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Highlights of Western Turkey:

from Istanbul to Athens, East and West meet here at the end of the Silk Road.
Turkey and Greece: Stand at the crossroads of ancient Empires. Surround yourself in thousands of years of history, experience the blended cultures of two continents and enjoy the sunshine! Highlights include Istanbul,Athens, cave homes, Greek Islands, world heritage sites and delicious food!

Day-01 TORONTO - ISTANBUL
Day-02 ARRIVE at ISTANBUL
Welcome to Istanbul, the capital city of 4 empires! We will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. A welcome dinner awaits you. Overnight at hotel.
Day-03 ISTANBUL
Enjoy your breakfast in the world’s most famous city that touches two continents. Today we embark on a city tour that explores the great monuments of celebrated empires and sacred religions. We tour Sultan Ahmet the old downtown of Istanbul. This is where the most important historic attractions are located. In Sultan Ahmet Square we can retrace the course of the ancient chariot races that took place in the Hippodrome. The Byzantine Emperors added an obelisk (shipped from Egypt) and various other monuments to the grandeur of the place. Here stands the 17th century Sultan Ahmed Mosque, still in use for worship today. Even Pope Benedict himself said prayers here. This gem of Byzantine-Islamic architecture is known as the “Blue Mosque” because of its blue-tiled interior. The 8 volumes of work detail are housed in our next site, Topkapi Palace. The Sultans of the Ottoman Empire called Topkapi home for 400 out of the 600 years of their reign. On the Topkapi grounds is the Haigia Irene (Church of Peace), the first church Constantine had built. Topkapi, which once protected sultans, still protects their treasures today as well as many religious and cultural treasures. The treasures of the Silk Road, including Far East porcelain, traveled by camel caravan and ended up here at the palace to remind us of ancient trade routes. The grounds of Topkapi themselves contain natural curiosities as well: check out the hollow trees and the fused trees! Marvel at the famous Hagia Sophia, a museum that pays tribute to the religious past of two great world religions. Justinian built the third version of Hagia Sophia, the one that stands today. For almost a thousand years, this was the biggest church in the world. Hagia Sophia was the epitome of Byzantine architecture and the model for many mosques to come. Designed by a mathematician and a physicist, Hagia Sophia was built with materials from Egypt, Syria, Greece, and even the pagan Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. It provided a place for coronations, a seat for the Patriarch and asylum for those in trouble with the law. Step into history and view the mosaics, calligraphy, icons and frescoes. Tonight after a quick dinner you cross the Bosphorus into the Asian side to the Hayderpasha train station. Overnight at hotel.
Day-04 ISTANBUL
This morning we start the tour with an exciting tram ride to visit to the famous Dolmabahce Palace. After residing in Topkapi Palace for four hundred years, the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire ordered the construction of this exquisite palace, completed in 1857. The palace originally inspired by European architecture marries eastern and western art in a unique style. The palace houses the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier and the world’s largest silk on silk carpets in rooms adorned with gold and silver. Such an extravagant show of wealth is hard to find in a palace of its age. Next we head to Takksim Square. From here we stroll down Istiklal Street. This mile long pedestrian walk will give a great opportunity to see its new-classical and neo-gothic buildings. This bustling street attracts many tourists to its exquisite boutiques, music stores, art galleries, theaters, pubs, restaurants and cafes. The walkway leads us to the famous Galata Tower. If you like to get some panoramic views of the city, pay your entrance at the tower and enjoy some breathtaking views. If you like to try some unique local food, try Istanbul’s famous ‘wet burgers’. It sounds weird, but they taste wonderful. Continue walking to cross the Galata Bridge. Here visit the 16th century Rustem Pacha mosque, built in a similar style of the Blue Mosque. Nearby is the Egyptian Market, also known as the spice bazaar. Let your senses lead you through the spice market and hunt for such local treasures as authentic Turkish delight. After you shop for a taste of Turkey, try out the local fish market for dinner. Overnight at hotel.
Day-05 ISTANBUL
Free day in Istanbul. Enjoy today to relax and catch up with some rest or venture out for personal activities. There are many activities that are unique only to Istanbul. Here are a few that we strongly recommend: • Treat yourself at a traditional Turkish Hammam (bath). Try out a traditional bath that has been in business for over a few centuries. Even a visit can be an experience in itself. • Visit a local performance of Belly Dance with dinner. • Witness the traditional performance of ‘Whirling Dervishes’ • Visit many of the its Churches and Mosques • Dinner cruise along the Basphorous
Day-06 GALLIPOLI BATTLEFIELDS - Troy
Today we take an exciting drive westwards to the peninsula of Gallipoli. Your drive along the Sea of Marmara gives you an excellent opportunity to see the magnificent countryside of Thrace – the European side of Turkey. The understanding of the history of the world wars remains incomplete without Gallipoli: the battlefield where the Turkish forces met with the ANZAC forces (the Australian and the New Zealand Corps). It is a little known fact that Canadian soldiers served and died at Gallipoli as well. We will see the cove where ANZAC forces landed and a few sites on the battlefield. Even if you are not a history buff, the beautiful landscape itself makes Gallipoli a worthwhile visit. Visible from here are the ever-strategic and sought-after Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmora and the beautiful Aegean. Overnight at hotel.
