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HALF DAY in GALATA, BEYOGLU, PERA

Chora Museum – Galata Tower – A French Style Street in Beyoglu – İstiklal Street

Price      : 75 Euro (includes transportation, guidance, all museum entrances and all taxes.)

* Minimum 10 attendants are required. Otherwise tour program will be cancelled.

Chora Museum
Located to the city walls at Edirne Kapı. The mosaics and frescoes for which it is famous were designed and executed between 1315 and 1321.
 
Kariye (Chora) Museum originally formed the center of a Byzantine monastery complex. Only the church section, which was dedicated to Jesus Christ the Savior, has survived. After the arrival of the Turks in Istanbul, this building, like the Hagia Sophia, was converted into a mosque. In 1948 it was made a museum leaving no Islamic element in the building except the 19C minaret outside in the corner.
 
"Kariye" is the Turkish adaptation of an ancient Greek word "Chora" which refers to countryside. Considering the perimeter of the walls of Constantine (4C AD) the building was located out of the city. If this theory is correct Chora Monastery should have been from the 4C. But unfortunately according to sources, the existence of Chora Monastery before the 8C is not certain.

Galata Tower
Begin the days you will spend in İstanbul by visiting Galata Tower. Enjoy the dreamlike panorama of this giant city, whose not only showy but also clearly spread topography is below your feet, rails: The mosques and minarets of the Topkapı Palace are rising above the hills of the old city, right across you. In front of it is the natural bay formed by Golden Horn, embracing with the Sea of Marmara; and in the horizon, The Princes’ Isles hardly visible in the mist. On the left, across the Bosphorus Kadıköy and Üsküdar can be recognized, if you look to the bridge that connects Europe and Asia. The distant  whistles of the ferries mix into each other. You will begin to notice how unique İstanbul is due to the calming view of Galata Tower. There is probably no visitor who wouldn’t be eager to know about this extraordinary city, to feel it and to see the secret corners of its life.

Beyoglu and İstiklal Street
A major street which links off Taksim Square offers a combination of modern and authentic shopping. You will find many cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and religious sights on İstiklal Street. A perfect place to spend a few hours in the afternoon.
 

FULL DAY OLD CITY

Blue Mosque – Hippodrome – Hagia Sophia Museum – Topkapı Palace

Price      : 95 Euro (includes transportation, guidance, all museum entrances, lunch and all taxes.)

* Minimum 10 attendants are required. Otherwise tour program will be cancelled.

Blue Mosque
Sultan Ahmet Camii is the sign of İstanbul and the favourite of Muslims tourists: It is the biggest mosque of the city with its six minarets and called “The Blue Mosque” because of its tile decoration. The Blue Mosque, built on a high hill at the shore of the Sea of Marmara across Hagia Sophia, has domes that symetrically widen in all directions with three stories. The interior of the building is in great unity and simplicity, such as the exterior. The blue and white of more than 20.000 İznik tiles are in a perfect harmony with golden manuscripts of Koran and the red of the carpets. The giant area (51m by 53) is full of light but also in a mystic darkness owing to its more than 260 windows, mostly coloured. The Blue Mosque, completed in 1616, is the example of the last point the Ottoman Architecture reached. The Empire began loosing power in the following years.

Hippodrome
Its construction began in 203 by Septimus Severus as the hippodrome it was reconstructed the during the reign of Constantine the Great (324 – 337) It was a place for official celebrations and parades. Besides chariot races, circuses and political meetings used to take place here. In one of them “Blues” and “Greens” had fought, and in Nika Revolt in 532, 30.000 people that rebelled against Emperor Justinianus gathered and were killed here in At Meydanı.
 
Again on these grounds, Sultan Mahmut II killed the Janissaries that rebelled in 1826. The square was 400 m long and 120 m wide. There were 40 rows that could totally host 100.000 spectators. The central axis of the arena is determined by three status. The first of them is the Egyptian Obelisk that had already been 1900 years old when it was brought from Karnak, was erected here in 390 after broken apart from its base. The original weight of the stone was three times more than its present weight that is 800 tons. The Emperor Theodosius and his family. Column (it is better to say ‘the rest of the column’) from Temple of Apollo at Delphi; one of the missing serpent heads was found and kept in Archaeological Museum. The last statue in the arena, Colossus, is not in its original condition. The horsemen of the Fourth Crusade had removed the gold plated bronze panels of the column and took it to Venice with the famaous carriage quartet statue of Lysippos that was also made of bronze plated with gold. The four antique horses are on the west gate of San Marco Church since then.

