Day 1 :
Departure from your airport
Day 2 :
Arrive in Istanbul
Istanbul, known as Constantinople until the early 20th century, is a city much immortalized in art and literature.
- Istiklal Street:
Enjoy walking and shopping on Istiklal Street, formerly the Grande Rue De Pera. It has stylish shops, several large Embassies and Churches, many impressive residential buildings and a scattering of tea shops, cafes and restaurants.
- Dinner in local restaurant:
Enjoy an evening meal with your group.
Day 3 :
- Blue Mosque:
Visit the impressive Blue Mosque also known as the Sultanahmet/Suleymaniye Mosque; this is the masterpiece of Sinan, the Chief Architect of the Ottoman Empire, and is considered to be one of the best amongst the Imperial Mosques.
- Sunken Palace:
Explore the Sunken Palace, a huge 6th century Byzantine cistern that was originally used to supply water to important parts of Constantinople. Its use continued even into the 15th century AD when the Ottoman Empire made use of the water collectors.
- Hagia Sofia:
Hagia Sofia, originally a Christian basilica erected in 360 AD, is a thousand years older than St. Peter's in Rome. First a church, then a mosque and now a museum, it is considered to be the supreme masterpiece of Byzantine architecture.
Visit the city's former stadium, which today features a Brazen Column, the Serpentine Column and an Egyptian Obelisk.
- Topkapi Palace:
Discover Topkapi Palace - a luxurious preserve that was the imperial seat of the Ottoman Empire. The Palace complex is surrounded by three miles of walls and is the oldest and
largest Palace in the world. We will walk through the back streets of Old Istanbul and visit the elegant little Sokullu Pasa mosque and the hidden underground Theodosian Cistern (or a visit to Suleymaniye Mosque may be made).
- Turkish Dinner:
This evening we will enjoy a Turkish Dinner, followed by a spectacular Oriental Show with belly dancers and folk singers.
Day 4 :
Istanbul - Ankara - Cappadocia
- Grand Bazaar:
Visit the Grand Bazaar - one of the oldest covered market places in the world. The Bazaar's labyrinth of tunnels contains over 4,000 shops where all kinds of carpets, trinkets, jewelry and clothes can be purchased.
- Internal flight to Ankara:
Ankara was once a Hitite town, then a Roman city, and now is the capital of modern Turkey.
- Museum of Anatolian Civilizations:
Visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, one of the most important museums in the world, to explore its collections of artifacts for an in-depth introduction to Hattian, Hitite and Phyrigian and Assyrian Civilizations. We will also see the excellent collection of relics dating from the Paleolethic, Neolithic, Calcholitic and Bronze Age eras excavated in some of the oldest towns of Anatolia.
- Continue to Cappadocia:
Cappadocia has been referenced by Persian Kings as far back as the sixth century BC. It is known for its incredible geographical features such as the famous fairy chimneys and expansive, undulating rock formations.
Day 5 :
- Goreme and the Open Air Museum:
While in Cappadocia we will visit the ancient monastic site of Goreme and the Open Air Museum, the best known and most visited site of all the monastic settlements in the Cappadocia region. This steep-sided little valley once housed a thriving monastic community, living and worshipping in houses and churches cut into the surrounding cliffs. It is also the largest of the religious complexes, and its churches contain some of the most fascinating of all the frescoes in Cappadocia. The frescoes in these churches, which date from the 5th to the 12th centuries, are true masterpieces of Byzantine art.
- Uchisar Castle:
Our day continues with a visit to Uchisar Castle, the highest peak in the region and the most prominent land formation. We will climb 120 steps to the summit of the fortress, where we will enjoy spectacular views of the rocky landscapes of Cappadocia.
- Kaymakli Underground City:
Our afternoon concludes with a visit to the Kaymakli Underground City, a wonderful example of a functional subterranean complex. The complex, believed to descend 65 feet into the earth, was home to approximately 15,000 people at a time, with air shafts, water wells and storage spaces capable of supporting the population for several months. We will enjoy a tour of the four levels that have been cleared out since 1964, including kitchens, stables, a winery and a chapel with a confessional.
Day 6 :
Konya - Pamukkale
- Continue to Pamukkale:
En route, we will stop and visit
Konya. Konya is the oldest city in Turkey, the capital of the Seljuk Empire and home to the world renowned sect of the Whirling Dervishes.
- Melvana's Mausoleum:
Explore and discover Melvana's Mausoleum, home of the Whirling Dervishes.
- Tomb of Celaleddin Rumi:
The highlight of our trip to the Mevlana Mausoleum is the Tomb of Celaleddin Rumi, founder
of the sect and later awarded the title of Mevlana. The room is highly ornamented with Islamic script and enameled bas-relief, and contains the tombs of several of the more important figures of the dervish order.
Day 7 :
Pamukkale has been hailed for millenia as a center of healing due to the carbon-rich hot springs that have resulted in the formation of white travertine in the area. The travertine deposits make Pamukkale a beautifully unique place to relax and experience history.
