PRE AND POST CONGRESS TOURS
A visit to Istanbul is a unique experience - offering a wide range of exciting opportunities waiting to be discovered.
A relaxing and refreshing cruise to the Princess Islands located off the Asian Shore, in the Sea of Marmara, south east of the city.
Leaving the endless energy of the Old and New Istanbul, followed by a
short cruise on the Ferry, arrive at the Princess Islands. Visit the Grand
Island Buyukada, one of the most well known islands, where the islanders
live with neither vehicles nor traffic, in the tranquility of the beautiful
wooden houses. A tour of the island is taken on horse driven carts called
"Faytons". Lunch is served in one of the local restaurants on
ISTANBUL BY NIGHT
Depart from Congress Hotels and drive through the illuminated Istanbul,
and tour the Bosphorus coastline.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ISTANBUL
Visit the Historical Peninsula where Constantinople was originally founded on the seven hills. The highlights are located on the first hill of the city, the ancient acropolis of Byzantium where the Hippodrome can be seen.
This was the Roman place for the chariots races and the starting point of the riots of the thousands. Right next to the Hippodrome stands the Blue Mosque across St. Sophia, the two major monuments of the Islamic and Christian world, face to face. Visit the Blue Mosque; renowned with its six minarets and the blue tiles, that was constructed during 1609 - 1616 by the order of Sultan Ahmet. Proceed to the St. Sophia, originally a church, converted into a mosque, and now a museum.
Continue to Topkapi Palace, the imperial residence of the Ottoman Sultans
and the seat of the Ottoman ruling class that was established in the 15th
century, spread over a total area of 70,000 square meters.
TURKISH BATH TOUR
One of the truly unique experiences of a trip to Turkey is a visit to the Hamam. Like a Harem, this Roman and Byzantine tradition was adopted and perfected by the Seljuk Turks, for whom the public bath took on an important role. It was not merely a place where believers could fulfill the Islamic precept of cleanliness, but a place in which to mingle, socialize and gossip. Women would proceed from their harem to the Hamam with great ceremony; accompanied by servants heavily laden with delicacies to tide the ladies over for the hours they would spend lounging in the steam.
The young women used this opportunity to show off their ornately embroidered towels and ivory inlaid slippers, not to mention their youthful figures, while older women would spot potential wives for their sons. Men would discuss the latest court scandal or talk business and politics. Contrary to popular ideas, Hamams have always been permanently designated for one of the sexes, or have a separate schedule for men and women. Traditionally, a whole range of paraphernalia is associated with the Hamam.
The pestamal, a colourful checked cloth, which is wrapped around the
waist by men, is still in use. Takunyalar, or wooden clogs, often inlaid
or carved, have generally been replaced by plastic flip-flops. Soap, shampoo
and other toiletries were carried in hand crafted copper or gold plated
tarak kutusu. While some of these items are no longer used, they are still
widely available to buy and are guaranteed to add to the pleasure of the
Begin the tour with a visit to the Chora Church, formerly the Church of St. Savior in Chora, containing a series of superb preserved frescoes and mosaics, among the most evocative of all Byzantine treasures.
Continue to the Suleymaniye Mosque, one of the masterpieces designed by the great architect Sinan, built in the 16th century for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. This mosque plays host to both worshippers and tourists and is one of the most commanding features of Istanbul's enchanting skyline. Proceed to the Museum of the Turkish and Islamic Arts - located in the actual 16th century building of the palace, which belonged to the Ottoman Grand Vezir Ibrahim Pasca. View the rare and ancient works of art from Turkish and Islamic culture.
End the tour with a visit to the Underground Cistern, undoubtedly the most impressive of the entire cistern system in the city, the Basilica Cistern was built by Constantine and enlarged by Justinian. The cistern has since been drained and a few electric lights installed. Strains of Beethoven symphonies echo against the dark walls.
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