Istanbul’s Byzantium Side
Istanbul's Byzantium SideBegin your day by traveling over the Golden Horn en route to Old Town through the crowded business section to reach the Chora Museum, located just beyond the ancient city walls.
The Chora Museum was built between 1077 and 1081 by Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Emperor Alexius Comnenus. It has had many restorations and refurbishments during its long history and was converted into a Mosque in 1500 by the Ottomans. Dating from the early 14th century, the mosaics and frescoes depict the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ and are beautiful examples of the Byzantine Renaissance.
Next you’ll continue to the ancient Hippodrome. For over 1,000 years this was the center of Byzantium life. Afterwards, for another 400 years, it was the social center of the Ottoman Empire. The Hippodrome was the scene of countless political and military dramas, including the famous chariot races. The main monument left today is the impressive granite obelisk, carved in Egypt around 1,500 BC and brought to Constantinople in 390 AD.
St. Sophia Museum originated in 326 under Constantine the Great. It became Hagia Sophia and was rebuilt on a larger scale during the reign of Emperor Justinian. His intention was that the new building should surpass in splendor all others in antiquity. It is said that 10,000 workers were employed in its construction and marble columns were brought in from temples in minor Asia, Lebanon, Greece and Italy. In 1934, St. Sophia was converted into a museum and is now the most important Byzantine Monument in Istanbul, famous for its immense dome and beautiful frescoes and mosaics.
Conclude your day of touring with a short drive to the exotic Grand Bazaar; one of the most colorful sites of Istanbul. The bazaar is composed of two sections; the covered part and the modern part. The covered part is a whole quarter on its own and is surrounded by a wall which can be entered through eleven gates. The maze of streets and lanes are one of the greatest sights in the city, where various trades such as carpets, jewelry, leather goods, silver; varieties of souvenirs, textile, antiques, and home textile are segregated into particular sections of the bazaar.
You will have the chance to explore the exotic atmosphere of the covered part for a brief period of time. You will also have the opportunity to visit the open and modern section of the Grand Bazaar which offers the best artworks and most reliable shopping. During your time in the Grand Bazaar, you will be taken for a presentation on the unique art of Turkish carpets and you will have time to shop.
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