Day 1. Arrival in Istanbul. Hotel accommodation. Dinner. An optional excursion through the city with a visit to the observation deck, overlooking the night in Istanbul (optional).
Day 2. Moving to Bursa. “Emerald City,” “Green Bursa” – the city has been praised with such epithets for centuries. Located on the north-western slopes of Uludag Mount, Bursa is surrounded by greenery all year round. At the same time you can occur at all times of the year climbing the snowy top of Uludag. Bursa was founded at the beginning of II century BC by king of Bithynia Prusias II and initially was called Prus. The town was a part of the Roman Empire and consequently of Byzantium. In 1326, after 10-year siege, Bursa was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and became the first capital of the Ottoman state.
Ulu-Jami – Great Mosque – is the largest mosque in Bursa, a monument of early-ottoman architecture of Seljuk style. The mosque was built (~1400) on the order of Sultan Bayezid II by architect Ali Najjar. The main architectural feature of the mosque is 20 domes arranged in four rows of five. There is a legend that the mosque was built instead of 20 separate mosques which Sultan promised to build after the victory in Nikopol (1396). Two minarets are towering above the mosque. The interior of the mosque includes 192 inscriptions – true examples of Islamic calligraphy – in addition to the traditional ornamental paintings.
The Green Mosque was built in the XV century. The facade is reveted with white marble and the walls of the prayer hall are covered with green faience which owes to the name of the mosque. The central facade and windows are decorated with carved marble. There is a swimming pool with a marble fountain ere the main hall. The interior walls are opulently decorated with Arabic script and painted in subtle floral ornaments. The entrance door is decorated with wooden carvings of fine work.
The cuisine of Bursa is famous for its features. You will have the opportunity to taste the world-famous dish – Iskender Kebab.
Visiting the shopping arcade (Covered Market, Silk Market) you will see the famous Bursa silk known since the Middle Ages.
Ottoman House Museum and the Museum of Karagoz will give an idea of the culture of lifeway and entertainment in the Ottoman period of Turkish history.
Day 3. Moving in Edirne will give you the opportunity to visit Gallipoli – Khersones Thracian first mentioned in the time of Alexander the Great. The heyday of the city came in the days of the Byzantine Empire, when Gallipoli became a major trading center. Gallipoli fully shared the fate of Thrace. Rulers and princes has changed, people who inhabited this land mixed with nomads. In 1354, the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks.
Edirne – Adrianople – is a city located in north-western Turkey, on the border with Greece and Bulgaria and founded by the Roman Emperor Hadrian on the site of an ancient Thracian settlement. Over more than two thousand years of history, the city passed from hand to hand changing the name, but still preserving the beauty and grandeur. The favorable geographical location and the unique nature of ancient Thrace made Edirne a bone of contention for centuries.
Edirne was joined to the Ottoman Empire in 1362. From 1365 till 1453 years Edirne was the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Selimiye Mosque (Selim II) proudly and majestically towers above the city on a high hill – great work of the architect Sinan, a gauge and pattern of the classic mosque, the pinnacle of Islamic architecture included to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The temple complex includes a hospital, school, library, madrasah, Hadith House, hour room and baths located around the mosque.
Your positive impressions of touring to the first capital of the Ottoman Empire will be strengthened by visiting restaurants serving traditional Turkish cuisine. You can taste the famous meatballs cooked in accordance with the recipes of the Ottoman era.
Mosque of Sultan Bayezid II, also known to modern tourists as a medical museum, was built in the XV century. Apart from the traditional mosque complex of that epoch, the Mosque of Bayezid II consisted of a hospital for treatment of the mentally ill persons, a school of doctors and a workshop for the preparation of medicines and potions.
Visiting the Eski Jami, the oldest mosque of the city (built in 1403), you can stroll through the ancient streets and reach the Kyrkpynar lawn hosting the competition of traditional wrestling in oil held for 500 years.
The medieval covered market of Semiz Ali Pasha built by Mimar Sinan gives a clear picture of the importance of Edirne in medieval trading. The building was severely damaged by fire in 1992. Restoration works have not yet finished; but, nonetheless, you can see a true evidence of the genius architect Sinan. Kul-Kapysy (“Gate Tower”) is rising opposite the north entrance to the market – the only remaining section of the city walls from the Byzantine times. After dinner, our guests will have an opportunity to stroll through the evening city or continue acquaintance with the Turkish culture by visiting the hamam (bath) of XV century.
Day 4. Moving to Istanbul. Familiarization with Istanbul starts from the historic city center, Sultanahmet. Sultanahmet (Old Town) is a district of Istanbul full with main historical showplaces: Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, the underground Cistern Basilica.
In the heart of Istanbul where the Golden Horn meets the Sea of Marmara, stands the temple of the Holy Wisdom – Hagia Sophia. St. Sophia of Constantinople – Hagia Sophia – is a former patriarchal Orthodox Cathedral, later a mosque and a museum now. Museum. Hagia Sophia has been the biggest church in Christendom for more than 1000 years before the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Hagia Sophia is the world famous monument of Byzantine architecture built during the reign of Justinian I. The temple, according to witnesses, “… reigned over the city like a ship on the waves of the sea”. The interior of the temple admired the visitors with its luxury and grandeur: gold mosaics, malachite and porphyry columns, golden iconostasis supported by two silver columns with golden capitals. Time and people did not spare the temple. The looting and plunder of the Cathedral by the Crusaders during the IV Crusade, the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453 and the transformation of the cathedral to mosque of Hagia Sophia heavily changed the ancient temple.
Modern Hippodrome is located on the site of a Roman hippodrome where numerous gladiator fights and chariot races were held. In the Ottoman period, the area was the center of the magnificent wedding rituals, court ceremonies and fairs.
Basilica Cistern is one of rare surviving underground reservoirs of the Byzantine period which was built during the reign of Justinian I. During the construction of the reservoir, hundreds of destroyed columns from pagan temples were used there. The cistern was built as a repository of fresh water supplies in case of a long siege of the city. Fresh water is stored in the cistern today as well.
Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) is one of the symbols of Istanbul. The unofficial name of “Blue” mosque owes to blue color tiles applied in the interiors.
Egyptian Bazaar is the second largest market in Istanbul. The name of “Egyptian Bazaar” dates back to the Ottoman period, when various spices were brought here from Egypt and sold in this market. Bazaar was built in 1660 in order to raise funds for the completion of the construction of the adjacent New Mosque (Mosque of Rustem Pasha).
It is hard to imagine a more scenic tour than a walk along the Bosporus. This is an opportunity to look at Istanbul located on two continents, to cover the whole panorama view of the city and to realize its uniqueness.