Our Byzantine Heritage tours start with a visit to the Hippodrome, which is one of the most important arenas of the Byzantine Empire. Then, we turn to the mysteries of the magnificent Hagia Sophia Museum. This sublime monument with the 4th largest dome in the world was built on the orders of Emperor Justinian between the years 532 to 537. It was the largest cathedral in the world when it was built. And now this 6th-century marvel continues to leave its thousands of visitors in awe every single day.
One of the unique underground museums of the world is the Basilica Cistern, also known as the Underground Palace, with its palatial marble pillars, interior lighting, exquisite acoustics, and matchless architecture. The Cistern was built to provide the Byzantine Empire with the water supply it needed and has been opened to visitors as a museum since 1987.
One of the most interesting sites of Istanbul is the Chora Museum. The contradiction between its outstanding interior full of wonders and its humble exterior makes the experience for visitors especially memorable. The Chora Museum is an 11th-c. Greek Orthodox Church in which you cannot help but be impressed by the most beautiful examples of Byzantine mosaics. These glamorous mosaics are covered with chronological scenes from the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.
The major reason that Istanbul has been the legendary city that refused to surrender is its 22-km City Walls surrounding the city. Even the Great Wall of China, which is unmatched in terms of its length, cannot compare with the strength of the City Walls of Istanbul. The first ones to breach these walls were Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, the Conqueror, and his army in 1453.
Officially known around the world as the Fener Greek Patriarchate in Turkey and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinopolis, this dignitary institution is the spiritual leader for the Orthodox world with 250 million believers. The Patriarchate moved to its present residency in 1602, which was restored in the 1800s to get its current appearance.