Seven Hills of Istanbul and Theodosian Walls
Driving & Walking Tour with Serif Yenen or one of his colleagues from the Serif Yenen Private Guides Team.
Seven has always been a mystical number and a favorite digit of many people in the world. Think about stories of the creation of the world, seven sins and seven virtues, seven heavens, seven days of creation, seven gates and layers of hell, or terms of our everyday life such as seven days a week, seven colors of the rainbow, seven notes on the musical scale, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and so on.
Just like Rome, Constantinople was also built on seven hills. Constantinople was the capital of three great empires – the Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman. The first hill was in the oldest acropolis, in those times the city was called as Byzantium.
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.
The seven hills of Constantinople spread all over the city until the Theodosian Walls. This is a large area to cover by walk. That’s why we do the tour with a van, making stops on every hill.
Each hill was surmounted by monumental religious buildings (churches under the Byzantines, imperial mosques under the Ottomans).
The tour program will rather focus on getting the sense of the City of Seven Hills rather than visiting the interiors of each monument. Monuments will be seen from outside. 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 Seven Hills of Istanbul in the Historic Peninsula located within the Old City Walls.
Seven Hills of Istanbul and Theodosian Walls-Program Summary
(There may be changes in the program)
- The tour will start from your hotel.
- Orientation and short intro about the Byzantine and Ottoman history.
- The first hill on which the ancient city of Byzantium was founded, covers the whole area of the Hagia Sophia, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the Topkapı Palace.
- The second hill is in the area of the Grand Bazaar. Column of Constantine is still standing there.
- Lunch at a restaurant (lokanta) with good local food.
- The third hill is now occupied by the main buildings of Istanbul University, the Bayezid II Mosque and the Süleymaniye Mosque.
- Bozdoğan (Valens) Aqueduct stretching between the third and fourth hills.
- The fourth hill on which stood the Church of the Holy Apostles and, subsequently, the Fatih Mosque, slopes down to the Golden Horn.
- On the fifth hill is the Mosque of Sultan Selim. A gigantic open-air cistern from the Byzantine period is located just next to the mosque.
- The sixth hill is in Edirnekapı by the Theodosian Walls. Architect Sinan’s Mihrimah Mosque dominates this hill.
- Drive along the Theodosian Walls.
- The seventh hill extends from Aksaray to the Marmara Sea. It is a broad hill with three summits producing a triangular area in the middle of Topkapı, Aksaray, and Yedikule. Another gigantic open-air cistern from the Byzantine period takes place here.
- The tour will end either at your hotel or anywhere you like to be dropped off on the way back to the hotel.
- Private tour only for you, no other participants.
- Discover some of the unknown or lesser-known places that spread out in the Old City.
- Lunch break will be at a very good casual local restaurant with traditional food
- Catch picturesque instants with your camera.
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.
- The tour will start from your hotel and end either at your hotel or anywhere you like to be dropped off on the way back to the hotel.
- This tour is available everyday.
Duration of the Tour:
- It will take about 6-7 hours.
- The price is $300.00 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 tour guide services by Serif Yenen or one of his team members.
- Orientation and introduction about the Byzantine and Ottoman history
- Some complimentary copies of Serif’s publications.
- Transportation in a private van.
- Tea/coffee breaks.
- Entrance fees and costs to the places to be visited.
What is not Included?
- Personal expenses
- Gratuity to the guide (optional)
This tour is operated by A-group Travel Agency “Serif Yenen Travel” licensed by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism (Licence number: 8860)