This tour is also available as
a Private Tour.
New Rome, Byzantium, Constantinople… finally Istanbul. The capital of the Eastern Roman Empire has had many names over the centuries. Situated strategically on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait, once the last leg of the famous Silk Road, it reaped unimaginable benefits from controlling trade between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Defended by the sea on one side and the Bay of the Golden Horn on the other, it was surrounded by an additional 40 kilometre long wall – all that making the city an impregnable fortress! No wonder, then, that after the fall of Rome in 476, it became the de facto capital of European civilization, continuing occupying this position until 1453, until Constantinople was finally captured by the Turks. For some, this marked its downfall, while for others it marked the beginning of a golden era. The city remained invincible, it was still a vibrant metropolis where Latin no longer mixed only with Greek, but now also Turkish, Arabic, Yiddish and Ladino. As the capital of the Ottoman Empire, it was thriving, growing larger and more powerful than ever before. Istanbul is rightly called the gateway to Europe… or to Asia, as it is the only metropolis lying on two continents and combines Eastern and Western influences like no other place on earth. And like a lens, it focuses and combines the history of both East and West.
Our tour will begin in Sultanahmet, the historic centre of the former Greek polis that used to function here. It was here in the majestic Hippodrome that gladiatorial battles and bloody horse races, beloved by the Byzantine emperors, took place. Today on the site of it there is a square with the war trophies of the Roman emperors – old obelisks and the famous Serpentine Column. Right next to it, in a place where the imperial palace once stood, stands the pride and most important building of the Ottoman Empire, the Blue Mosque, the first mosque in the world built with as many as 6 minarets! The construction of this magnificent structure was intended, among other things, to overshadow a building standing opposite, the almost 1,000 years older Christian Temple of Divine Wisdom – Hagia Sophia. After leaving the strict centre, we’ll delve into the narrow streets of the Grand Bazaar, a mediaeval hypermarket, where you can buy almost everything from cashmere shawls, sweet baklava to aromatic herbs and spices. We’ll sink into the hustle and bustle of Turkish culture, so steeped in traditions of commerce, joie de vivre and hospitality – we’ll also be treated to some Turkish delicacies ourselves….
During this 2.5 hour tour you will learn about Istanbul’s history, Turkish culture and have a chance to taste some Turkish delicacies. Among other things, we will see:
Please note that during the tour we will enter mosques, remember about the appropriate dress code – shoulders and knees should be covered, and in the case of women also the head. Make sure you take a scarf, an extra blouse or shirt with you.
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