Hagia Sophia
Built on a hill in the centre of Old Byzantine, has a perfect appearance from the sea. Emperor Justinianus demanded a new church to be built in a short time after the one before Hagia Sophia had collapsed in 532. After the construction had been planned and ready to begin, Justinianus appointed the mathematician Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus expert  and an architect. Hagia Sophia became the most powerful and respected church of Christianity over 1.000 years. It was considered to symbolize the thought peculiar to Rome and the understanding of God in Christianity. When the construction of the church completed in a short time, in six years (532 – 537), “Solomon, now I am superior to you” Justinuanus shouted against the appearance of the church.
 
The breathtaking fact is the brilliant unity in the interior classification of Hagia Sophia the visitors, as well as the splendid design with marble panels and mosaic ornaments; so that the church is called “The Eight Wonder of the World” It is almost imposible to have an idea about the size and proportions the building when you pass through the “Emperor’s Gate” that gives a sight area up to the dome in terms of width  and height. This extraordinary situation that the builders intended to realize stems from the structure of the place, the feeling that the dome is “as if hangin down the sky” and the light that is coming in directly or conditions when it was built, ther is no doubt that Haghia Sophia was the bravest construction that had ever been built since then.
 
When it was built, Haghia Sophia was decorated with pictures similar to the ones in St. Vitale Church in Ravenna, apart from the gold and mosaics. The panthocrator medal replaced the cross symbolizing peace at the far. Alsa are the mosaics of  Virgin Mary on the abscissa and the side attractive is the one showing Jesus Baptist in Deesis (the last judgement) from the  12th or 13th century. The Venetian Duke Enrico Dandolo, the commander of the 1294 Crusade army that plundered everything he had come across with, wass added across the mosaic. Fatih Sultan Mehmet thinks “how temporary the life is” when climbed up the dome and saw the ruined annexes the next day he conquered İstanbul. It must the top of victory, though younger had seen five sultans. It had been the main mosque until turned to be a museum in 1934.

Topkapı Palace
The famous Ottoman historian Evliya Celebi describes the Topkapı Palace, as “the loveliest sultane palace that human skill could have created.” One can not help doing anything but ruling if living in here! If you can come out of this complex game that is made of terraces, corridors, stairs and interior courts; you can find yourself in the world of Arabian Nights again. The palaca once Ottoman Sultans lived is visited by thousands of visitors from all parts of the world, isthe most splendid monument of İstanbul.
 
The palace had a concept peculiar to the East, accommodating several qualities in it: The residence of the Sultan and the centre of a world empire, the religious centre of half of the world and the stage that incredible intrigues displayed, the focus of cruel murders and the cradle of breathtaking successes. Once, 4.000 – 5.000 people used to live in Topkapı Palace. This was a citiy in the city. Fatih Sultan Mehmet decided to have avast palace built to the ridges of old Byzantium Acropolis. The reason Sultan Mehmet chose this place was not only the beauty of the ridges. He was planning to have a residential fortress built where İstanbul could be protected best. A high city wall, extending from Golden Horn as far as the Sea of Marmara, separating Topkapı Palace from the rest of the city. The Byzantium walls, beginning from the corner of the palace and stretching to Theodosian Walls through the shores of Marmara were protective against a possible sea attack.
 
Topkapı Palace on the other hand, does not have a threatening look despite all those walls, towers and gates. Little pavilions, Turkish Baths, workshops, mosques and libraries... The palace complex is divided into strictly separated sections in order to suit its dual status; as the residence of Sultan and the administrative centre of Ottoman Empire.

Grand Bazaar
Almost a city; founded on 50 streets on an area of 1,336 m2, with 4,400 shops, 40 inns, mosques, mescits (small mosques), 19 Turkish Baths and fountains, workshops, coffee-houses and pudding shops. There are four gates of the market built in Ottoman architecture style: Takkeciler, Sahaflar, Zenneciler and Kuyumcular. The main streets are Çadırcılar, Yorgancılar, Fesçiler, Kalpakçılar, Keseciler, Takkeciler and Nuruosmaniye. As the Turkish names point out, once all kinds of goods were –and actually still is- solid here. It is safer, since it is a covered area, hence has been an ideal place for the shops selling valuables. Everything can be found from the souvenirs to copper, jewellery to leather, garments to carpets and kilims, wooden objects to antiquity, tile to glassware, nostalgic accessories, coffee shops to Turkish delight shops.
 
“An extraordinary beehive composed of shops” Mark Twain described Kapalı Çarşı. Only 2,000 of the 4,000 shops are jewellery shops. It is not difficult – but beneficial in fact- to get lost in the biggest covered market of the world, despite of its systematic plan divided into rectangular. The 15 domed Bedesten, rising on columns in the middle of Kapalı Çarşı, was built during Fatih Sultan Mehmet period. Yenipazar surrounding it was built in the 16th century. The streets are seperated according to the professions Eski Pazar (the Old Bedesten) is full of antiquities that are genuine or good imitations. Silk, cotton, satin and synthetic fabrics can be found in the north-west of the market, spread in more than 60 streets.
 

HALF DAY in SULTANAHMET / OLD CITY

Süleymaniye Mosque – Yerebatan Basilica – Spice Market

Price      : 75 Euro (includes transportation, guidance, all museum entrances and all taxes.)

* Minimum 10 attendants are required. Otherwise tour program will be cancelled.

Süleymaniye Mosque
The Ottoman Empire was a dominant power all over the world during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificient (Kanuni Sultan Süleyman); this period is naturally accepted as the peak of Turkish history. In Sinan, the sultan found an architect at the same intelligence level with himself. The mosque, built between 1550 – 1557 brings such a beauty to the atmosphere of the city, no other building can. As the best example of Ottoman classicism in İstanbul: only The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, “the mastery work” of Sinan that was built when he was old can be superior to The Süleymaniye in terms of perfection . In his autobiography, Sinan says that Hagia Sophia had accompanied to him as a criterion until the last building he build; he wanted to show that he “could do better than the Greeks.” Indeed, he showed he was superior to the architects of Justinianus with The Süleymaniye. The architecture of the mosque is apparent, the four piers are not hidden as they ar in Hagia Sophia. The dome is carried by four piers that get sharper upwards, thus giving this well-proportioned structure a weight that is “as light as feather” The sharp vaults, made of dark red granite brought from Balbek and At Meydanı (Hippodrome), takes the main area to the side ones, and the semi domes over the mihrap –the niche indicating the direction of the Mecca- and the entrance in perfect harmony with the side domes, removing the feeling of limitation.
 
The light comes through windows, over 130 width valuable glass, from all directions. The perfect static of the mosque, with its 49,50m height and the dome that has a 26,20m diameter, indicates that it has not been damaged after all the earthquakes it experienced. The heaped dome system presents a wonderful view qhen looked outside. The mosque standing on the hills with great majesty can be watched especially from the Galata Bridge and the Bosphorus with a great taste. The four minarets with ten balconies in total are the symbols for Sultan Süleyma, the tenth sulton of the Ottoman Empire and the fourth sultan to rule in İstanbul. Sinan had build two of the minarets shorter than the others; a perfect invention to show the building more harmonious with the slope of the hill.

Yerebatan Basilica
Across Haghia Sophia, Yerebatan Basilica was built as an underground cistern in the 6th century. Its 136 columns in total are arreyed in 12 rows of 28 cach. The capitals of the columns have Corinthian and early Byzantine qualities. Two fine Medusa heads were revealed during the carefully made restorations in this cistern that is the biggest and the only one open to visitors among the 70 cisterns in the city.



Spice Market
A considerable part of the Yeni Camii Complex is the Spice Market (Mısır Çarşısı) . The name originates from the fact that the market was originally endowed with the Cairo imposts, especially the spices. Altough the number has dereased recently, the majority of the too shops in the market are traditional spice or meze shops. The flower market , fish market, cheese shops and green groccers also take part in the market. You can taste and buy different kind of cheese from the various parts of Turkey, traditional Turkish Delight, spice and coffee, the fruits and desserts you have never tried such as date, dried fig, oleaster, kus uzumu, lokma, baklava and tulumba here.

 

HALF DAY in BOSPHORUS

Bosphorus Cruise

Price      : 75 Euro (includes transportation, guidance, private boat and all taxes.)

* Minimum 10 attendants are required. Otherwise tour program will be cancelled.

No stay in İstanbul is complete without the traditional and memorable cruise on the Bosphorus. The natural beauty of the Bosphorus has been praised ever since people have been living on its shores. This famaous sea strait has inspired and excited people over the centuries. During a leisurely cruise along the European and the Asian shore, you will have plenty of opportunity to sit back, relax and admire the many interesting buildings on both shores. Private, waterfront wooden villas, which originally belonged to prominent Ottoman families, fortresses built by Mehmet the Conqueror and palaces where the sultans used to live, are all part of the unique character of the Bosphorus.