Byzantine Heritage & Bazaars (IST - 15) Full Day

ISTANBUL - Hagia Sofia You begin your excursion with a sightseeing drive through the business centre of the modern city, across the Galata Bridge, along the banks you reach reach the Orthodox Patriarchate where you will visit the Church of St. George. Next you continue to the Kariye Museum, once the 11th century Church of St Saviour in Chora. It was repaired in the Period of Commenses and Palaiologuses, and is considered to be the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul after Hagia Sofia. Whilst unremarkable in its architecture, the interior walls of the church are decorated with impressive 14th century mosaics, which portray scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. These brilliantly coloured paintings embody the vigour of Byzantine art.

Continue your tour with the “Misir Carsisi”, the  Spice Market (Egyptian Bazaar) The bazaar was (and still is) the center for the spice trade, and many spices used to be imported from Egypt in the past. On the other hand, in the Byzintine time the site of the Spice Bazaar was the centre of corn trade. And the word mısır has a double meaning in Turkish: "Egypt” and "corn". Before you continue your tour you will have some free time in the bazaar and for lunch.

Continue around the mighty city walls, which once protected Istanbul from the many invasions and attacks it suffered over the centuries. 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. The beautiful mosaics were covered with plaster, and have slowly been uncovered.

Your last stop will be at the worldwide famous Grand Bazaar. During the tour you will have the opportunity to get a cultural taste of Turkey by enjoying an exhibition of oriental carpets, jewelry and leather goods.