ISTANBULIstanbul may be counted in the most unforgettable and remarkable cities in the world. Spreading onto two continents, Europe and Asia, Istanbul constitutes a natural bridge between two cultures, East and West, which has enriched it with many distinct and unique structures.
A living cosmopolitan city, Istanbul always has something to offer everyone with its history, structures, natural beauty, people and lifestyle.
DAY 1 – Hippodrome - Blue Mosque - Topkapi Palace - Underground Cistern
A full day tour at the old city which has been the throne of power of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires; practically the city that ruled the world for nearly 15 centuries. start tour with Sultanahmet Square, which was the Hippodrome of Byzantine Empire. Some of the important monuments of the Hippodrome are; Egyptian Obelisk dating back to 16th century B.C., Serpentine Column from 5th century B.C., and the Stone Obelisk erected in 10th century A.D. Walk to visit Blue Mosque famous for its six minarets and beautiful Iznik tiles as interior decoration, built in the classical period of Ottomans one of the best examples of classical Turkish art. Visit the Topkapi Palace built in the 15.century by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, the imperial residence of Ottoman sultans housing the souvenirs of 600 years and exhibiting imperial treasury, Chinese porcelains, weapons, calligraphy section, etc. Lunch in old Pudding Shop near Sultanahmet. Lastly we visit underground cistern which is a hihlight for many visitors in Istanbul.
DAY 2 – Chora Church- Grand Covered Bazaar- Spice Bazaar- Bosphorus Cruise
Our second day in the marvellous city starts with Chora Church. The well preserved fresceos here are the bezt examples of Byzantine Renaissance. Next is Grand Bazaar, the most attractive shopping center in the world with more than 4000 shops. Head on to Spice Bazaar with its domed and vaulted shops selling spices and herbs, also known as Egyptian Bazaar. Then to the pier for a Bosporus cruise on a public ferry. Starting the trip from the Golden Horn and sailing through the waterway separating the two continents, Asia and Europe- with a possibility to take pictures of the marble palaces, old wooden villas of Ottoman architecture besides modern residential.
Day 3 – Dolmabahce Palace –Istiklal Street - Saint Sophia
We head on to Dolmabahce Palace which is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world. We walk from palace up to famous Istıklal Street which is an elegant pedestrian street, approximately three kilometers long, which houses exquisite boutiques, music stores, bookstores, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, libraries, cafés, pubs, historical patisseries, chocolateries and restaurants.In the afternoon we visit St Sophia, one of the greatest marvels of architecture constructed as a basilica in 536 by Emperor Justinian. The Church was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in the 15th century and than into a museum after the Republic.
CAPPADOCIADAY 1 - Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museum-Mausoleum of Ataturk, Haci Bektas Museum- Cappadocia
Our first stop Anatolian Civilization Museum, is one of the best museums in turkey, has won many awards. It has a wide collection of artifacts from all periods of Anatolian history and prehistory. Next is the great mausoleum of Ataturk, founder of modern Turkish Republic. It will give you full idea about the process of independence battle and Ataturk's life. Then we leave Ankara. We have a 3-4 hours drive to Cappadocia. On the way we stop to visit Haci Bektas Museum. Haci Bektas is known one of the founder of heterodox sect of Islam. We drive half an hour to get to our hotel after exploring this interesting museum.
DAY 2 - Soganli Valley, Ayvali, Kaymakli Underground City, Uchisar
Drive to Soganli valley to get beautiful corner of Cappadocia; Soganli valley which is not a much visited site; will give an idea to you about the typical Turkish village life. Christian monasteries located on the skirts of hills are unique for their wall paintings amongst all Cappadocia churches. We head on to the village Ayvali. Lunch is in a restored old house. We head on to Kaymakli Underground City in afternoon, one of the wonders of Cappadocia. Settlement was dug as deep as of 5 layers below ground level and used for hiding for centuries Tour finishes with the spectacular view of Uchisar.
Day 3 – Cavusin, Göreme Open-Air Museum, Pasabag, Devrent Valley, Avanos,
Optional Hot-air Balloon in the morning.
In the morning we have a short drive to Cavusin to walk around in the old part of the city to understand the volcanic formation and volcanic erosion of Cappadocia. We also see the church in the village which is famous with the unique wall painting of Salome's dance. We have optional short hike from Cavusin to Pasabag which is one of the most beautiful corners of the region with hermitages hollowed out volcanic tufa. Next is Devrent Valley to get lost between the fairy chimneys. We have lunch in Avanos where we also visit a pottery producing centre. We head on to Goreme in afternoon to visit the Open-Air museum of Goreme which was a very important monastic settlement in the early Christian ages has number of churches hollowed out rocks and painted with wall paintings.
