The Rise of the Byzantium

PRIVATE TOUR STARTING FROM
* Private tours are upon request.
** The price above is quoted per person
VENUE
Old City
THEME
History
DURATION
6-7 hours
WHAT'S INCLUDED?

Meeting at the hotel

Professional guidance

Special access to the listed venues

WHAT'S EXCLUDED?

Lunch

Transportation

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OVERVIEW

The Rise of the Byzantium

Istanbul, or Byzantium as it was called at the time, was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for more than 1000 years. The city was known with many different names such as Nova Roma (New Rome), Augusta Antonina, Constantinople and so on. Founded in 330 AD by Constantine the Great, Byzantium became one of the largest and richest cities in the world, and remained so until the 15th century. The Eastern Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire as it has come to be known, built countless churches, palaces, infrastructure buildings, monastic complexes, columns, and other structures in and around Istanbul throughout history. The city was the center of trade, pilgrimage, education, trade, and diplomacy for many centuries under this empire.

Our “The Rise of the Byzantium” tour highlights not only Constantinople’s monumental architectural legacy, but also its ancient water systems, everyday life, public spaces (forums), celebrations, protests, religious life, as well as the palace life. On this special day, participants also learn about the colorful cultural landscape of the Byzantine Empire, just like their famous mosaics made from hundreds of different stones.


Highlights

Pantokrator Monastery: The Monastery of Christ Pantokrator is located on a hill with beautiful views of the Golden Horn. Built in the 12th century, the stunning structure, which is now turned into a mosque, was a large monastic complex with a hospital. It was one of the most ambitious imperial undertakings of Constantinople following the reign of Justinian. 

Valens Aqueduct Bridge: This 900 m long aqueduct bridge was built approximately 1650 years ago from large ashlar blocks during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Valens I. This bridge is only a small part of the once 250 km long system that brought fresh water from north of the city into the city’s historic marble drinking fountains that still remain to this day.Valens Aqueduct was repaired several times and functioned during the Ottoman Era as well until the 18th century.

Mystic world of ancient cisterns: There’s something almost mystical about entering the underground world of the historic cisterns that hide underneath the city. Unlike the world above-ground, these grand ruins are dressed in a deep silence that embraces visitors and very quietly tell them the tale of their past grandeur. It is estimated that there have been more than 200 underground cisterns in Istanbul and a few are open to visitors. You get to choose between two largest and most famous ones: Basilica Cistern, (Yerebatan Sarnıcı in Turkish) or Theodosius Cistern (Şerefiye Sarnıcı)

Byzantine Churches converted into mosques: After the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453 a great number of Byzantine churches were converted into mosques and they still function as mosques. In the scope of this tour, we will see several of them, which are free, underrated, and contain the architectural features of both Christian and Islamic architecture.

Ancient Forums of the Byzantium: Former Forum of Theodosius (Beyazıt Square), and former Forum of Constantine (Çemberlitaş) are the two historical sights that used to occupy the center of public life in Byzantium. They continue to be lively public squares of Istanbul.
Column of Constantine: Erected in 330 AD by Constantine I in order to commemorate the declaration of Constantinople as the new capital of the Roman Empire, this column is 35 m long and is made from several porphyry blocks, only found in Egypt.

Hippodrome: 4th century Hippodrome was the center of chariot racing as well as celebrations, protests, festivals, and so on. It was also a symbol of imperial power, decorated with large monuments brought from all over the empire that are still surviving. According to many historians, with its capacity for 40,000 people, Hippodrome was the center of urban life.

Little Hagia Sophia: The original name of Little Hagia Sophia was “The Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus” which was dedicated to two young saints: St. Sergius and St. Bacchus. This church, now converted to a mosque, was built in 536 CE by Justinian I and remains one of the most interesting examples of “church-mosques.”

Important Note: Some venues listed above will be seen from the exterior.


Who is this tour for?

  • Anyone who’s seen Istanbul’s most famous sights and wants to discover highlights of the city’s past imperial grandeur. 
  • Anyone interested in the Byzantine Empire and Byzantine monuments.
  • People that would like to get off the beaten path and explore Istanbul’s backstreets and hidden gems.

Why book with Istanbul Tour Studio?

  • We have been working with local historians, art historians, and archaeologists in order to design this unique tour, which provides a comprehensive understanding of Istanbul’s Byzantine past.
  • We love showing visitors more than just the usual tourist sights and this is an opportunity to introduce others to one of our favorite parts of the city.
  • Istanbul Tour Studio is rated “Excellent” on Tripadvisor. Click to read the latest reviews about us.
  • We have a team of knowledgeable and passionate staff who are trustworthy, friendly, and always on time.


How much is the private Rise of the Byzantium tour per person?

  • Our private Rise of Byzantium tour price is $120 USD/person for two people. ($240 USD/total for two adults)
  • Our prices are quoted per person. We require a minimum of two participants to organize this private tour. Please contact us if you'd like to book a private tour for one person. The prices include English speaking professional guidance and venue entrance fees/donations. We offer dynamic pricing which means as the number of people in your private group increases, our per person prices decrease. 
  • This tour costs $120 USD/person for two people; $95 USD/person for three people; $80 USD/person for four people; $70 USD/person for five people and $65 USD/person for six people. You will automatically get the dynamic pricing at the booking phase once you select the total number of people.
  • We give a 50% discount for children between 7-12 years old; meanwhile our tours are free for kids under 7 years old.
  • The prices quoted above are for the walking tour. If you are staying in Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu (Taksim) or Karaköy areas you can use public transportation such as tram, ferry or taxi. It would cost between $15 to $25 USD/total. Alternatively, we also offer private transportation with luxury Mercedes vans with professional drivers for $225USD/day.
  • Please contact us for custom pricing for groups over six people.


 Contact us for more information

Tour Curator
Alican Kutlay
PhD Candidate at Byzantine studies, Archeologist and Art Historian
Contact
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