Spend a day in Istanbul's ancient Fener district, seat of the Rum Patriarchate, heart of Orthodox Christianity. Explore beautiful churches and monasteries central to the evolution of Orthodox Christianity in Istanbul, known as the Second Rome.
What to Expect
Spend the day with on a private, guided tour of the churches, monasteries, and other historical sites that constitute the heart of Christianity in Istanbul.
In the ancient district of Fener, the Rum Patriarchate is the heart of Orthodox Christianity. After Constantine the Great's declaration of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire, the capital was moved from Rome to Byzantium, as Istanbul was then called.
After the Patriarchate, you will visit the Church of Panagia of Blachernae, the best known and most celebrated shrine of the Holy Virgin, located near Istanbul's Golden Horn. It is famous for the Hagiasma (fountain of holy water) – which is believed to cure health problems in people who drink the water. The Hagion Lousma (sacred bath) is said to cleanse the souls of people who bathe in its waters – including the Roman emperor himself.
Next we will visit St. Savior in Chora (Kariye Museum), which was originally a Byzantine monastery. It has been preserved with its many impressive mosaics and frescoes that portray scenes from the Bible, including the life and miracles of Jesus Christ.
The Pantocrator (Zeyrek) was one of the largest and best organized monastic complexes of the Byzantine period, comprising of two churches and a funerary chapel, baths, a hospice for the aged, a hospital and a medical school, a hostel for travelers, and a library.
Next comes the Church of St. Mary Pammacaristos (Fethiye), built in the 11th century by John Comnenus. It originally belonged to a convent of nuns, but also housed the Patriarchate for a short while after the conquest.
From there, we will visit the Zoodochos Pege at Balıklı, dedicated to the Mother of God at Pege. See the underground cistern full of gold fish that represent a Biblical miracle, and the fountain of holy water.
We will be able to see St. Sergius & Bacchus, a landmark in Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture from the outside only. This building is known as “Little Hagia Sophia” for its blueprints precursor to the real Hagia Sophia.
After this, we will stop to take a break for lunch.
To finish off the afternoon, we will see Hagia Eirene, the old patriarchal church next to Hagia Sophia. And finally, we will spend time at Hagia Sophia, which for many centuries was the largest church of Christendom. It was dedicated to the concept of divine wisdom – an attribute of Jesus Christ. Emperors were crowned here, and many battle victories were celebrated inside this magnificent building.
- Private transportation (with air-conditioning)
- Museum entrance fees
- Private guide speaking your chosen language
- Parking fees
- Sultanahment entrance fee
- V.A. Tax (18%)
- Pick-up/drop-off from central located hotels
Know Before You Go
St. Chora is closed on Wednesdays.
St. Sophia is closed on Mondays.
• After booking, you need to call the local supplier in order to learn exact time and free shuttle availability.
• Pick-up is only available for centrally located Istanbul hotels. When verifying your booking, your local supplier will advise you on alternative meeting points for hotels which are not accessible.
• Free shuttle pick-up is offered between 08:00 and 09:00 (depending on the location of your hotel), and takes 45 to 60 minutes.