Discover the glories of Ottoman-era architecture on this 10-hour small-group guided tour to the city of Edirne, once known as Hadrianopolis. Besides the Selimiye Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you'll visit the Old Mosque (Eski Camii), the Uc Serefeli Mosque, the Sultan Beyazit II Mosque Complex, and the Grand Bazaar. You'll also see the 12th-century Tower Gate and 19th-century New Bridge. Tour includes entrance fees and lunch.
Expect pickup from your central Istanbul hotel by 8am for the 2.5-hour drive to the city of Edirne, founded by the Roman emperor Hadrian in 125 AD, and for many years an important gateway between Europe and the East. You'll travel by minivan in air-conditioned comfort.
Start your tour at the Old Mosque (Eski Camii), built from cut stone and brick between 1402 and 1414. Take time to admire the fine white marble portal and the elaborate calligraphy on the interior walls.
Next, visit the Uc Serefeli Mosque, a 15th-century limestone mosque. Note the unusual minaret with three balconies, each with separate stairways.
Now it's time for Edirne's crowning glory, the UNESCO-listed Selimiye Mosque. Built by Sinan, the legendary Ottoman architect, for Selim II in the late sixteenth century, it's considered the masterpiece of his old age. Its serene symmetry and soaring central dome make this truly a glorious piece of religious architecture.
Break for an included Turkish lunch at a local restaurant, before your city tour continues. Your next stop is the Grand Bazaar, an elaborate covered market that's also the work of Sinan. You may wish to pick up a souvenir of Edirne, such as the city's specialty, soaps designed to look like fruit or even vegetables, here.
Next, take a quick look at the 19th-century New Bridge, which spans the meeting point of the Meric and Arda rivers, and admire the Tower Gate (Kule Kapisi). This 12th-century structure is all that remains of what was once the citadel's principal gate: the Byzantine emperor John II Kommenos constructed it when he repaired Hadrian's defenses.
Finally, you'll visit the Sultan Beyazit II Mosque Complex, the largest set of religious buildings in Edirne. Besides the mosque and madrasa, the complex boasted a hospital, with famously skilled surgeons, and an octagonal dome where the insane were treated with music therapy.
You'll leave Edirne around 3:30pm, returning to your hotel around 6pm, traffic depending.