Go back in time to the Byzantine times when Istanbul was Constantinople and enjoy an 8-hour small-group guided tour of monasteries and churches. On this tour, uncover the impressive history of Christian sanctuaries that peaked during the reign of the Byzantine Empire. Visit Kariye Museum, once Chora Church, and ogle its frescoes and mosaics. See mosques converted from churches such as Pammakaristos and Pantocrator. Immerse with your guide to discover the history of palatial remains plus enjoy lunch included on this tour. Numbers on this small-group tour are limited to 15 people for a more intimate experience.
Explore important religious buildings from the era of Constantinople
Visit Chora Church to see its magnificent Byzantine mosaics and frescoes
Enjoy a 2-course lunch at a local restaurant
Receive personalized attention on a small-group tour limited to 15 people
Why Travelers Choose This Tour
This classic sightseeing tour focuses on the city's centuries-old Byzantine and Ottoman heritage.
Meet your guide at your central Istanbul hotel and begin your Constantinople small-group guided tour in Istanbul. Buckle up in your air-conditioned minivan and head to the neighborhood of Sarachane located on the European side. As you cruise, travel back in time and hear Constantinople’s history when it was the lively capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Arrive in Sarachane and take a walk through the carved remains of St Polyeuktos church. Learn how this church was built during the 6th century and was considered one of the most important Christian sanctuaries. Continue to the Church of Pantocrator and hear how this monastery church, built in the 12 century, was converted to a mosque. See its ancient cistern and gain insight into why this Byzantine landmark is so significant. Next, visit Fethiye Mosque formerly Pammakaristos Church and see its funerary chapel’s stunning array of Byzantine mosaics. After leaving this 12th century church with your guide, head to Istanbul’s eldest standing church, the Monastery Chapel of St John the Forerunner. Here, relax at a local eatery and savor a 2-course lunch usually consisting of soup or salad with a meat and eggplant entree. After eating, make your way to Chora Church also known as the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora renown for its Byzantine era art. Enter with your guide and marvel at distinguished mosaics and detailed frescoes that exemplify Christ’s life. Continue with a walk through the kingly Tekfur Palace (Palace of the Porphyrogenitus), home to royalty until the 15th century when the Ottoman Empire began its reign. Wander through archways, around courtyards, and admire the elegant façade. Then, listen as your guide creates an atmosphere of a place that was formerly known for houses, dungeons, and immense gardens. As your tour come to an end, hop back in your minivan and return to your hotel.
We enjoyed this tour very much. Our guide Ilker was incredibly knowledgeable. His enthusiasm and warmth made this tour particularly memorable. We enjoyed a wonderful meal with Ilker at a restaurant in the Fatih district. He could not have chosen a better itinerary or restaurant.
Marvelous! Absolutely marveIous! I was in luck since I was the only one having booked the tour that day. So a small-group tour turned into a private tour for me. And this tour was the highlight of my trip. After having experienced the big tourist attractions I wanted to find the hidden historical gems... and this tour did not disappoint! My tour guide was extremely friendly and he was also extremely knowledgable, and imparted the knowledge in really fun ways! I highly recommend this tour if you have visited all the big attractions Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque etc and want something a little different.
Oh, and the lunch included? Absolutely fantastic! Normally an included lunch is fairly standard, more filling than anything, but this lunch was at a restaurant with home cooked anatolian food.
One fair bit of warning for this tour though, there is much walking involved so if you are not prepared for that this tour might not be for you.
Great tour guide. We were able to see and experience the remaining gems of the old Byzantine Monasteries. Not much remains intact, but if you enjoy history and wandering through the old streets to piece together the clues, it is a fun time.
My day with Ilker was the best part of my trip to Istanbul. He was very knowledgeable about Christian sites and history, but also took time to explain many Muslim traditions and practices as well. Overall I could not have had a better day. Thank you!
Illcare (phonetic spelling), the Guide, was a very knowledgeable and friendly person who took his time to explain the background to each church, mosque or space we visited in a packed and thoroughly enjoyable itinerary. Thanks to the company "Istanbul Walks".
having already done the major sites in Istanbul i wanted something a little different and this tour did not disappoint - it did turn out to be a very small group tour - just me and the guide but that made it all the better - the guide was great well informed and it made a very interesting day - quite a bit of walking involved so best to be a little fit, lunch was ok nothing special but then I wasn't expecting a gourmet meal - a great way to get another perspective on Istanbul
This tour is outstanding. There were only two of us and we got more detail and insight and sights than we had expected. While its a full day walking tour, it was pretty easy. The guide was very knowledgeable on history and we learned a lot including walking back streets off the beaten tourist routes and through some local market areas and several churches. A great experience that is well worth it to see the real Istanbul.
This is a remarkable off the beaten path tour of churches and mosque's from ancient times with remarkable paintings. Our guide, Ilker, is a knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the features of the walking tour, which go through some fascinating back streets of Istanbul. The lunch was excellent, more than we could eat.
I suspect that most tourists who have never been to Istanbul want to see the more famous sites, which we had done before, but if time allows, this is a remarkable tour.
Great guide. Answer all our questions. Bring your walking shoes. It is a good tour to see the non-touristic areas of Istanbul. The only issue I found is for the money you pay, they should take you to better restaurant for lunch.