You will start at the old Hippodrome of Constantinople which was the sports and social center of the old city. More recently known as Sultan Ahmet it is still home to some of the major works of art from all over the world, which were brought there by Theodosius The Great to raise the image of the city. These include the Obelisk from Egypt, Serpentine Column from Delphi and fountain of Willhelm II, which was constructed by the German government. From there you will continue to the Blue Mosque, whose six minarets are a key fixture of Istanbul’s skyline. Admire the 17th-century edifice, and marvel at the thousands of bright blue Iznik tiles that coat its interior.
Next, head for the Topkapi Palace, the opulent palace-turned-museum that was home to the Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Hear anecdotes about the sultans and their entourages, and wonder at the riches of its courts and pavilions, including the jewel-stuffed treasury and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. Move on to the Hagia Sophia, built as a basilica in the 6th century before the Ottomans turned it into a mosque in the 15th century. Behold the dome and stunning Byzantine mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history.
Then its time to visit the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewellery to ceramics and leather goods, to the Spice Bazaar with its incredible smell from almost every spice imaginable, as well as dried fruits and nuts, sweets and the ubiquitous Turkish Delight, it is mind blowing to the first time visitor. This is not helped by the traders shouting out and tempting you in with various offers, many of which will be quickly forgotten should you venture inside.
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