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Istanbul tour packages

Attractions Away From the Center of Istanbul

By Seif Kamel

Away from the heart of the city of Istanbul, there are several monuments and historical sites that are quite remarkable. For example the Theodosia Walls that stretches from the Golden Horn to the Marmara Sea is one of the marvelous monuments of Istanbul.

Along these walls, many historical palaces and churches are situated, especially this of Saint Savior in Chora with its impressive mosaic works. Many of these attractions are included in many Istanbul tour packages.

If one goes to the north direction with the Bosporus, he will reach the Dolmabache Palace, one of the wonders of Istanbul that should not be ever missed.  There is also the Yildiz Park with many other palaces and pavilions.

Not all the tourists who spend their holiday in Istanbul have the time to explore the Asian section of the city; however it is always worth a visit at least on a half day tour.  The attractions there include impressive mosques, an old railway station, and a museum built for Florence Nightingale. Any private tour to Turkey would include a visit to these monuments.

The Dolmabache Palace

The Dolmabache Palace was built by Sultan Abdel Megid in 1856 and he assigned Karabet Balyan and his son Nikogos as the designers of the palace. They were members of the Armenian community that built many marvelous structures and palaces around the Bosporus during the 19th century.

The marvelous architecture and extensive expensive decorations of the Dolmabache Palace contradicts the fact that the palace was constructed during the period that witnessed the decline of the Ottoman Empire and control over many regions in the Middle East and even beyond.

The reason behind this high class construction of this palace is that the Sultan has funded the building of the Dolmabache Palace depending mainly on foreign loans from other European countries,

When the guests who spend their vacations in Turkey visit the Dolmabache Palace they have to go on one of the two guided tours. The most enjoyable among them is the tour that explores the Salamlek, the section of the palace that was reserved for men and it contains the states room and the Economic Ceremonial Hall.

The other tour takes you to the Haramlek, the section specified for the women in the palace which also contains some amazing sections and remarkable features.

Once the guest reaches the entrance of the Dolmabache Palace, they will be amazed by the Imperial Gates. Once only used by the Sultan and his ministers, this gate now is the main entrance to the palace. The Janissary band performs their show every Tuesday in front of the Imperial Gate.

Among the most astonishing features of the Dolmabache Palace is the crystal staircases that never failed to amaze any of the guests of the palace since its establishment and even until today.  It has the shape of a double horseshoe and it was made out of crystal and brass.

The Dolmabache Palace contains many remarkable features including the Swan Fountain built in the original 16th century garden near the palace. There is also the Ceremonial Hall that was designed to host up to 2500 persons in official ceremonies.

The Church of Saint Saviour in Chora

 This is one of the best preserved Byzantine Churches in Turkey. The complex has some of the finest mosaics and frescos in the whole country. This is the most popular Christian monument in Turkey that is visited by hundreds of tourists everyday who spend marvelous trips in Turkey.

Scholars were not able to know a lot about the early history of the Church, however, its name "In Chora" that means "in the country" assert that it was originally built in a rural area.

The Church that we see today was built around the 11th century and it was rebuilt again in the middle of the 14th century adding the mosaics and frescos. Many Turkey private tours include a visit to the church as part of the guest’s stay in Istanbul.

The crown of the southern dome of the church has the figure of the Christ and his ancestors were drawn on the flutes of the dome in a marvelously designed scene.

There are three panels in the nave of the church with one of them demonstrating the "Dorrmation of the Virgin" and it was well preserved because of its outer marble protection frame. The Virgin is depicted lying down watched by Apostles and Christ seated at the back.

The frescoes of the church were probably built around 1320 and most of them display scenes from the Old and the New Testaments.  Anastasia is the name of the most famous fresco in the church. It has a central image of the Christ and beneath him there are the gates of hell and an image of Satan.

This Church is one of the greatest all over Europe and it is usually added to many escorted Turkey tours.

The Theodosian Walls

This set of double walls that contains 11 gates and 192 monitoring towers has defended Constantinople against outer invasions for more than one thousand years.

The walls stretch for a distance that is around 6.5 kilometers from the Golden Horn to the Marmara Sea. The walls are built out of red rocks that are empowered by limestone blocks. Many vacations in Turkey would include a visit to the walls and the monuments around them.

The guests who spend tours in Istanbul can reach the walls by metro. However touring all around the long length of the walls will require hiring a taxi to go along the road that inline with the walls.

These walls were built of Theodosia, the Byzantine Empire in the period between 412 and 422 and they have stopped many attackers from entering the city and endured many sieges.

The Theodosian Walls were the last obstacle that faced Mohamed the Conqueror and he was able to pass through them in May of the year 1453 and enter Constantinople. Passing by the walls and entering the city are the achievements of Sultan Mohamed which gave him the title, the conqueror. This Sultan had many establishments in the country that remain visited by a large number of tourists who spend trips in Turkey.

Off course many sections of the walls were rebuilt for a number of times but the new constructions indicate how the original walls looked like. Several gates are still original and survived in a good shape. However, a section of the walls was destroyed in 1954 to give way to a new road.

The Yedikule Gate, standing near the castle that holds the same name, is one of the most remarkable gates of the Theodosian Walls with its Byzantine eagle carved above the main archway.

The main hall of the palace, designed to host around 2500 guests, is the ceremonial hall. The chandelier being the heaviest in the whole world, 4.5 tons, was brought to the palace from England.

Alabaster from Egypt was imported to coat the walls of the main bathroom of the palace. With the taps made out of pure silver, the colored windows of the bathroom of the palace used to offer the Sultan, his guests, and his wives amazing views of the Bosporus.

The Church of Saint John the Studius

This is the oldest surviving Church in Istanbul. However, what remains of what was once a great structure is a shell consisting of its outer walls. However, the guests can still view the beauty of one of the most important Byzantine churches in the region. Many tours to Turkey would include exploring the Christian monuments of the Istanbul.

The Church which was built by Studius, a roman Patriarch, was constructed in 463 AD.  The church was associated with the most powerful monastery in the Byzantine Empire and it was modified to be a famous spiritual and intellectual center in the 8th century.

The most sacred relics among the church was the head of John the Baptist until it was removed by the forth crusade soldiers.The church was transformed into a university in the 15th century and at the end it was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans.

The whole structure of the church was ruined in 1894 due to an earthquake and it was abandoned. An escorted tour to Turkey that combines Christian with Ottoman monuments would be quite enjoyable.

The Church of Saint John the Studius originally consisted of a beautiful basilica with a marvelous entrance portal with many rich decorations that travelers going on Turkey private tours explore everyday.

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