Istanbul Tours

Istanbul Tours
Tour Name & Cover Price
3 Days Package
Byzantine & Ottoman Relics tour
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
$249
4 Days Package
Byzantine & Ottoman Relics, Bosphorus & Two Continents tours
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
$339
5 Days Package
Byzantine & Ottoman Relics, Bosphorus & Two Continents tours, Turkish Bath (Hamam)
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
$429
6 Days Package
Byzantine & Ottoman Relics, Bosphorus & Two Continents tours, Price Island Tour
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
$529
Cruise Shore Excursions in Istanbul
Tour Name & Cover Price
Full Day Byzantine & Ottoman Relics Tour
Hypodrome, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, St. Sophia, Grand Bazaar
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
from
$80/pp
Full Day Bosphorus Cruise & Asia Tour
Spice Bazaar, Beylerbeyi Palace, Bosphorus Bridge, Camlica Hill
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
from
$90/pp
Full day Jewish Heritage Tour
Jewish Synagogues, Jewish Museum, St. Sophia, Grand Bazaar
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
from
$155/pp
Half Day Istanbul Classical Tour #1
Blue Mosque, St. Sophia, Grand Bazaar
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
from
$55/pp
Half Day Istanbul Classical Tour #2
Hypodrome, Topkapi Palace
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
from
$55/pp
Half Day Bosphorus Cruise Tour
Spice Bazaar, trip with a cruise through Bosphorus
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
from
$55/pp
Half Day Dolmabahce Tour
Dolmabahce Palace, Grand Bazaar
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
from
$55/pp
Half Day Shopping Tour
Spice Bazaar, Grand Bazaar
Professional English speaking Tour Guide, transfers & transportation
from
$45/pp
Turkish Belly Dance Show & Dinner By Night
Turkish Belly Dancers and Turkish Traditional Folkshows, full course dinner
transfers & transportation
from
$70/pp

 

About Istanbul

Istanbul (historically also known as Byzantium and Constantinople) is the largest city in Turkey and fifth largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.8 million. Istanbul is also a megacity, as well as the cultural, economic, and financial centre of Turkey. The city covers 39 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) sides of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents.

In its long history, Istanbul has served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330�395), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395�1204 and 1261�1453), the Latin Empire (1204�1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453�1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

History

In 2008, during the construction works of the Yenikapi subway station and the Marmaray tunnel at the historic peninsula on the European side, a previously unknown Neolithic settlement dating from circa 6700 BC (predating the formation of the Bosphorus strait in circa 5600 BC) was discovered. The first human settlement on the Anatolian side, the Fikirtepe mound, is from the Copper Age period, with artifacts dating from 5500�3500 BC. In nearby Kadikoy (Chalcedon) a port settlement dating back to the Phoenicians has been discovered. Cape Moda in Chalcedon was the first location which the Greek settlers from Megara chose to colonise in 685 BC, prior to colonising Byzantion on the European side of the Bosphorus under the command of King Byzas in 667 BC, which is generally regarded as the foundation date of the city of Istanbul. Byzantion was actually established on the site of a previous port settlement named Lygos, founded by Thracian tribes between the 13th and 11th centuries BC, along with the neighbouring town of Semistra, of which Pliny had mentioned in his historical accounts. Only a few walls and substructures belonging to Lygos have survived to date, near the Seraglio Point (Turkish: Sarayburnu), where the famous Topkapi Palace now stands. During the period of Byzantion, the Acropolis used to stand where the Topkapi Palace stands today.

After siding with Pescennius Niger against the victorious Roman emperor Septimius Severus, the city was besieged by the Romans and suffered extensive damage in 196 AD. Byzantium was rebuilt by Severus and quickly regained its previous prosperity, being temporarily renamed as Augusta Antonina by the emperor, in honour of his son.