DAY 4 – Ihlara Valley – Sultanhani Caravanserai- Mevlana Museum (Konya)
We head on to Ihlara valley for a walk before lunch at the bottom of the valley and explore some cave churches painted in local style. After lunch by the river, we continue to Sultanhani Caravanserai. It was an overnight stop for merchants and camels on the Silk Road via Anatolia. Konya; capital of Anatolian Seljuk's once upon a time is now famous with Mevlana Museum (Whirling Dervishes). Mevlana (Rumi) who was a great theologist and the founder of Sufism lived in 13. Century, well-known with tolerant doctrine.
EPHESUSEPHESUS AND SURROUNDINGS
Part of west coast in Turkey was called Ionia in antiquity. It is the birth place of modern science and some important philosophers. Different civilizations lived and passed in the region. Some of them left great cities like Didyma, Aphrodisias, Ephesus and more. It was the trading centre between east and west worlds and a branch of Silk Road which started in China finished here.
Impressive remains in the sites have been excavated by different Archaeologist teams all over the world. Ephesus which was the capitol of Asia Minor has been excavated by Australian Archaeologists more than 110 years and Hierapolis by Italians. All sites were located near important trading routes or were a big port city. Area is also known with its natural character. Mountains spill in horizontal direction, fertile plains scatter between them with rivers in east-west direction.
We have different tours in the area including all important sites in your flexibility. We use small characteristic pensions or boutique hotels. Our base near Ephesus is Sirince village, the most beautiful village of Aegean area. Greek and Turkish speaking people lived together in Sirince before the population exchange in 1924.
Day 1: Ephesus – Temple of Artemis – Ephesus Museum – St John Basilica – Isa Bey Mosque
City was the capitol of Romans in Asia Minor. It had everything that was necessary for education, politics, religion, entertainment and sports. Ephesus is the one of the best preserved classical cities of the ancient world, and probably the best place in the world to get a feeling for what life was like in Roman times. There are some remarkable buildings like Celsus Library which is rebuilt in 7 years, Terrace Houses will give you full idea about the wealthy roman houses and the theater which St Paul preached or the main street where Cleopatra and Marc us Antonius are welcomed. Next is the remnants of Artemis temple which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. After lunch in the town we visit the local Ephesus Museum to see the remains found during the excavations in Ephesus. We visit some St John Basilica where St John was buried and than a great basilica built on top of it by Byzantines. Lastly is the Isa Bey Mosque built by one of the first Turkish states called Aydinogullari. It has a mystic atmosphere with its interesting construction details.
Day 2: Aphrodisias – Pamukkale (Hierapolis)
Aphrodisias which is known as one of the most beautiful ancient cities of Turkey, Aphrodisias is in the must see list. There was a big sculpture school in the city and you can feel this when you are walking in the site. One of the most remarkable remain, Tetrapylon which was the monumental entrance to Aphrodite temple is now rebuilt. We drive to Pamukkale and explore a natural phenomenon and a visit place of people for more than 2000 years. The main attraction, cotton white travertine spread onto a hill covering 2700m, which makes it unique in the world. The ancient Hierapolis city is situated on top of it and is worth paying a visit with its splendid Roman Theatre, Colonnaded Street and Bath.
Day 3: Priene – Miletus - Didyma
Priene which is very characteristic site with its Hellenistic ruins and gives idea about how the cities looked like in Hellenistic Period. Its early theater and especially Athena Temple are remarkable remains. Miletus which used to be a very important port city and founded about 70 colony city just in black sea. Some important philosophers of antiquity was also born here. Miletus also houses very well preserved Roman theater and Roman bath. Next stop is Didyma. We have lunch in a restaurant close to the site. Didyma Apollon Temple a masterpiece built by many generations dedicated to God of Light- Apollon. The temple which was one of the main oracle places in ancient times still keeps its splendor with its amazing size and beauty.
ANTALYAKaleici, the traditional old quarter of this bustling Mediterranean city, is our base for exploring the remarkable ancient sites in the surrounding countryside. Even Alexander the Great failed to capture mountain-top Termessos, St Paul set out from Perge, and Bellerophon killed the fire-breathing monster of Chimera at Olympos. At night, you can wander round the winding backstreets of the old town, eating in a variety of traditional local restaurants.
