This specially designed Reunion Cruise tour allows you to immerse yourself in the endless joys of Istanbul during a definitive tour of its landmarks, including the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar.
Departing from the pier, you will first make your way to one of nicest restaurants in the city where you will enjoy a lunch of traditional Turkish cuisine and be entertained with a belly dance performance.
After lunch, re-board your coach and head to the 15th-century Topkapi Palace, which served as the Imperial Residence to 25 sultans and 4,000 people for nearly 400 years during the great Ottoman Empire. In 1924, the palace was converted into a museum and today, it’s a maze of lavishly decorated buildings and courtyards that reflect its most glorious years. Walk in the footsteps of Courtesans and Eunuchs, Grand Viziers and Sultans, and glimpse a way of life that redefines decadence. Today you can only imagine the activities of the cast of characters who played a part in one of the world’s most powerful dynasties. You can, however, feast your eyes on where they lived, on gilded swords, ornate crowns, many unique pieces of porcelain, and ravishing displays of jewelry, including one of the world’s biggest diamonds. Wander around the Harem, gaze at sacred religious relics including hand-written letters from the Prophet Mohammed as well as his cloak, swords, and hairs from his beard, the rod of Moses and the sword of David, peek into the circumcision room, or simply sit in the peaceful gardens and contemplate the majesty of it all.
Next, you’ll proceed to the landmark Blue Mosque, one of the few mosques with six minarets. It was constructed in the early 17th century under the direction of Sultan Ahmet I, who was only 19 years old at the time. The exterior of the Blue Mosque is notable for its cascade of domes that seem to spill down from the central dome. Inside, the ceiling is lined with the 20,000 blue tiles for which the mosque is named. From here, you’ll then see the famed Hippodrome, where chariot races, coronations and parades all took place starting in 203 A.D.
Continuing on, you'll visit another fascinating attraction from the Byzantine period - the massive Underground Cistern which served as the imperial water storage tank. More than 300 beautiful columns of various designs support the cistern's vaulted brick roof. During your visit you won't want to miss the two columns that have Medusa heads carved into their pedestals. No one is sure when these antique pieces were brought into the cistern or what purpose they served, but they are amazing examples of ancient statuary art.
Your tour will conclude with a visit to the bustling Grand Bazaar, where almost 5,000 shops are spread out in a giant maze of small streets and passages that are arranged according to their trade; rugs, antiques, gold, silver, leather, etc. Throughout the Ottoman Period, the bazaar withstood earthquakes and fires, and was restored several times. Afterwards, you will return to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 3 1/2 hours of moderate to strenuous walking/standing and includes numerous steps to negotiate at the cistern and the Blue Mosque. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Shoulders and knees must be covered to enter the mosques and ladies must cover their heads as well. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary and the total tour duration is subject to traffic conditions.