Private Highlights of Istanbul with Lunch at Topkapi Palace
After meeting your professionally-trained guide, you will set off on a orientation drive through the business center of the modern city, across the Galata Bridge, along the banks of the Golden Horn and under the Byzantine Aqueduct of Valens. Along the way, you will see the Saleymaniye Mosque, dedicated to Sultan S'leyman the Magnificent. You will continue around the mighty city walls, which once protected Constantinople from the many invasions and attacks it incurred over the centuries. In the Old City, your first visit will be to the Byzantine Hippodrome, which was once one of the largest chariot race grounds of the Byzantine Empire.
Visit the Sultanahmet Mosque, where large groups of pilgrims commenced their pilgrimage to Mecca. It is decorated with 21,000 blue Iznik tiles giving it the nickname "The Blue Mosque." You will then walk to the world famous monument of Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine Church of Divine Wisdom, where you can marvel at the superb mosaics and the marble decorations. .
Then you will walk through the immense gardens to experience typical Turkish cuisine in Konyali Restaurant, located within the Topkapi Palace grounds. After lunch, your tour will continue with a visit of the magnificent Topkapi Palace, the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans. See the famous treasury section, home to the Spoonmaker Diamond, the 7th biggest diamond in the world. Enter the kitchen buildings, today displaying the third richest collection in the world of Chinese and Japanese porcelain. From the palace, you will then visit the exotic Grand Bazaar area where you will have the chance to see a special demonstration on Turkish Carpets and have the opportunity for shopping. After your free time in the Bazaar, you will return to the pier.
Please Note: Hagia Sophia is closed on Monday; a visit to Underground Cistern will be substituted.
Private tours organized by Shore Excursions Group are head and shoulders above tours organized by the cruise lines. What saddle yourself with 40 others on a large bus when you can see the same things and more for the same price or less!