Sunday 07 May 2023
Highlights: Exploring less visited areas of Istanbul, visting Tekfur Palace, Cruising the Bosphorus Strait
Today was the final offical day of the G Adventures ‘Best of Turkey’ tour, which really is normally just an included breakfast but today I had booked an extra option the Alternative Istanbul Walking Tour and Bosphorus Cruise which goes for about 8 hours. I had hoped to do this option before the main tour but my flights got pusged back and didn’t have the time.
A few members of our tour did this before we left Istanbul, this time it was the amazing Charlotte and myself plus 5 others most who are starting their tours with a group meeting at 6.30 pm today.
Ihsan was our leader today and after two different tram rides to the Constantinople Walls where we learned some of the history of the city including how on 29 May 1453 AD, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, lead by Sultan Mehmed II, and the Byzantine Empire came to an end. Constantinople was then effectively transformed into the Islamic city of Istanbul and the Orthodox Greek religion was mostly replaced.
This religious take over was highlighted in many of the areas we visited today, while some Jewish Synagogues and Orthodox Churches initially survived they have over the centuries been replaced. We say a number of former Churches (some converted to Mosques) and Synagogues (which were closed or destroyed).
Next up was a short visit to Tekfur Palace, also know as The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (or Palace of the Sovereign). This is where Sultan Mehmed II stayed initially on the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD and declared himself the new Roman Emperor. The Palace was constructed during the late 13th Century and provides some great views of Istanbul.
We had a nice included lunch at a tiny place called Teras Cafe, the meatballs with cheese that I had was amazing.
We then moved onto The Ecumenical Patriarchate which is the Orthodox Church with the leader for this region. A previous Ecumenical Patriarch, Gregory V, was hang in 1821 from the doors to this complex.
From here we caught a local bus to the starting place of our Bosphorus Strait cruise, the bus ride was a little hair rising for the quick movements from acceleration to quick stop.
The Bosphorus Strait cruise went for 1.5 hours and provided a great view of both the Asian and European sides of the city. It did get a little cold at times but well worth it for the sights.
Later that night I caught up with Dan and Susan and we went out for a local dinner followed by watching the sunset from the rooftop of our hotel. Just a stunning sunset. Now time to fly to Kyrgyzstan tomorrow night.