- Sacred Pool:
Swim in the effervescent waters of the Sacred Pool, which is the main source for the springs feeding the travertines. The pool lies in the center of a lush garden and cay evi (teahouse). Scattered about at the bottom of the crystal-clear pool is an amazing collection of striated columns and capitals, a striking reminder of the pool's pedigree.
Visit the impressive remains of the ancient city-spa of Hierapolis, where emperors and kings weekended around 2,000 years ago. The city of Hierapolis was founded in 190 B.C. by Eumenes II as part of the great Empire of Pergamum and was probably named after Hiera, the wife of the legendary founder of Pergamum. Considered a sacred site for the magic of its healing waters, Hierapolis reached its peak of development under the Romans at the end of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. During the Byzantine Era, a large church was erected to St. Philip, who was martyred here in A.D. 80.
- Tour Hierapolis:
Our tour will include the stunning remains of the best preserved Ancient Theater in Turkey, the Temple of Apollo, the Plutonium, the Martyrium of St. Philip, the Byzantine Gate; the Colonnaded Street; the monumental Arch of Domitian, and the Necropolis, stretching for over 1 mile and ending at the northern entrance to the site.
Day 8 :
Pamukkale - Kusadasi
- Travel to Kusadasi:
En route, we will stop and visit Aphrodisias.
Visit the ancient remains at Aphrodisias, the best-preserved example of a Hellenistic civilization in Turkey. It is commonly believed that the cult of the mother goddess was central
to the origins of Aphrodisias and as early as the 1st century BC it was recognized as a sacred sanctuary, and was awarded special privileges that began with Julius Caesar and lasted through the end of the Roman Empire. Aphrodisias is still undergoing excavations, compliments of New York University, and the site covers an area of 1,284 acres. Highlights of our tour will include the Temple of Aphrodite, built around the 1st century BC; the immense Stadium of Aphrodisias, an elongated oval, which rivals in grandeur the stadium of Pompeii; the truly Olympic-size Pool; the Theater; the Portico of Tiberius; and the Baths of Hadrian.
Day 9 :
Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world. Long considered by the ancients as the ideal city, all wanted to see Ephesus at least once in his/her lifetime. It was founded at the end of the old Silk Road, where the merchants from east and west used to meet and has always been coveted by different conquerors because of its location.
- Tour of Ephesus:
We will visit many sites in Ephesus, beginning with the Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Our tour includes the Forum, the Odeon, the Fountain of Trajan, the Temple of Hadrian, the Thermal Baths of Scolastika and the Great Theatre, built in the Greek era and reconstructed in the Roman period. Our tour will conclude along the Arcadian Way, where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession.
- Church of the Virgin Mary:
Our afternoon visit will include a trip to the Church of the Virgin Mary, originally used as a Roman mercantile center but later converted to a basilica in the 4th century. The church played an important role in the evolution of Christianity in two ways: as the first to take Mary's name and secondly as the site of two important ecumenical councils in 431 and 449, in which the natures of Christ and Mary were hotly disputed.
- Mt. Koressos:
Visit the humble Chapel which lies on the site of the little house where the Virgin Mary is believed to have spent her final days. Despite many controversies, the Christian World still favors this belief and the Vatican has officially sanctioned the site for pilgrimage.
Day 10 :
Kusadasi - Canakkale
- Continue to Canakkale:
En route, we will visit Izmir and Pergamon.
Izmir (the ancient and medieval city of Smyrna) is the third most populous city of Turkey and the country's largest port after Istanbul.
- Archaeology Museum:
While in Izmir, we will visit the Archaeology Museum, highlighted by the Treasury, which houses gold jewelry dating from the 6th to 3rd centuries BC and offers ample proof of ancient artistic talent. The museum also features Roman and Byzantine silver and gold coins as well as artifacts from the Bayrakli Mound.
Visit the ancient remains of Pergamon, perched on a hilltop of the modern city of Bergama. Enjoy a guided tour of the remains, highlighted by the City Walls; the Temple of Trajan, built in white marble; the Library Ruins, which once housed 200,000 parchment scrolls; the Altar of Zeus, whose altar was rebuilt in Berlin; the Upper Agora; and the Theater, constructed in the 3rd century BC.
Canakkale is one of the only cities aside from Istanbul that has land in both Europe and Asia. Evidence of human activity in the area dates as far back as 6000 BC. It is also the largest city near the ancient site of Troy.
Day 11 :
Canakkale - Istanbul
- Continue to Instanbul:
En route we will stop and visit Troy.
This morning we will visit Troy, the pivot of Homer's Iliad and the site of the decade-long Trojan War. We will take a tour of the site known as Hisarlick, where we will view a defensive wall, two sanctuaries from the 8th century, houses from various periods, a Roman Theater and the Pillar House, thought to be the palace of King Priam.
- Trojan Horse:
We will also view the Trojan Horse, which is a reconstruction of the device used by the Greeks to deceive and ultimately vanquish the Trojans.
- Boat Trip on the Istanbul Strait:
Enjoy a boat trip on the Bosphorus, or Istanbul Strait.
- Dinner in local restaurant:
Enjoy an evening meal with your group.
Day 12 :
Departure from Turkey