Meet your guide at a centrally located meeting point or selected hotels, and head to the Asian side of Istanbul to explore Topkapi Palace, a sprawling complex with commanding views of the Bosphorus Strait. Learn about the sultans who ruled the empire from this scenic spot, and find out how the palace’s intricate design reflects Ottoman hierarchy and traditions. See the remarkable collection of Chinese porcelain, holy relics, sultan’s costumes and weapons that are displayed throughout the palace, visit a series of grand courts and the Imperial Treasury, and slip into sheltered pleasure pavilions.
Continue to the nearby Rustem Pasha Mosque to see the religious side of Ottoman design and hear stories about Grand Vizier who built it; find out how Rustem Pasha struggled for power then fell from grace. See why this mosque is celebrated for the quality of its handmade tiles, which line both the interior and exterior walls. After your tour, take time to explore the complex of colorful shops that surround the mosque, the perfect place to browse handicrafts and souvenirs.