Byzantine Relics


Drive to the center of Old Town, to the Hippodrome Square, which was the center of chariot races and the Byzantine civic life. It was built by Roman Emperor Septimus in 203 A.D. with the capacity of 100,000 spectators which was one quarter of the city population of those days. The original ground level of the Hippodrome was 4-5 meters lower than the present surface. Three monuments to our day; the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpent Column, and Walled Obelisk.



The Egyptian Obelisk; is the oldest monument in the city. Around 1490 BC, the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III erected two obelisks which were made by of rare pink granite. In the 4th century AD a Roman Emperor brought one of the obelisks to Istanbul. In 390 AD, During the reign of Emperor Theodosius, with great difficulty the obelisk was erected at the Hippodrome Square. Today, it is around 26 meters long. The Serpent Column is also one of the oldest monument in the city. The heads of the three intertwined serpents used to form the legs of a gold cauldron.



Then visit the Blue Mosque built in early 17th century and known as “blue” because of its magnificent interior decoration with blue Iznik tiles which are striking both for their color and  the immense  area over which they are displayed. It is the only mosque in the world that was originally built with six minarets. The 260 windows floodlight the interior of the mosque which is covered by a dome 23,5 m (73 ft) in diameter and 43 m (141 ft) high. The architect Mehmet Aga was a student of Sinan, the greatest architect of classical Ottoman architecture.















Then continue to St. Sophia Museum (Church) built in 360 A.D.. St. Sophia was, for many centuries, the World’s largest church. Through its Byzantine history, it served as the cathedral of the city and after his conquest of Istanbul, Sultan Mehmet II, concerted it to a mosque by adding Islamic elements such as minarets, mihrab & minber.










Then, visit the famous historical Grand Bazaar, the largest “souk” covered oriental shopping mall in the world, where you will find 4,400 shops under one roof where each trade has its own street. There is a wide selection of leather, jewelry, antiques, copperware, souvenirs, and famous hand-made Turkish carpets displayed in this historical shopping center.