Istanbul's stunning architecture reigns supreme on this tour, which begins with a short drive to the remarkable Blue Mosque, the only mosque in the world with six minarets. Built between 1609 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmed I, and named after him, the mosque is now known as the Blue Mosque because of the 21,000 blue-green Iznik tiles that adorn the interior. The city's famed Hippodrome lies in front of the Blue Mosque, where it was once a center for entertainment and sporting events, particularly horseracing.
Next, you will visit another of the most recognized buildings on Istanbul's skyline: Topkapi Palace, which served as the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans for nearly 400 years. Situated on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, where the Acropolis of Byzantium once stood, the sultan's palace features incredibly elaborate pavilions, mosques, fountains, a harem and an outstanding treasury.
Then, it's on to the sprawling and exotically fragranced Spice Market, which was constructed in 1664 as part of an imperial mosque complex. Besides its seemingly endless supply of spices and dried fruits, you will find locally made merchandise such as jewelry and pottery.
Please note: The Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays, so a visit to Beylerbeyi Palace will be substituted. The order of the sites may change to avoid the crowds. Please expect dense traffic conditions in Istanbul. The Blue Mosque will be closed to all visitors until after 2:30 pm on Fridays. Conservative dress is required for visiting the mosques. All female guests will be required to cover their heads, shoulders and arms and shorts above knee-length are not allowed for both male and female visitors.