City of Civilizations- Galata Tour (Private)
What is the best way to discover Istanbul?
The journey begins at and runs through the Magnifica Comunita di Galata, the birthplace of Istanbul’s modern part. Once a Latin colony near ancient Constantinopolis, just across the Golden Horn, later the settling place for foreign missions to the Ottoman Empire and to the Turkish Republic, Galata is often referred to as Europe within Istanbul, and still boasts the traces of different civilizations. Within this context, the district 'Galata' is like an undiscovered treasure. In addition to historical monuments, it harbors an extremely enjoyable and colorful lifestyle. The impressive narrow streets are hosting colorful and historical houses, unique boutique cafés, buskers, art galleries and small souvenir shops make this district a special one. The tour starts at Neve Shalom synagogue in Galata. The central and largest Sephardic synagogue Neve Shalom ('Oasis of peace' or 'Valley of peace') is a synagogue that was built to serve the growing Jewish population in the Galata neighborhood. Visiting the museum gives you the opportunity of seeing some part of the synagogue from the window of the museum, and while you are visiting the museum you are visiting the synagogue at the same time. The visit gives important insight into the great culture of Sephardic Jews, as well as their ties with and contributions to Turkish culture through the centuries. Then we pass on to the Galata Tower. Galata Tower is one of the highest and oldest towers of İstanbul with its 63 meters. It was built in the 14th century, by the Genoese colony as part of the defense wall. We go up to the top floor of the tower and enjoy the great panoramic view of the old town, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn. Because it is one of Istanbul’s highest towers, you have a great chance to have one of the best photos of the city. You can also testify the place where the first Turk flew from Galata Tower to Asia-Üsküdar. After the joyous viewing, we head inside the tower. Here you can enjoy having your picture taken with original Ottoman garments, to have a great memory. After the Galata Tower, we head to the Doğan Apartments by passing from the narrow streets and historical colorful houses of the Galata neighborhood. In these streets, we also see the traces of different civilizations who had an important place in the Ottoman lifestyle, especially in jewel crafting for the sultans and the members of the dynasty. Here we can see several craftsmen who inherited the secrets of the crafting trade, from their ancestors who lived in the Ottoman period. We specify the most professional jewel crafting on the way to the Doğan Apartments, we visit a hidden craft in jewel which is unique and produced as only one piece. The Doğan Apartments is a yellow u-shaped building and has a very adventurous history that began as an embassy and is now an apartment complex that everybody dreams to live in. It has a dark main door and it is open sometimes. Then there is another door. When you open it you reach the real beauty of a green courtyard. Behind the garden lies the brilliant blue of the Bosphorus. Doğan Apartments have been the setting for some famous movies and music videos. Mostly artists, writers, celebrities, and ex-pats who live in İstanbul have been guest residences of this apartment. After we greet and take some photos of Doğan Apartments, we go on strolling through narrow streets and we arrive at greenery where the Crimea church is hidden. The neo-gothic Crimea church was built by Sultan Abdülmecit, to honor the English soldiers who attended to and fell at the Crimean war, in alliance with the Ottomans. After immersing ourselves in Galata’s illustrious past and dynamic present, in which different civilizations, religions, nations, and cultures interlocked through centuries of living together, we take a break to see how the experience so far has inspired our artist within. So the next stop will be the workshop. In this part, you will make wood carving with your own creativity. The only thing you need to have here is to use your own ideas and create something according to your dreams. Whatever you create in the workshop, with the help of the craftsman, you can own them. In this way, you will be having a great memory made by you in Turkey and use it for yourself or as an amazing present. After we use our creative ideas, we head to the most popular shopping street in Galata, the 'Galip Dede'. The street consists of traditional souvenir shops, art galleries, music instruments shops, etc. When we follow the way down we reach another district called ‘Eminönü’ (20 min. walking distance - taxi might be used-fee is not included). Before we head to Eminönü we have lunch in a terrace restaurant with a great view. One of the most traditional things to do in Turkey is drinking Turkish coffee after lunch. There we go to a boutique coffee shop which has its own style and gives you a chance to choose your own special coffee glasses which belong to different countries' customs. Then we enjoy hearing about our fortune, told to us from the traces of coffee; which is very popular for the young/old generations (Lunch and coffee are optional). The Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar will be the next and the last, but definitely not the last stop. To reach there, we will be passing from the historical Galata Bridge from Galata to Eminönü (20 min. walking distance or taxi might be used). There is a common brief in the global community of the card game Bridge, that the name of the game was actually inspired by the Galata Bridge. , The spice market itself has approximately 100 shops inside. As soon as you enter, you get the smell of various spices. Besides spices, you can find souvenir shops, jewelry stores, scarves, nuts, Turkish desserts, delights, natural oils, dried fruits, Turkish coffee, tea, etc. which are brought from their origins. Finding different types of fresh, traditional goods in one mystical, authentic and historical bazaar is the reason for the preference for the spice market by the locals and the foreigners. Thus; you will experience the cultural mosaic of İstanbul in just one day. You will visit a synagogue, a church, and different tastes of Turkish culture that take you to a period of different civilizations living in peace over the centuries. As well as you visit the cultural heritage which are hidden unknown places, you will be enjoying the routine of lifestyle such as sipping your Turkish traditional coffee or being a carpenter.
Neve Shalom Synagogue and Museum
Explore the central Sephardic synagogue Neve Shalom and its museum.
Climb the historic Galata Tower and enjoy panoramic views of Istanbul.
Discover the unique history of the Doğan Apartments and their green courtyard.
Visit the neo-gothic Crimea church built in honor of English soldiers.
Workshop (Wood Carving)
Get creative in a wood carving workshop and take home your own creation.
Galip Dede Shopping Street
Explore the popular shopping street filled with souvenir shops and galleries.
Lunch and Coffee Break
Enjoy a traditional Turkish lunch and coffee break.
Experience the vibrant Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar and its aromatic spices.
Please note that passport copies are required 7 days prior to tour day due to the permits to be taken for synagogue visits. You must bring your passport with you on this tour.
The synagogues are closed for visitors every Saturday and Sunday.
Included in the Package
- Professional tour guide experience in various languages
- Transportation from/to your address via a proper, comfortable vehicle.
- Workshop entrance fee
Not Included in the Package
- Food and beverages
- Personal expenses
- Admission fees
- Cancellation for tours can be made 24 hours before for half-day morning and full-day excursions in Istanbul without paying the penalty. Otherwise, you will be charged the full tour price.
- Children between the ages 2 and 10 receive a 50% discount.