The location of Byzantium attracted Constantine I in 324 after a prophetic dream was said to have identified the location of the city; but the true reason behind this prophecy was probably Constantine's final victory over Licinius at the Battle of Chrysopolis (�sk�dar) on the Bosphorus, on 18 September 324, which ended the civil war between the Roman Co-Emperors, and brought an end to the final vestiges of the Tetrarchy system, during which Nicomedia (present-day Izmit, 100 km (62 mi) east of Istanbul) was the most senior Roman capital city. Byzantium (now renamed as Nova Roma which eventually became Constantinopolis, i.e. "The City of Constantine") was officially proclaimed the new capital of the Roman Empire six years later, in 330. Following the death of Theodosius I in 395 and the permanent partition of the Roman Empire between his two sons, Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. As well as being the centre of an imperial dynasty, the unique position of Constantinople at the centre of two continents made the city a magnet for international commerce, culture and diplomacy. The Byzantine Empire was distinctly Greek in culture and became the centre of Greek Orthodox Christianity, while its capital was adorned with many magnificent churches, including the Hagia Sophia, once the world's largest cathedral. The seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, still remains in the Fener (Phanar) district of Istanbul.

In 1204, the Fourth Crusade was launched to capture Jerusalem, but had instead turned on Constantinople, which was sacked and desecrated. The city subsequently became the centre of the Catholic Latin Empire, created by the crusaders to replace the Orthodox Byzantine Empire, which was divided into a number of splinter states, of which the Empire of Nicaea was to recapture Constantinople in 1261 under the command of Michael VIII Palaeologus.

In the last decades of the Byzantine Empire, the city had decayed as the Byzantine state became increasingly isolated and financially bankrupt, its population had dwindled to some thirty or forty thousand people whilst large sections remained uninhabited. Due to the ever increasing inward turn the Byzantines took, many facets of their surrounding empire were now falling apart, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Ottoman Turks began a strategy by which they took selected towns and smaller cities over time, enveloping Bursa in 1326, Izmit (Nicomedia) in 1337, Gelibolu (Gallipoli) in 1354, and finally Edirne (Adrianople) in 1362. This essentially cut off Constantinople from its main supply routes, strangling it slowly.

On 29 May 1453, Sultan Mehmed II "the Conqueror" captured Constantinople after a 53-day siege (during which the last Roman/Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI, died near the Porta Aurea while defending the city) and proclaimed that Constantinople was now the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Mehmed's first duty was to rejuvenate the city economically, creating the Grand Bazaar and inviting the fleeing Orthodox and Catholic inhabitants to return. Captured prisoners were freed to settle in the city whilst provincial governors in Rumelia and Anatolia were ordered to send four thousand families to settle in the city, whether Muslim, Christian or Jew, to form a unique cosmopolitan society. The Sultan also endowed the city with various architectural monuments, including the Topkapi Palace and the Ey�p Sultan Mosque. Religious foundations were established to fund the construction of grand imperial mosques (such as the Fatih Mosque which was built on the spot where the Church of the Holy Apostles once stood), adjoined by their associated schools, hospitals and public baths. Suleiman the Magnificent's reign of the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 was a period of great artistic and architectural achievements. The famous architect Mimar Sinan designed many mosques and other grand buildings in the city, while Ottoman arts of ceramics, calligraphy and miniature also flourished.

When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atat�rk, the capital was moved from Istanbul to Ankara. In the early years of the republic, Istanbul was overlooked in favour of the new capital. However, starting from the late 1940s and early 1950s, Istanbul underwent great structural change, as new public squares (such as Taksim Square), boulevards and avenues were constructed throughout the city; sometimes at the expense of the demolition of many historical buildings. Starting from the 1970s, the population of Istanbul began to rapidly increase, as people from Anatolia migrated to the city in order to find employment in the many new factories that were constructed at the outskirts of the sprawling metropolis. This sudden sharp rise in the city's population caused a large demand for housing development, and many previously outlying villages and forests became engulfed into the greater metropolitan area of Istanbul. Illegal construction, combined with corner-cutting methods, have accounted for why 65% of the buildings in Istanbul are built without proper planning. The concerns have increased due to the serious nature of the Izmit earthquake of 17 August 1999. On 9 September 2009 the city experienced extensive flooding.


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