovations.