After pickup from Istanbul cruise port, meet your guide, board your air-conditioned minivan, and start your half-day tour. As you travel into the historical center, learn about Istanbul’s past as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires, and about its historical importance derived from its strategic position straddling Europe and Asia.
Head for the UNESCO-listed Hagia Sophia, one of the city’s showpieces. Gaze at the beautiful dome, and tour the richly decorated interior. Admire the glittering icons and mosaics, and hear how the basilica was constructed in its present form by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, before being converted into an Ottoman mosque and today’s museum.
Cross to the nearby Blue Mosque, another architectural masterpiece, commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I in 1603. Admire the cascading domes and six minarets, and explore inside, seeing the ocean of blue Iznik tiles that lend it its name.
Stroll around the Hippodrome, the site of public events in Roman and Byzantine times. View the monuments here, including the Obelisk of Theodosius and Column of Constantine, and hear tales of the chariot races and ceremonies held here.
After four hours’ exploring, your tour finishes with a port drop-off.