After departing from Canakkale, a ferry will transport us across the Dardanelle Straits, taking us from the continent of Asia into Europe. The Dardanelle Straits is also the site of the famous Gallipoli Campaign, where over 40,000 Allied Troops died in an unsuccessful attempt to quickly defeat the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of World War I.
In the afternoon we arrive in Istanbul and visit the oldest shopping mall in the world, the one and only Grand Bazaar. Opened in 1461, the Grand Bazaar encompasses 58 covered streets and thousands of shops willing to barter with you for their unique wares: beautiful Turkish carpets, glazed tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, clothing, spices, fruits, Turkish Delight, and all sorts of other things. There is no place like it in the world. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
After a Sabbath morning worship service, we visit Istanbul. Few cities in the world have as rich history as Istanbul. Originally a small Greek city known as Byzantium, the Roman Emperor Constantine relocated the capital of the Roman Empire to this strategic location and renamed it Constantinople. Constantine and the emperors who followed him filled Constantinople with stunning buildings, monuments, churches, imperial palaces, and fortified walls so impregnable that they defended the city for over 1,000 years. We will visit the ancient Hippodrome, which is still adorned with the Obelisk of Thutmose III taken from Egypt and the remains of the Serpent Column, a monument from ancient Greece that celebrated the victory of the Greeks over the Persians, and the underground cistern of Justinian. The most magnificent monument we will visit from ancient Constantinople, however, is the Hagia Sophia, the church built by the emperor Justinian in 537.
Our tour also includes a visit to two historic monuments from the Ottoman Empire. The first site is the Blue Mosque built in 1609 by Sultan Ahmet. The Blue Mosque is named after its interior walls that are covered with twenty thousand blue Iznik tiles. Our sightseeing concludes with a visit to the exotic Topkapi Palace. The home of the Ottoman Emperors, the Topkapi Palace houses a unique Chinese porcelain collection, imperial costumes, and its most valuable possession, the 86-carat Spoon Maker’s Diamond. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul.
Early morning transfer to the airport to catch our 6:40 am flight to Munich and back to Spokane at 10:53 pm. What a trip. It will be one we will never forget!