Sultanahmet Square (IST - 13) Half Day

ISTANBUL - Sultanahmet Square You begin your excursion with a sightseeing drive through the business centre of the modern city. Continue around the mighty city walls, which once protected Istanbul from the many invasions and attacks it suffered over the centuries. You first visit will be to Sultanahmet Mosque, where large groups of pilgrims start their pilgrimage to Mecca. The Mosque is decorated with 21.000 blue Iznik tiles from where it gets its name, the “Blue Mosque.

Walk to the world famous monument of Haghia Sofia the Byzantine Church of Divine Wisdom. One of the most historically important monuments, built as a grand cathedral in the 4th century by Constantius – the successor to Constantine the Great – it was dedicated to Divine Wisdom (an attribute of Christ). It was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul and today is used as a museum. The building has survived various earthquakes and fires during its lifetime, and is surpassed in size only by St Peter’s in Rome and St Paul’s in London. Fatih Sultan Mehmet added the four minarets after his conquest of Istanbul.

Proceed to the Basilica Cistern, a huge underground reservoir built in 532 AD. The cistern is located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul next to the Hagia Sofia. It is surrounded by a firebrick wall with a thickness of four metres and coated with a special mortar for waterproofing. The cistern’s water was provided from the Belgrade Woods, which lie 19 kilometres north of the city – via aqueducts built by the emperor Justinian. The tour will end in Sultanahmet with the option to return to ship or the opportunity to get a cultural taste of Turkey by enjoying an exhibition of oriental carpets, jewelry and leather goods.