- 3-hour Byzantine history tour of Istanbul by luxury coach
- Discover the ancient city of Constantinople and learn about the city’s significant early Christian sites
- Visit the Ecumencial Orthodox Patriarchate in Fener, home to the ceremonial head of the Greek Orthodox church
- See a shrine to the Holy Virgin at the Church of St Mary of Blachernae
- Explore the ruins of ancient Blachernae Palace and see Anemas Dungeons
- Walk around the Walls of Constantinople, admiring the remains of old city gates and towers
Why Our Insiders Chose This Tour
If you visit Istanbul, you have to see this.
What You Can Expect
Stop in the Greek neighborhood of Fener at the Ecumencial Orthodox Patriarchate – an intriguing church compound where the ceremonial head of the Greek Orthodox Church is based. Visit the Church of St George (the site’s main church) and see its Byzantine patriarchal throne, dripping with opulent ornamentation.
Continue to the historical neighborhood of Ayvansaray, known in Byzantine days as Blachernae, to see the Church of St Mary of Blachernae – one of Istanbul’s best-known Eastern Orthodox churches. While its exterior is nothing to shout about, the church itself is highly significant to the country’s Eastern Orthodox community with its much-celebrated status as a shrine to the Holy Virgin. Head inside to see a holy water spring.
Visit the Western District next, to see Chora Church, a spectacular Byzantine monastery. While exploring with your guide, admire its stunning mosaics that depict the life of Christ and marvel at the equally elaborate frescoes, painted in intricate detail that was way ahead of other Byzantine artwork.
Return to Ayvansaray to explore the ancient site of Blachernae Palace, and while the site is now more ‘rubble’ than palace, its ruins provide an inspiring sense of its former glory. See the outside of Anemas Dungeons, learning how it was once a terrifying Byzantine prison, and then see the exterior of Tekfur Palace (or Palace of Constantine Porphyrogenitus to give it its due) – the only surviving building of Blachernae Palace.
Finish with a walk around the Walls of Constantinople, seeing the remains of the ancient city’s old towers and gates, and then end your tour in the Sultanahmet district in the center of town.
I was so disappointed to discover that 2 of the 5 places we were supposed to visit were closed for renovations (and will be for the next few months), so we just stopped in front of them in the bus. If they know you can't go to all the places they should either discount the trip or replace them with something else.