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    Culture, Shopping

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Description 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.

What we will see
  • Süleymaniye Mosque
  • Chora Museum
  • Pierre Loti Café
  • Spice bazaar

What we will do
  • 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.

What you need 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.