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In a nutshell Let us visit some of the most important places in Istanbul, gems that often remain hidden to passing tourists but encapsulate the local history and traditions.

Main stops
  • Süleymaniye Mosque
  • Chora Museum
  • Pierre Loti Café
  • Spice bazaar

The programme
  • The excursion takes place in small groups to explore some of the gems that passing visitors usually do not have enough time to see.
  • First of all, we have the famous Süleymaniye Mosque, an Ottoman Imperial Mosque and therefore an important symbol in the history of Turkey.
  • A building of historic, artistic and political relevance, the Mosque is a huge complex located on the sixth hill in Istanbul that plunges into the Golden Horn.
  • At the time of its construction, which dates back to the mid-16th century, it boasted the highest dome above the sea level, although it is lower than the Hagia Sophia starting from the base.
  • Over the centuries, it has been damaged several times by fires and an earthquake and, after various conservation works and two extensive restoration campaigns - one of which took place in recent years - the Mosque was finally reopened to the public in 2010 despite some work still going on in the courtyard.
  • The interior of the Mosque is characterised by exceptional acoustics and simple yet elegant decorations enriched with majolica tiles and stained glass windows that contribute to conveying a sensation of lightness and openness.
  • The Mosque cemetery is home to the grave of Suleiman the Magnificent.
  • After visiting the Mosque, we continue with the Chora Museum located next to the city’s ancient walls.
  • The building, considered one of the main examples of Byzantine architecture still in existence, boasts a long and complex history and was restored and rebuilt many times.
  • Originally an Orthodox church, it was converted into a mosque in the early 16th century by the Ottomans and became a national museum midway through the past century.
  • The mosaics and frescoes that cover the ceiling and walls date back to the early 14th century and illustrate the life of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ - an excellent example of Byzantine Renaissance.
  • Before returning to the port, we enjoy a relaxing tea break at the Pierre Loti Café - a popular place offering spectacular views over the Golden Horn.
  • The bar, which is famous precisely due to its panoramic location, was named after a French writer and sailor that usually stopped off here and fell in love with the city so much that it provided the inspiration for his first book: Aziyade.
  • After a relaxing break, spend admiring enchanting views, the coach takes us to the last stop on our excursion, the Spice Market where we are surrounded by a myriad of colours and aromas and remain enchanted by the local customs and traditions.

Good to know
  • This excursion is carried out in small groups and requires a minimum number of participants to operate.
  • The excursion duration may vary depending on traffic conditions.
  • You must remove your shoes when visiting the Süleymaniye Mosque.
  • Dress code that is appropriate for the places of worship to be visited is recommended.
  • Should the Süleymaniye Mosque be closed, we will visit another historic Mosque.
  • The excursion involves walks on uneven ground.
  • The tour depends on the sights being open to the public during religious holidays such as the month of Ramadan.
  • The Grand Bazaar and Spice Markets are closed on national holidays and during religious festivities.
  • The Blue Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque and New Mosque are closed Friday mornings until 2.30 pm.