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Byzantine Day

Departure to visit the Roman Hippodrome, where we will visit the Obelisk of Theodosio, The Serpentine Column, The German Fountain and The Constantine Column.

The highlight of the day's' tour will be our visit to the first floor of the Basilica Saint Sophia, the monumental Byzantine Church dating from the year 360. The present structure was inaugurated in 532 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. During this this long period Aya Sofya has served as a Byzantine Basilica, a Roman Catholic Church, and a Mosque. Since 1935, it has been a museum, where extraordinary mosaics and frescoes may be seen..

Following on from Aya Sofya, we will then visit the nearby subterranean Basilica Cistern with its 300 columns, a place where water was collected, for imperial use, from late Roman time and then throughout the Byzantine period. The structure that you will see was first begun by non other than Emperor Constantine himself, and later extended a hundred years later by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in the year 532. It is the most extensive and accessible cistern from about three or so still existing below the streets of modern Istanbul.

Lunch will be in Restaurant Zeyrekhane, situated next to the Byzantine Church of Christ Pantocrator, with spectacular views over the city and the Golden Horn, or, alternatively lunch, we will eat in Restaurant Asitane, situated next to the Church of Saint Salvador of Cora.

In the evening we will visit the small Byzantine Church, and former monastery, of Saint Salvador of Cora with its many delicate and extraordinary frescoes depicting biblical scenes and Byzantine church history. These frescoes are in a fine state of preservation as they were dutifully covered over at the commencement of the Ottoman period only to be rediscovered in our own time. The Cora Church is also now a museum.