GETAWAYS: The Capital of Three Empires

Tour Code :PER041GAW
City :ISTANBUL
Tour Name :The Capital of Three Empires
Tour Dates :ARRIVE ANY DAY
Duration :4 Nights | 5 Days
Available Languages :EN

ROMAN, BYZANTINE AND OTTOMAN HERITAGE

Being the capital of the three successive empires, with more than 2500 years history, Istanbul shows off in every possible way. The stunning blue turquoise water fronts will keep inviting you and coming back to the city. Positioned on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Istanbul is the only city in the world span on two continents and totally diverse and extremely beautiful.

DAY 1 | ISTANBUL | 4 Nights

ARRIVAL | Transfer from Ataturk Airport to the hotel / upon request

Arrival at Ataturk International airport and (optional) meet and greet and be transfer to the hotel along the Sea of Marmara with orientation en-route (according to traffic, from 30 to 45 minutes…). The panorama of the seaside transfer road is really beautiful: drive along the Sea of Marmara, where hundreds of cargo ships anchor, waiting to sail through the straits of the Bosphorus. The shoreline is made up of a series of gardens and tea-houses. Arrival at the hotel, accommodation and overnight.

Meal (s): no meals 
Hotel (s): ST, FC, SF* (see the hotel class key below)

DAY 2 | ISTANBUL

HIPPODROME, HAGIA SOPHIA, BLUE MOSQUE, GRAND BAZAAR, TOPKAPI PALACE, LITTLE HAGIA SOPHIA MOSQUE

Breakfast at the hotel, pick up from the lobby for a full day tour.

This tour covers the main sites, which belong both to Byzantine & Ottoman Empire periods and are located around Sultanahmet Square, the former Imperial Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, which once could hold 100.000 spectators and features objects from all corners of the Empire.
Stroll around this witness of the bygone epochs and see the impressive granite Obelisk of Theodosius carved in Egypt around 1450 BC; so-called Serpentine Column, the three intertwined bronze serpents form the column; the Colossus or the column of Constantine Porphyrgenitus; the German Fountain or Fountain of Kaiser Wilhelm II that commemorates the alliance of German Empire and Ottoman Empire against the allied powers of Russia, Great Britain, France and Japan before the World War I.

Later, visit Hagia Sophia Cathedral Museum (closed on Mon between end Oct & beginning Apr), the church of Holy Wisdom, which is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest architectural creations in the world. Nowhere is Istanbul's exceptional status as former capital of both the Christian and Islamic empires more evident than in this monumental basilica crowned with four minarets. Built by the Emperor Justinian circa AD 535, it was converted to a mosque by the conquering Ottoman armies in 1453. But it's only when you enter the building that you get a true sense of its awesome proportions. For a thousand years its dome was the largest in the world - 30 m in diameter, surpassed only in the 16th century with the construction of St Peter's in Rome.

Directly facing Hagia Sophia, rises another architectural masterpiece, the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet or better known as Blue Mosque (closed on Fri until 2 pm), perhaps the most instantly recognizable - and unforgettable - silhouette on Istanbul's skyline. It was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 1600s to rival the grand old lady of Christianity. Peek inside to see the wall-to-wall over 20,000 glazed blue porcelain Iznik tiles, predominantly in shades of blue, that have given the mosque its popular name.
Then, spend some time on the Istanbul’s legendary Grand Covered Bazaar (closed on Sun), a labyrinth of over 4,000 little shops, occupying 30.7 hectares. It is everything one dreams an oriental market could be and indeed one of the most fascinating and irresistible attractions of Istanbul. Established by Mehmet the Conqueror in mid-15th century, it is a small city in itself. Its shops are full of treasures – including carpets and kilims, silks, jewellery, ceramics, icons, and leather goods.

After having lunch at one of the local restaurants
Continue your tour day and visit Topkapi Palace (closed on Tue), the Great Palace of the Ottoman Sultans and the most extensive and fascinating monument of Ottoman civil architecture in existence. In addition to its architectural and historical interest, it contains as a museum, superb and unrivalled collections of porcelains, armour, fabrics, jewels, illuminated manuscripts, calligraphy and many objects of art formerly belonging to the Sultans. Topkapi was built between 1459 and 1465 as the seat of government of the newly installed Ottoman regime. The palace is not a single building but a series of graceful interconnecting courtyards. One of the highlights of the museum is the Imperial Treasury.

Later, see Little Hagia Sophia Mosque, formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus, is a former Eastern Orthodox Church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Return to the hotel for overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 3 | ISTANBUL

DOLMABAHCE PALACE, YILDIZ ROYAL GARDEN, BYZANTINE WALLS, GOLDEN HORN, CABLE CAR RIDE, BOSPHORUS CRUISE

Breakfast at the hotel; pick-up from the hotel lobby and first visit will be to the Dolmabahçe Palace Museum (closed on Mon & Thu), the 19th century baroque residence of the last Sultans of the Ottoman Empire and the place where Ataturk - Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the Turkish Republic died in 1938. It is the largest and grandest by far of the imperial palaces on the Bosphorus, beautifully situated, with a 600 m frontage on the strait, an impressive ballroom and ornate Victorian furniture embodying the Turkish assimilation of European culture. All in all, there are a total of 285 rooms, 43 large salons, and six hamams on three stories.

Next, visit Yildiz Royal Garden, a nice oxygen break from the noise and rat-race of the city. Take a walk in the imperial gardens ornamented with some kioks and beautiful vegetation in the middle of Istanbul. Witness the beauty of Yıldız Royal Garden as reminder of the formidable Ottoman Empire.
Before lunch you will have some time for shopping. 