Day 1: Perge- Aspendos- Archeology Museum-Old City
Tour starts with the Roman site Perge. Perge was an important commercial city on the ancient trading route between nearby Side and Ephesus, on the distant Aegean coast. It has some fascinating remains. These include a colonnaded street, Roman bathhouse, agora (market place), the gate-towers of the city walls, fountains, and an athletics stadium. We head on to Aspendos to see the best preserved theater in the Roman world. The city, situated on the Koprucay (ancient Eurymedon), was quite wealthy in the ancient times. The aqueduct, bringing water from the Toros Mountains, is particularly impressive. We eat lunch in Serik in a local restaurant . We drive back to Antalya and visit the city's archeology museum, widely regarded as the best provincial museum in Turkey. The statues on display, found at nearby Perge, are very impressive examples of Roman sculpture.
Day 2: Termessos- Old City
Termessos was a Pisidian city built at a height of 1050 meters in the Taurus mountains. The site of Termessos, set in a beautiful national park, has never been excavated. This gives it a romantic grandeur, with temples, a gymnasium, sarcophagi and other remains peeping out of the rich undergrowth. The double's' in Termessos provides linguistic evidence that the city was founded by an ancient Anatolian people. After lunch we return to Antalya and we have a very nice walk in the narrow streets of Old City known as "Kaleici".
Day 3: Phaselis-Olympos-Chimera
Phaselis, an hour drive south of Antalya, is one of the most special sites on Turkey's southern coast. Founded by colonists from the island of Rhodes, it is set on a forested peninsula. As the remains are scattered amongst Mediterranean pines, it's never too hot to explore - and anyway it's always possible to take a dip in the warm waters of the military harbor. Phaselis' main street is lined with the remains of Roman era shops, and the theatre gives spectacular views of 2,365m Mt Olympos, which dominates the town. When you walk around the city you will see why Alexander the Great spent a whole winter here. We have trout lunch near a mountain stream, before dropping down to the sea again. Ancient Olympos was a pirate centre in the 1st century BC, and possesses a long, clean and sandy beach. After a swim, we walk to the Chimera - a mythical place where eternal flames have kept burning for thousands of years. It is a wonderful natural phenomenon, and the flames have been considered sacred all through history. Anatolian mythology has it that Bellerophontes killed and buried a fire breathing monster known as the 'Chimera' under the hill and the flames are the foul breath of the monster.
Day 4: Sagalassos-Burdur Museum
We have a beautiful to countryside drive (1.5 hrs) to Sagalassos located on top of Taurus Mountains about 5000 feet. This wonderful site had been covered by nature till the Belgium Archeologist started to uncover and restore it in 1989. Its amazing location with its remains gives magnificient views. After spending the morning here we drive to Burdur city center to have lunch with local dishes. We visit a very nice boutique museum recently built in the city. It has some interesting artifacts from different ancient cities. Especially sculpture salon is very remarkable. We drive back to Antalya after this amazing day.
NORTH AEGEANDAY 1: Pergamon – Assos
Our first stop is Pergamon located on top of a hill with magnificent views of modern town and plain. One of the best ruin of the site is the Temple of Trajan standing on an artificial terrace and the ancient theatre. We have a 3 hour drive to Assos with an enroute stop at Olive Oil museum in Adatepe.
DAY 2: Assos – Troia – Çanakkale
After a nice breakfast by the sea, we drive up to Assos to explore the ruins. Leaving the nice views of Athena temple and the Aegean views behind, we transfer to Troia with an hour drive. The legendary site was first discovered by Schliemann in 19th century which brought a big interest to "Archaeology" in Europe. We are staying in Çanakkale.
DAY 3: Gallipoli
The 20 min. ferry ride takes us to European side (Eceabat) with a short drive to 1st World War site of Gallipoli. The Allied landing and subsequent campaign on the peninsula during World War I is usually known as the Gallipoli Campaign. It is now the resting place of thousands of soldiers in a tranquilizing atmosphere and nature.
SOUTH EASTDay 1: Gaziantep Mosaic Museum, Old city Tour
Take early flight from Istanbul to Gaziantep. Zeugma Mosaic Museum will definitely be a feast for the eyes with its world famous mosaics. Containing 1700 m2 mosaics, This is the largest mosaic museum in the world. Gaziantep has done well in restoring old Han's now used for varying reasons. One of the most interesting things in Antep are the markets where you can see people working on copper, leather and wood with the old techniques. Dinner and overnight in Gaziantep.
