Byzantine Visions

Drive to the center of the old town and visit Hippodrome Square the scene of chariot races and the center of 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.

Continue 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 etc...

Then, visit Basilica Cistern (Underground Cistern), built for wartime in 542 AD by Byzantine Emperor Justinian as a water storage. There are 336 columns most of which are topped with Byzantian Corinthian capitals. The cistern is 70 m (230 ft) wide and 140 m (460 ft) long. It is the largest and most magnificent covered cistern in the city.  The name of the cistern comes from a basilica that was once located nearby. The ground of the cistern was cleared during the major restoration in 1987, and after the removal of 1 meter of mud, the original brick pavement and two marble Medusa heads at the base of two of the columns were revealed.

Operates on: Friday, Apr 26
Duration: 13:00 – 18:00
Price: 40 Euro per person
Minimum number of guests: 16