(13.00-17.00) This afternoon walking tour explores the spectacular Topkapi Palace – Harem section is excluded (closed Tuesday), seat of the Ottoman sultans for 400 years. Built on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, this huge complex commands superb views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. The palace is filled with treasures of the Sultans including the extravagant Treasury with its magnificent jewels, and the priceless Chinese porcelain, one of the best collections in the world. Thereafter proceed to Grand Covered Bazaar (Closed on Sundays), which is the biggest “souk” in the world with nearly 4000 shops of antiques, jewellery, gold, carpets, ceramics and leather wear.
Topkapi Palace closed on Tuesday and replaced with the Archaeological Museum. The Archaeological Museum of Istanbul has one of the world’s richest collections of classical artifacts with the collection of antiquities beginning in the mid 19th Century. The main building was erected under the direction of Osman Hamdi Bey (1881-1910) to house his find of exquisite sarcophagi.
Grand Covered Bazaar closed on Sunday and replaced with the surrounding local markets or Spice Bazaar on Sundays. Grand Covered Bazaar can be replaced with Underground Cistern on Private tours only. The marvellous Yerebatan Underground Cistern with its atmospherically lit rows of columns – 336 in total. It was built in 532, with a capacity to store 80,000 cubic metres of water. It has excellent acoustics, and, with its fabulous atmosphere, has been used by famous singers, and for film sets. As the Underground Cistern is very old and damp, appropriate footwear is advisable as the floor can be slippery.
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