Day 2: Bald Ibis park, Boat tour over Euphrates, Rumkale, Halfeti, Urfa Museum, City tour in Urfa
1,5 half drive with an en route visit to bald ibis preservation area we will get to Halfeti situated on the east bank of river Euhprates. Some part of the village was flooded after the construction of Birecik Dam, which now gives us the opportunity to take a boat tour on the river. The boat will get us to Rumkale, once a powerful fortress by the river. It is possible to hike to some of the ruins mostly from Byzantine period. The top of the castle gives incredible views of Euphrates. After a lunch in Halfeti we will drive for another hour and a half to Urfa Museum. The Museum now houses some of the important artifacts from Göbekli Tepe. Another important object displayed in the museum is Urfa Man statue as it is the oldest (9000 BC) real size statue of a human being. A derivation of the early names Ar Ruha or Urhoy which means 'spirit', Urfa will definitely capture you from the first you step you take on the old streets. So we will spend the afternoon wandering around the old streets, markets, Hans of Urfa. The last stop of the day will be Abraham's pool, which is believed to be the place where Abraham was thrown into fire. This religious site is busy even in evening times as this is also the greenest part of the city with cafeterias set around the pool.
Day 3: Harran, Gobeklitepe
The day will begin with a visit to Harran where Abraham is believed to have started his journey. The site is mostly visited for its beehive shaped houses now used for welcoming tourist. Göbeklitepe is the oldest human made religious structure in the world dating to 10.000 BC. On a promontory hilltop, there are 20 round shaped structures designed with T shaped pillars as big as 6 meters. The pillars contain some of the most intellectual reliefs of its time with depictions of ducks, lions, vultures, scorpions, snakes and humans. Only four of these round shaped structures have been uncovered since its discovery in 1994. The people who built this sanctuary would probably come from other Neolithic sites, as there has not been any settlement area discovered in the site. The site has the attention of the whole archeology lovers from all around the world and will continue to do so in the future with new discoveries. Dinner in Urfa, overnight in same hotel.
Day 4: Karakus Tumulus, Cendere Bridge, Arsemia, Mt Nemrut
Head towards Kahta, Adıyaman (2.5 hrs drive). The day commences with Karakuş Tumulus which was built by Commagene king Mithradates for his mother. The tumulus is called Karakuş (black bird) because of an eagle statute still standing on top of a column. Four columns surrounded the tomb, only 2 of which stand today. Cendere bridge was built by Septimius Severus in the 2nd century AD so as to have his legioners pass Cendere River. There used to be two columns on each side of the bridge where statues of Septimius, his wife his two sons used to stand. When Carracalla got the throne after his father, he removed his brother's statue removed. Until recent years the bridge was still in use. A short drive will get us to Arsemia which was built as the summer capital of the Commagene kingdom. The city was named after the king Arsames. The site is situated on two hills devided by a river. Relief of Mithridathes shaking hands with Heracles and the longest greek inscription of Anatolia can be seen in this ancient city of Commagene. The last stop of the day is Mt. Nemrut that is the resting place of Antiochus I. A 20 minute walk will take us to 2100 meter where Antiochus I had his tumulus built. What is so interesting about the site is the 9 meter statues of Greek and Persian gods placed on the east and west terraces of the tumulus.
Day 5: Mardin, Deyrulzaffaran Monastery, Dara (optional)
A 3 hour drive will take us to Mardin set up on the slopes of a hill overlooking the Mesopotamian plain. Syrian Christians and Muslims live together on this beautiful city. A unique cuisine, old houses that never hinder each other's view, earliest examples of Churches, donkeys collecting rubbish, shops that still make hand-made products, splendid carvings on Madrasahs, Mosques and Churches, Mardin is like an open air museum. Deyrulzaffaran Monastery was founded in 493 AD and had been the seat of patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 1160 to 1932. This is one of the oldest monasteries that is still active. Beside the church structures, the sun temple from 2000 BC will be a major attraction.
Optional: Dara: The current village is built upon an ancient city. It is possible to see recycled materials on houses. The cistern, towers, tombs and underground structure are going to be a surprise for you.
Day 6: Hasankeyf, Midyat, Mor Gabriel Monastery, Anıtlı (Hah)
A 2,5 half drive will get us to Hasankeyf along the banks of Tigris. The ancient city that was under the control of Romans, Byzantines and Arabs was captured by Artukids and chosen as the capital. The city became an important place as a result of its strategic place. The site is now threatened with the construction of a dam which will flood the whole site.After a lunch in by the river we will drive towards Midyat to see Mor Gabriel Monastery which is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world and the most vital in Turkey. Besides its impressive features dating back to 5th and 6th centuries such as domes, cloisters, belfry, terraces, doors, motives and decorations, the monastery is one of the most important religious centers of the Syriac Orthodox Church. On the way back to Mardin we will pay a visit to a Syriac Christian village of Anıtlı (Hah). Although small in size, this 6th century church is truly a masterpiece with its unique roof decoration.
Day 7: Transfer
Transfer to Mardin Airport