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Istanbul Tour 1
We first visit Hagia Sofia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian and inaugurated in 537 AD. For over nine centuries it was the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it remains the world’s4th largest church. Hagia Sofia contains some of the finest mosaics to have survived from the Byzantine period Our next stop is Blue Mosque, so called because of its exquisite Iznik tile decoration. Thousands and thousands of these exteremly precious tiles line the walls in a mezmerizing display of floral extravangance.The mosque’s courtyard is exceptional beautiful, and it is the only mosque in Istanbul to have six minarets.At the Basilica Cistern which, like Hagia Sofia, is the work of Justinian. Its roof is supported by a forest of over 300 columns. In the afternoon, we visit the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, which contains a priceless collection of Ottoman calligraph in gold, intricate miniatures, ceramics and magnificent carpets, some dating back to the 13th century. What makes the museum unique is the fact that it is housed in the former palace of Ibrahim Pasha, one of Suleyman the Magnificent’s grand viziers. After this we move on the Istanbul’s world-renowned Grand Bazaar. The Bazaar was built between 1455-1461. There are thousands of shops that offer hand-woven carpets, kilims, hand-made gold and silver jewelery, Ottoman and Central Asian carpets, and world famous Iznik and Kutahya tiles and ceramics from one of the Turkey’s leading collectors and dealers.