Lunch will be provided at one of the local restaurants during the tour. 
Then, drive along the coast line of the Golden Horn, the arm of the Bosphorus and a natural harbour of the historical peninsula separating the old and the new parts of İstanbul where the first colonies settled during the Byzantines; the residential area for Byzantine Jews, Italian traders and other non-Muslim minorities.
In Eyup district take a cable car (teleferik) up to the top of the hill where a famous Pierre Loti Café is situated at Sultan Cemetery near the Eyüp Mosque, offers a commanding view of the Golden Horn and the Istanbul Skyline. It takes its name from the famous French novelist and naval officer Pierre Loti. 
Embark on board at the nearest pier to take a Bosphorus Cruise between the Continents - (1 - 1,5 hrs). One of the world’s most eulogized stretches of water, the Bosphorus is a source of pride for Istanbul’s residents and of admiration for its visitors. The 30-km strait divides Europe and Asia and connects the Marmara and Black Seas (only way in/out to/from Black Sea) is one of the city highlights. The Bosphorus has, for all ages, been the subject of legend and art. A striking feature of Istanbul, the Bosphorus coast is lined by “yalıs” (old Ottoman wooden residences) flirting with the sea each with a tale of their own, marble palaces, sultans’ summer residences, gardens etc. The cruise will provide a taste of the Bosphorus that won’t leave your buds for a long time to come. Return to the hotel for overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 4 | ISTANBUL

AFTERNOON TOUR OF ASIAN SIDE | BEYLERBEYI PALACE AND CAMLICA HILL

Breakfast at the hotel and spend morning at leisure exploring bazaars and shops of Istanbul.

Early afternoon, join a tour and drive to the Asian part of Istanbul over the Intercontinental Bosphorus Bridge, one of the two bridges in Istanbul, spanning the Bosphorus strait and thus connecting Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus Bridge had the 4th longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1973, and the longest outside the United States. At present, it is the 19th longest suspension bridge span in the world.
While on the Asia Side, enjoy an absolutely magnificent site of the whole city from the Çamlica Hill, the highest natural point in Istanbul, at about 267 meters above sea level. The panorama around embraces the Bosphorus almost as far as the Black Sea, the Marmara Sea with the Princes Islands, and behind that, the great snow covered ridge of Mt.Uludag, the Bithynian Olympus.
Then, visit Beylerbeyi Palace (closed Mon & Thu), a restored palace of the late Ottoman sultans, built on the Asian side in 1861-65 of white marble to host Princess Eugenie (Napoleon III ‘wife) on her long visit in Constantinople. Later it was used mainly as a summer lodge and as a Residence for visiting dignitaries including Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, the Shah of Persia, King Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson of England. In recent years the palace has been splendidly restored, one can admire the elaborate furniture and decoration as Hereke silk carpets, Bohemian crystal chandeliers, French clocks, vases from China and some superb murals. Return to the hotel for overnight 

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast

DAY 5 | ISTANBUL | ...

DEPARTURE | Transfer to Ataturk Intl airport / upon request

Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Ataturk Intl airport (optional)

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast

INCLUDES

- Transportation by fully air-conditioned, non-smoking vehicle on the tours
- Professional English-speaking tour guide on the tours
- Entrance fees to the museums featured on the itinerary
- 4 nights of accommodation at the featured hotels or similar with a buffet breakfast daily
- 2 lunches at the local Turkish restaurants during the tours (all drinks are excluded)

EXCLUDES

- Any personal expenses
- Meals unless specified above and any kind of drinks except for tea/coffee/juice during breakfast
- Airport Transfers on the first & the last day of the trip
- Tips and gratuities
- Optional activities costs
- Turkish visa fee
- Travel and Health insurance

NOTES

Airport Transfers
Pera-Kaktüs Travel pleased to offer complimentary airport transfers at any time either on the first or last day of the holiday or on other days in conjunction with pre- and post-trip accommodation booked through Pera-Kaktüs Travel. Note that flight times must be provided to Pera-Kaktüs Travel no fewer than 21 days before flight departure.

Disclaimer
- These prices are LAND-ONLY. All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however prices and itineraries are subject to change, please confirm all details and final cost at time of booking.
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Please note:
- On Mondays, when Hagia Sophia is closed, we visit the Yerebatan Museum (the Underground Roman Cisterns), built by Emperor Justinian in 532, possibly as an enlargement of an earlier cistern of Constantine. The vast awesome columned cavern was the water source for both the Grand Palace of the Byzantine and for the Ottoman’s Topkapi Palace. It is 140 meters long by 70 meters wide with 336 columns.
- In winter the Dolmabahçe (Bezm-i Alem Valide) Mosque is visited instead of the Yildiz Royal Gardens
- Harem Section of the Topkapi Palace is not included into the program. Should you wish to visit it, you may do so during the free time your guide will give you
 
- While visiting mosques, please cover your shoulders, knees & women, additionally, heads 
- Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, during Ramadan Festivities (5-6-7 July 2016), Kurban Festivities (12-13-14-15 September 2016), National Republic Day (29 October 2016), and will be replaced by other authentic shops.
- Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar is closed during Ramadan Festivities (5-6-7 July 2016) & Kurban Festivities (12-13-14-15 September 2016)
- Other languages are available with an extra fee upon request

*Hotel Class Key
- ST = Superior Tourist (3*), MF = Moderate First Class (classic boutique, ranked as 4*), FC = First Class (4*), SF= Superior First Class (5* classic), MD = Moderate Deluxe (5* Deluxe), and D = Deluxe (5* Boutique or Luxury)
- Hotels are subject to availability upon definite booking and might be changed to the similar ones
- Twin-share option is not available for trips unless you travel with your own partner or travel companion.

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Kaktüs Tourism Travel Agency - Pera Air and Tourism
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