This morning we visit Hagia Sophia,
the "Church of Divine Wisdom." Completed under the Emperor Justinian in AD 537, the magnificent dome of the Hagia Sophia was once the pre-eminent architectural wonder of the Byzantine world. The massive building was a Christian church for almost a thousand years, until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, when Mehmet the Conqueror claimed it for Islam. The building served as a mosque until 1934, when the revolutionary leader and founder of the Republic, Kemal Atatürk, proclaimed it as a museum. This impressive structure has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tour of Istanbul including visits of St. Saviour in Chora - (Kariye Museum
) Originaly formed the center of a Byzantine Monastery complex. Only the church section which was dedicated to Jesus Christ the Saviour, has survived. .Continue your tour with the visit of Taksim Square.We have lunch on our own, and then board the Old Tram for a ride down Istiklal Street to the heart of Art Nouveau Istanbul. Istanbul has many Art Nouveau buildings; several were designed by the Italian architect Raimondo Tommasso d'Aronco, the chief palace architect for the last
Ottoman sultan, Abudulhamid II, who ruled from 1876 to 1909. D'Aronco drew heavily Ottoman and Islamic architecture and art, reinterpreting them through the lens of the then-popular European Art Nouveau movement and its organic, floral forms. The results can be seen in the many beautiful palaces and grand private homes he designed for Istanbul's government and its elite citizens.Continue your tour with the visit of Spice Market, Egyptian Bazaar built in the 17th century, this is the second largest covered bazaar in Istanbul. On to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar
, where the pungent and savory aroma of exotic oils, herbs and spices have perfumed the arched stone corridors for nearly 350 years. Now also proferring nuts, honey, dried fruits, traditional sweets and herbal remedies, the Spice Bazaar’s redolent wares will transform you into a veritable spice trader!
.This afternoon, we take to the water for our Bosporus cruise
. You can look north to the “European” district of Galata, or east to the Asiatic side of the Bosporus and the Maiden’s Tower. In ancient times, the Golden Horn could be closed off to warships with a giant chain stretching from here to Seraglio Point. Following our cruise, we enjoy dinner together
at a local restaurant