Walking Tour of Byzantine Istanbul – I
Byzantine Istanbul Tour – Private Walking Tour with Serif Yenen or one of his colleagues from the Serif Yenen Private Guides Team.
Istanbul has such a rich Byzantine Heritage. Former name of Istanbul was Constantinople and it served as the capital for the Byzantine Empire for more than 1000 years.
How did Byzantine Istanbul Tour happen?
In 330 AD, Constantine the Great chose Byzantium as the new capital for the Roman Empire. The name of the city was first changed into Nea Roma (New Rome), later to Constantinople after his name. Constantine the Great donated the city with lots of public buildings, streets, monuments and a forum with his own name. He built new walls enlarging the city. The population is believed to have risen to 170 thousand from about 25-30 thousand. He allowed Christianity and started building churches including the first version of the Hagia Sophia and Hagia Irene.
Theodosius I banned paganism with an edict in 392 AD and divided the Roman Empire into two in 395 AD. He split the empire into Eastern and Western between his two sons. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, but the Eastern Roman Empire continued for more than 1000 years and was also called as the Byzantine Empire by historians.
By adding new defensive walls in the early 5th century, Theodosius II enlarged the city even more. These walls stopped tens of armies attacking Constantinople in the following centuries.
As the largest city of Europe for centuries, Constantinople was a major center of trade, art, architecture, and literature. Though the empire fell more than five centuries ago, much of this long lost era lies underneath Ottoman and modern Istanbul. In this tour, we will explore some of the lesser known gems of Byzantium, including churches, monumental columns, and other sites as we stroll through the old city.
There will be good photo opportunities and a lunch stop (not included in the price) at a restaurant with good local food.
Come join us to discover the Byzantine Istanbul ↗ in the Historic Peninsula located within the City Walls.
Private Walking Tour of Byzantine Istanbul Tour Program Summary
(There may be changes in the program)
- This private tours of istanbul will start in the Sultanahmet area – details to be provided to registrants later.
- Orientation and short intro about the Byzantine history.
- Panoramic Terrace
- Magnaura Palace Ruins
- Hagia Eirene
- Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya Mosque)
- Lunch break at a casual restaurant with good local food
- Forum of Constantine & Column of Constantine
- Theodosius Cistern (Şerefiye Cistern)
- Nakkas Cistern with the exhibition on Hippodrome
- Eresin Hotel Collections
- Church of St Sergius and Bacchus (Küçük Ayasofya Mosque)
- Boukoleon Palace
- The tour will end in the area of the Boukoleon Palace.
Note for private tours of istanbul :
- Let us remind you that ladies are required to wear scarves and decent clothing during mosque visits.
- This private tours of istanbul is the first of the two Byzantine Istanbul tours. The second one is a driving tour focusing on the Byzantine monuments scattered around the Old City (Constantinople). Take a look at it at the link here: Driving Tour of Byzantine Istanbul – II
Byzantine Istanbul Tour Highlights
- Private walking tour only for you, no other participants.
- Discover some of the unknown or lesser-known Byzantine places.
- Receive some complimentary copies of Serif Yenen’s publications.
- Lunch break will be at a very good casual local restaurant with traditional food.
- Catch picturesque instants with your camera.
Byzantine Istanbul Tour Meeting Point and Time:
- As this is a private tour only for you with no other participants, we can start the tour anytime you like.
- Depending on the location of your hotel, we may pick you up from your hotel by public transport or we may meet you at a certain point in the Old City.
- This tour is available everyday.
Duration of the Tour:
- It will take about 5-6 hours.
- The price is $250.00 USD per person (Minimum 2 participants).
- Children up to the age of 6 are free.
- For the confirmation of the tour, we will kindly ask you to make online payment by clicking on “BOOK NOW” button on this page.
What is Included?
- Professional private tour guide services by Serif Yenen or one of his team members.
- Orientation and introduction about the Byzantine history
- Some complimentary copies of Serif’s publications.
- Tea/coffee breaks.
- Entrance fees and costs to the places to be visited.
What is not Included?
- Personal expenses
- Gratuity to the guide (optional). Byzantine Istanbul
This tour is operated by A-group Travel Agency “Serif Yenen Travel” licensed by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism (Licence number: 8860)
What is the Byzantine Heritage in Istanbul?
The Byzantine heritage in Istanbul, Turkey, is a rich and extensive cultural and historical legacy left behind by the Byzantine Empire, which was the eastern continuation of the Roman Empire and had its capital in Byzantium, later known as Constantinople and now Istanbul. This heritage encompasses a wide range of architectural, artistic, and historical elements that reflect the Byzantine period’s significance in the city’s history. Some of the Byzantine Heritage sites in Istanbul that you can only visit with a “private tours of Istanbul” are:
- Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya): Originally built as a cathedral in the 6th century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, the Hagia Sophia is an iconic architectural masterpiece and a symbol of Byzantine engineering and artistry. It served as a cathedral for nearly a millennium before being converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period and later into a museum. In 2020, it was reconverted into a mosque.
- Theodosian Walls: These ancient defensive walls were built during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II in the 5th century to protect the city from invaders. They are an excellent example of Byzantine military architecture and remain partly intact.
- Chora Church (Kariye Museum): Originally a Byzantine church, the Chora Church is renowned for its stunning mosaics and frescoes that depict various religious scenes. It is considered a masterpiece of Byzantine art.
- Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı): This underground cistern, constructed during the reign of Emperor Justinian I, once stored water for the city. It features a forest of ancient columns and has an eerie, atmospheric feel.
- Hippodrome of Constantinople: The Hippodrome was an ancient chariot racing track and the center of public life in Byzantine Constantinople. While the original structure is mostly gone, some monuments from the era still stand, including the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Serpent Column.
- Istanbul Archaeological Museums: These museums house a vast collection of artifacts from the Byzantine era, including sculptures, mosaics, and religious relics.
- Blachernae Palace: This was one of the most important palaces of the Byzantine emperors and played a significant role in the city’s history. While the palace itself no longer exists, the Blachernae neighborhood still holds historical importance.
- Galata Tower: Originally known as the Tower of Christ, this medieval tower was built by the Genoese in the 14th century. It’s a notable structure in the city’s skyline and reflects the multicultural history of Istanbul.
These are just a few examples of the Byzantine heritage in Istanbul. The city’s rich history and strategic location have resulted in a diverse range of historical sites and artifacts that span multiple empires and eras, making Istanbul a unique and captivating destination for history enthusiasts. For more, please join our private Byzantine Istanbul Tour (private tours of istanbul).