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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.

Highlights

  • 8-hour tour of Istanbul’s Byzantine churches and monasteries
  • Explore important religious buildings from the era of Constantinople
  • Visit Chora Church to see its magnificent Byzantine mosaics and frescoes
  • Stroll around the ruins of St Polyeuktos Church and Tekfur Palace
  • Admire the art and mosaics of the Church of the Pantocrator
  • Enjoy a 2-course lunch at a local restaurant
  • Receive personalized attention on a small-group tour limited to 15 people

Why Our Insiders Chose This Tour

Istanbul's Byzantine monasteries offer a window of sight into the era of Constantinople. See the remains of dungeons, cisterns and palaces as your guide unravels their mysterious past. It’s perfect for history buffs!

What You Can Expect

Constantinople Small-Group Tour of Istanbul with Lunch

Trace the story of the original Orient Express train on a nostalgia-inducing walking tour

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.

Customer Reviews

Michael L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended December 2016

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

Eben F USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2016

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.

Eben F USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2016

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.

Juleika C

4 star rating: Recommended September 2015

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.

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