Start your full-day tour with pickup by your comfortable private vehicle at your hotel. Your guide provides an informative introduction to the long history of the Byzantine Empire as you set off to see Byzantine sites in Istanbul.
At the Church of St Saviour in Chora, hear about the history and importance of the original Chora Church, which dates to the fourth century. The current church contains some of the world's finest mosaics and frescoes, with depictions of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and many Christian saints and icons.
Visit the Ecumencial Orthodox Patriarchate (aka Church of St George), which has an interior filled with gold, marble and huge chandeliers. Since the year 1600 it has been the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, although it is largely of symbolic significance since the early 20th century.
See Zeyrek Mosque (Pantokrator Church), a mosque that was made from two former Eastern Orthodox churches and a chapel. It features architecture from the middle Byzantine period and is the second largest Byzantine religious structure that remains in Istanbul.
Take your time to absorb the splendor of the largest Byzantine creation in Istanbul: the Hagia Sophia. Emperor Justinian I (527-565) ordered the construction of the original building, which was designed by the most important architects of the period, Anthemios (Tralles) and Isidoros (Miletus). It is known as the crown jewel of Byzantine architecture, and is sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.
Nearby, go underground to experience the Basilica Cistern, an ancient subterranean water system from the Byzantine era and the largest of several hundred cisterns underneath the city. It was also built in the sixth century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.