Istanbul: Shadow of the Sultans

May 9, 2023 @

May 17, 2023 @


A boutique excursion with Laurie Klein
May 9-17, 2023
“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul” ~ Alphonse de Lamartine
“If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte.  While it may not be the capital of the Earth, it has been the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Ottoman Empire, both of which were major influencers in history. It has been known as Byzantium, Constantinople, Stamboul, and Istanbul but has always been of both strategic and cultural importance. Istanbul is definitely a city to be seen, tasted, smelled, and explored. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, Europe and Asia, and that is just one of the many reasons Istanbul is so fascinating. It is the Bosphorus strait, a winding 18km waterway connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, which separates the two continents and therefore the city. The city’s population is officially 16 million, but it is suspected that there are closer to 20 million actually living in Istanbul whose footprint on the map is bell-shaped, being about 150km wide at the bottom, narrowing at the top along the Black Sea coast. The city is a fascinating blend of modernity and antiquity, religion and secularism, disorganization and efficiency. The people are a mix of all races, religions, and ethnicities that have passed through or ruled the region and the hospitality is unparalleled, making every visitor an honored guest.
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Please be aware ongoing renovations of the antiquities may require changes to these plans

Day 1 Arrival and transfer to The Bank Hotel ( Near the Galata Bridge, the Tünel, the newly opened Galata Port, and the bustling cafes and boutiques of Karaköy. Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2 Start the day with a private boat cruise on the Bosphorus, the dividing line between Europe and Asia, with stops in Kuzguncuk, a village on the Asian shore with an artistic flair and picturesque old wooden houses. and Çukurcuma, a Europe neighborhood known for its antiques.

Day 3 We’ll go by tram to the old part of the city and start our journey at Topkapı Palace, the main palace of the Ottoman sultans until 1856. where we will see the Imperial Treasury with an 86-carat diamond, the famed Harem, and stunning views of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn, and the Sea of Marmara. After lunch, we’ll visit Yerebatan Saray, the 6th-century underground cistern, followed by a stroll through the Hippodrome and a visit to the Blue Mosque. Our final stop will be the Hagia Sophia, an architectural marvel of the world built in the 500’s by Justinian. That evening we will attend a Whirling Dervish ceremony.

Day 4 We will explore the Golden Horn (Haliç), the estuary that runs into the mouth of the Bosphorus and on whose shores are some of the older and more interesting neighborhoods of Istanbul. These villages are filled with quaint old buildings and newly opened atmospheric cafes and shops. From there we will go to Eyup, the cemetery where the Prophet Mohammad’s standard bearer (Eyup) is buried. The area surrounding the mosque and tomb is covered with wonderful old Ottoman graveyards and at the top of the hill is the Pierre Loti cafe with a wonderful view of the Golden Horn.

Day 5 The Süleymaniye Mosque, one of the Ottoman architect Sinan’s masterpieces, is first on our itinerary today, followed by a small jewel of a mosque, the Rüstem Paşa, which is filled with incredible Iznik tile work. From there we will visit the historic Spice Market (Mısır Çarşısı) and lastly, we will wander through the old European district of Pera with its majestic turn-off-the-century buildings and bustling atmosphere.

Day 6 Today we will visit Zeyrek, an interesting neighborhood dominated by the Byzantine Church of the Pantocrator (now a mosque) and the 4th-century aqueduct of Valens. There is also a lively market commonly called the Women’s Bazaar featuring foods from the Siirt region of Turkey. We will visit the Sunday bird market, a colorful event with aficionados checking out each bird’s qualities.

Day 7 We will travel via boat and spend the day on the Princes’ Islands, a small archipelago in the Sea of Marmara about an hour away. These islands were places of exile in the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires but became summer resorts for many wealthy Istanbullu in the 19th century. There are still historical churches and monasteries on the islands.

Day 8 Our final – and free – day! For those who wish to explore the Grand Bazaar, we will set off early to do an orientation tour after which you can shop as long as you like or wander elsewhere. You can revisit one of your favorite sites, explore something new, visit a museum, drink Turkish tea all day, pamper yourself with a trip to a Hamam (reservations needed) or just wander the city with your camera.


COST: $4,800.00, double occupancy

Hotel (double occupancy)
All breakfasts and lunches
Transfer to and from the airport and hotel
Entrance fees and site donations
Transportation in Istanbul – private and public
English-speaking guides

Not included
Evening meals
Alcoholic beverages at any meal
Fee to obtain your Turkish Visa
Personal expenses and souvenirs

Cancellation Policy 

We would deeply regret your decision to cancel your tour; however, we realize this can happen for many valid reasons. In case of cancellation, refunds less the applicable cancellation fee will be made within 14 days of receipt of your written cancellation request. The cancellation fee will be calculated as follows:

For a reservation canceled up to 45 days before departure – no charge
For a reservation canceled from 30 to 45  days before departure -50% of the total trip cost
For a reservation canceled less than 30 days before departure – 100% of the total trip cost


May 9, 2023 @
May 17, 2023 @
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