Private Istiklal Street and Grand Bazaar
After meeting your professionally trained guide, you will take a short drive to Taksim Square, the heart of modern Istanbul. The square was laid out in the late 1800's near a taksim (branching-point) in the city's water distribution system. At the southern end of the square is a statue of the founder of modern day Turkey, Kemal Atatürk.
Walking to the far side of the square you come to the beginning of Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) which is the main artery of the Beyoglu district. Now a pedestrian way, it is the city's most popular strolling, shopping and meeting street. Many of the buildings date back to the 19th-century when this area was referred to as the Paris of the East, with its half-European, half-Asian culture. The store fronts are lined with boutiques, cafes, consulates, restaurants, galleries, cinemas and banks, with residential apartments above. During your walk, you will visit one of the many wine houses where you will have the opportunity to taste a glass of local wine.
There are two churches on the street. St Maria Draperis and the Italian church St. Antoine which dates back to 1906 and is the most important Catholic church of Istanbul. Halfway along Istiklal Caddesi is Galatasaray Square, named after the Galata Palace, the first official European-influenced high school in the Ottoman Empire. Other sites you will see in this area include the Galatasaray Bath, which dates back to 1482, I Ek Pasaj - the flower passage, Pera Palas, which is one of the oldest hotels in Istanbul, and the Nostalgic Istiklal Caddesi Tram, a 19th-century tram that was restored and placed back into service when the street became a pedestrian street. At the end of Istiklal Street, is the area called Tünel, where French engineers built Istanbul's Tünel underground train in 1875. It allowed European diplomats and businessmen to ride between their waterside offices in Karakoy and their hilltop residences in Beyoglu. It was only the third underground railway built in the world at that time.
The final stop on the tour is the exotic Grand Bazaar area where you will have the opportunity for exploring some of the 4,000 shops. After free time in the Bazaar, you will be returned to the pier.
Please note: The covered area of the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays.