Spirit of Istanbul

Cultural Tour
About The Tour
With our Spirit of Istanbul tour program, you'll have the chance to explore the historic city of Istanbul by visiting all the must-see locations.  
Day 1 Old Town Istanbul
Arrive at the Airport, meet your guide, and set off to the Old Town of Istanbul (a 90-minute drive), the historic center in which some parts of has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Topkapı Palace, a city palace that housed all the Ottoman sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries; it consists of three courtyards, terraces with astonishing views, and precious collections. Have lunch at around 1 -2 pm. In the afternoon, visit Sultan Ahmet Square, the German Fountain, the Hippodrome, the Million Stone, and the magnificent Hagia Sophia. Constructed as a Christian church during the sixth century, this Church of the Holy Wisdom served as the mother church of the Orthodox religion for more than 1,000 years. When you are in the sanctuary, please don't forget to admire its immense vaulted ceiling that soars above the four arches on which it rests. Visit Sultan Ahmet Mosque, known as Blue Mosque. It is an Ottoman-era historical imperial mosque which interior walls adorned with fascinating hand-painted blue tiles, and it is just opposite Hagia Sophia, about a 5-minute walking distance. Discover Grand Bazaar, one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets; this remarkable shopping complex dates back more than 550 years. It houses over 4000 shops across 58 streets and is regularly visited by travelers and locals alike. Free time to enjoy strolling in Egyptian Market, also known as Spice Market. The daily tour finishes at Galata bridge. Transfer to your hotel. Overnight Istanbul.  
Day 2 Bosphorus Boat Tour
Breakfast in the hotel, meet your guide in the lobby at 9:00 am and set off for an approximately 30-minute drive to Eminönü. Bosphorus Tour's boat departure time is at 10:20 am. You'll get a panoramic view of the Bosphorus, the waterway which separates Istanbul into two parts, the European continent and the Asian continent. During the Bosphorus cruise, you'll see Dolmabahçe Palace's ornated seaside entrance gate, which the sultans used. Maiden tower, Çırağan Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, the fortress of Rumelihisarı, and old wooden villas (called Yalı) along the seaside are some of the pearl grains adorning the strait which joins Marmara and the Black Sea. "Yalı" s served as the summer residence for distinguished citizens, grand viziers, and Paşas starting from the end of the 17th century. Yalıs were built with the inspiration of baroque, art nouveau, and modern styles of architecture and typically painted rust red, a color known as Ottoman rose. The boat trip will take approximately 90 minutes. You will have two hours in a cozy fisherman village called Kavak to walk around and have lunch. This pretty village is well known for fried mussels and fish restaurants. Take the boat, and our trip will end at Eminönü. Transfer to your hotel. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 3 Dolmabahce Palace - Taksim Square & Istiklal Street
Kindly note that group visit's to Dolmabahçe Palace is organized by reservation; according to our reservation schedule, the morning program might switch to the afternoon program.
Breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide in the lobby, and set off for an approximately 30-minute drive to Dolmabahçe Palace, an ornate blend of European and Ottoman architecture that rests along the banks overlooking the Bosphorus Strait. The Armenian architect Balyan family built the palace in the 19th century. Discover eye-popping rooms that once hosted sultans and their royal guests, stroll into pristine marble rooms, and gaze up at twinkling crystal chandeliers. All the clocks in the palace were set at 9:05 am, the exact time of the death of the first president of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who passed away on the 10th of November 1938 in this palace. Arrive at Taksim Square, the city's heart,  and have lunch. In the afternoon, discover the Beyoğlu district where during the Ottoman period, Jews from Spain, Arabs, Greek, and Armenians settled in communities. The pedestrian street, Istiklal Street, once known as Grande Rue de Pera, is lined by late 19th-century apartment blocks and European embassy buildings. It's an impressive variety of grandiose gates and façades with art deco and modern architectural styles. While getting around, you'll see many churches, mosques, the Fish Market, the Mevlevi Lodge, art galleries, cafés, bookstores, shops selling handicrafts, and jazz bars. An old-fashioned tram travels the length of Istiklal Street. The daily tour will end in front of the Tunnel, the underground funicular system. The Tunnel is the world's second-oldest extant subterranean urban rail line; a French engineer, Eugène-Henri Gavand, constructed it. Construction began in the summer of 1871 and was completed in 1874. Transfer to your hotel. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 4 Byzantine Tour Along the Golden Horn - "Cibali - Fener and Balat" The Old Greek and Jewish Neighborhoods
Have breakfast, meet your guide in the lobby, and set off for an approximately 30-minute drive to an old neighborhood called Cibali. Cibali was a trade center, and its harbor had a flourishing business life thanks to the Ottoman warehouses and caulkers along the Golden Horn. The Cibali Tobacco Factory, founded in 1884, was an important institution that changed the neighborhood socially and economically. The building with the elegant façade has served as Kadir Has University campus since 2002. Visit the Rezan Has Museum, enriched by documents and objects belonging to Cibali Tobacco and Cigarette Factory. The museum site connects the past to the future with its Byzantine cistern, dated the 11th century to its Ottoman structure style, dated the 17th century. You'll realize the importance of the cisterns, the water reservoirs made of stone, which were used to meet the water requirements of Istanbul in the Byzantine period. The cistern under the museum was used as the tobacco warehouse of the cigarette factory. After the visit to the museum, our walking tour of Fener & Balat starts. Balat was home to Greek-speaking Jews from the Byzantine era; Sephardic Jews from Spain joined them in the 15th century. Fener became a Greek enclave in the early 16th century. There are several important churches and mosques in the district. You'll see Teodosya Church which was converted into a mosque and have the name Gül Cami as it was ornate with roses. Visit the Ecumenical Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which has a basilica-style church dating back to 1720. Yet the church contains much older relics and furniture. To give you an idea, the Patriarch's throne is considered Byzantine. Lunch in Balat. In the afternoon, visit the Church of St Mary of the Mongols (Kanlı Kilise), the only Greek Orthodox church in Istanbul which remained continuously in the hands of the Greek community since the Byzantine era. Another district symbol is the imposing Greek Orthodox High School in red bricks. The daily tour will end after the visit to the Church of St Stephen of the Bulgars; the entire church, internal columns, and galleries included were cast in iron in 1871 and shipped from Vienna to the Golden Horn coast, where it was assembled. Transfer to your hotel. Overnight Istanbul.  
Day 5 Gülhane Park & Archeological Museum & Theodosius Cistern (Şerefiye sarnıcı) & Süleymaniye Mosque
Have breakfast, meet your guide in the lobby, and set off for an approximately 30-minute drive to the Old Town of Istanbul. Your first stop will be Gülhane Park which was once part of the outer garden of Topkapı Palace and mainly consisted of a grove. It is one of the oldest and largest urban parks in Istanbul. Have a pleasant morning walk to the Archeological Museum, where you can find a nice collection of about one million objects belonging to different civilizations. Visit the Caferağa Medrese, built in 1559 by the imperial architect Mimar Sinan during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. The medrese was transformed by the Turkish Cultural Service Foundation into a tourist center with classrooms, exhibition rooms, and a garden where traditional Turkish handicrafts such as calligraphy, ceramics, and jewelry are made and sold. Have lunch, and in the afternoon, visit Theodosius Cistern, which Roman Emperor Theodosius II built between 428 and 443 to store water supplied by the Valens Aqueduct. The cistern is about 45 by 25 meters (148 by 82 ft), and the roof is supported by 32 marble columns about 9 meters (30 ft) high. Arrive at Beyazıt Square, officially named Freedom Square, but is known as Beyazıt Square after the Bayezid II Mosque on one side of it. The Square is the former site of the Forum of Theodosius, built by Constantine the Great. On one side of the Square is the main entrance of Istanbul University; the Beyazıt Tower is the university's campus and can be seen from the court. The daily tour ends at Süleymaniye Mosque, an Ottoman imperial mosque on the Third Hill of Istanbul. The mosque was commissioned by Süleyman the Magnificent and designed by the imperial architect Mimar Sinan. Transfer to your hotel.  
Day 6 Princes’s Island - Burgazada
One of the great joys of spring and summertime in Istanbul is the chance to get away for a day to one of the Princes' Islands, the car-free and forested archipelago that is a short ferry ride away from the city. Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to Kabataş pier. Take the local boat to Burgazada. Short walking tour in the city center. Reach the Kalpazankaya Restaurant, open-air meyhane on the island's backside, by a pleasant walk along the pine trees. Splendid isolation on a hillside overlooking the blue waters of the Sea of Marmara and a small pebble beach below where you may enjoy swimming. We recommend you taste the delicious mezze and meals. The restaurant serves up a wide variety of fresh fish, either grilled or fried, and different kebabs and meats, including the house specialty: lamb slow-roasted in a clay oven. Back to the center, take the local boat to Kabataş pier, end transfer to your hotel.     
Day 7 Yedikule & Samatya Along The City Walls
Breakfast at the hotel and meet your guide in the lobby. set off to Theodosian Walls and the Yedikule Fortress. Istanbul's Theodosian Walls are one of the city's most impressive Byzantine past remains. Pierced by monumental gates and strengthened by towers, they encompass the city center in a great arc, stretching from Yedikule, on the Sea of Marmara, to Ayvansaray, on the Golden Horn. With its 11 fortified gates and 192 towers, this great chain of double walls sealed Constantinople's landward side against invasion for more than a thousand years. The walls were built during the reign of Theodosius II, in AD 412–22. The walls resisted sieges by Arabs, Bulgarians, Russians, and Turks. Mehmet the Conqueror finally breached the walls in May 1453. Yedikule, the "Fortress of the Seven Towers," is built on the southern section of the Theodosian Walls. Some places to visit are the Church of St John of Studios (Imrahor Cami), one of the oldest surviving churches in Istanbul, built by Studius, a Roman patrician who served as consul during the reign of Emperor Marcian. The church housed a university and was converted into a mosque in the 15th century. This building is the church of St. John the Prodromos (John the Baptist), part of the Studios Monastery, founded by the Eastern Consul Studios in 454. Sulu Monastery (Surp Kevork Church), the second oldest Armenian Patriarchate and Surp Hovhannes Church. Have lunch in Samatya and some of the places to visit; Haghios Konstantinos and Helene Church (Karamanlılar Church), built in the name of Constantine I and his mother, Helene. The Greeks created the church, which spoke Turkish but wrote with the Greek alphabet, coming from Konya Karaman. Shrine of Zoodochus Pege (Balıklı Kilise). The Fountain of Zoodochus Pege ("Life-Giving Spring") is built over Istanbul's most famous sacred spring, which is believed to have miraculous powers. The spring was probably the site of an ancient sanctuary of Artemis. The church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built around it. Various Byzantine emperors destroyed and rebuilt the church over the years, and the existing one dates from 1833. The inner courtyard is filled with tombs of bishops and patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church. Transfer to the Airport.

Spirit of Istanbul

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