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Discover the Hidden Secrets of Sultan Ahmet Square
The Blue Mosque is known the world over and is arguably the most iconic site in Istanbul (and there are many jostling for that accolade.) The stunning hand painted blue tiles adorning the interior lend it the name. But it is officially the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet, built on the orders of the 20-year-old Sultan Ahmet 1. His final resting place is inside.
The Blue Mosque is not the only treasure in the Sultanahmet district.
We cross the square to the Church of St Sophia – the Hagia Sophia. This is the enduring symbol of Constantinople, the historical name for Istanbul.
The Byzantine Church of the Holy Wisdom of God was the Orthodox cathedral of Constantinople. After the Ottoman conquest, the church became a mosque and then a museum in 1934.
From here we discover hidden Istanbul as we enter a whole new world beneath the city. The Cistern of Philoxenos or the ‘Sunken Palace’, the water reservoir of Emperor Justinian was constructed in 535AD.
There are 338 Doric, Ionian and Corinthian columns of marble, some 30 feet high. At the end of the chamber we will find two carved column bases featuring the head of Medusa, the winged creature of mythology with venomous snakes in place of hair. Above ground and below it, this is a fascinating glimpse into the past of a great city. A gentle walking tour is available for this itinerary – please contact us for more information.