On Site: On Location in Istanbul With Crystal Cruises

Travel Agent is on location this week aboard Crystal Cruises' newly refurbished Crystal Serenity as part of the 22nd Annual Crystal Cruises Sales Achievement Awards Gala. The gala kicked off last night in Istanbul and will continue to sail to Monte Carlo.

As part of the gala activities, the honored agents were invited to attend the Splendors of Istanbul shore excursion. This four-hour land tour takes travelers to the main sites of Istanbul, such as the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome and Hagia Sophia. Normally Hagia Sofia is closed on Mondays, but Crystal Cruises was able to secure a private excursion for its cruisers today, to make sure that we did not miss this iconic part of Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque, known to locals as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, faces Hagia Sophia. It is the most unique mosque in Istanbul due to its six minarets. The mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet. Its colloquial name, Blue Mosque, was given to it due to its interior decoration, which is done almost entirely in blue tiles.

Hagia Sophia is one of the most ancient churches in Istanbul, built in the 6th century by Justinian. The dome rises almost 200 feet above the ground. The church was later converted into a mosque and now serves solely as a museum.

The gala kicks off tonight with dinner and a cocktail reception, before we sail to Mykonos.

Stay tuned for more updates from Travel Agent Central.

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