Day-07 TROY-PERGAMON-IZMIR
After breakfast, drive to the site of Troy, the setting of ancient legends and epic battles. Look back in time through the excavated levels of the city of Homer’s heroes and Virgil’s wandering Aeneus. None less than Alexander the Great himself came to this site as a pilgrim to honour the memory of Achilles and Patroclus. Our guide will explain to us how the different cities of Troy built on this site were laid out on top of each other. We head on to visit another great ancient Greek City site, Pergamon. This ancient Greek City was the capital of Pergamon Kingdom during the Hellenistic Period. Pergamon’s most significant contribution to the world was the invention of ‘Parchment’ made mainly from cattle skin. The word Parchment can trace its routes to the name of this great city. During a time when Pergamon was seeing its rise to fame as a city of learning and scholarship second only to that of Alexandria in Egypt, there were likely several reasons (including political) that the supply of papyrus (paper of the time) was disrupted. The necessity for a new source of paper gave rise to the Pargamon paper industry. Continue to Izmir, a modern metropolitan city that has its own history of a major civilization that dates back to 4000 years. Transfer to hotel for overnight. Take some free time to explore the city on your own.
Day-08 IZMIR - PAMUKKALE
After breakfast we head out to visit another highlight of Turkey - Pamukkale. Along the way we make an interesting stop at the site of an ancient city that gave rise to the powerful Lydian Empire. Its history dates back to 8th century B.C. During the 7th Century BC the Persians captured the city and called it Sardis and linked it with the great Persian Empire. As one of the seven churches of Asia it was also addressed by the author of the book of Revelations. The discovery of the archeological remains also unearthed one of the most impressive Jewish Synagogues of the western Diaspora. After we visit the site we drive on to Pamukkale. (*visit to Sardis is time permitting only) Arrive and transfer to your hotel and then head out to visit the site including the Hierapolis. This world heritage Greco-Roman and Byzantine site was built on top of the famous ‘cotton castle’, so called for its white limestone travertines formed by the sedimentary deposits from its hot springs. The travertine has been used as a spa for thousands of years. You can also enjoy a refreshing spa experience at this historic natural wonder. Overnight at hotel.
Day-09 PAMUKKALE - APHRODESIAS - KUSADASI
After a hearty breakfast today we head on to see another world heritage site. This is the site dedicated to Aphrodite the Goddess of Love. The site was built near a marble quarry and hence extensively built in marble. After the visit to the site we head on to our final destination in Turkey – Kusadasi. This Aegean town has been inhabited since 3000 BC and may have once been home to Mary and St. John, but a haven to pirates during the middle ages. Arrive and transfer to your hotel. Take time to explore the local markets. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day-10 EPHESUS - Departure
After an early breakfast we head out to visit one of the most impressive sites in all of the Greco-Roman world. Ephesus carries with it a reputation for many wonders like the site of the Temple of Artemis – one of the seven ancient wonders. It is also known to be one of the prominent cities of the Ionian League. During the early Christian era Ephesus was visited by St. Paul and John. It is believed that John must have written the book of John here in Ephesus. Paul also stayed here and he may have written the letter I Corinthians out of the Paul Tower nearby. Later he also wrote a letter to the Ephesians while he was imprisoned in Rome. The site unearths the history of mankind for over 6000 years. From Neolithic to Bronze Age, from Greek through the Roman Period and through the Byzantium era, Ephesus has seen it all. Our tour will take us to visit the ancient site. The highlights here are remains of the city and the Library of Celsus. This impressive monument once held over 12,000 scrolls. The Basilica of St. John was built during the sixth century by orders from Justinian I. We will walk through the gate of Augustus and stop to see the massive theater that can hold nearly 45 thousand spectators. This is probably the largest outdoor theater of the ancient world. Next we head out head out to see the Church of the Virgin Mary. This site is believed to have been seen in a series of visions by Ann Catherine Emmerich, a German Augustinian Nun during the early 19th century. Based on her visions this little house was discovered near Ephesus which is believed where the Virgin Mary had spent her last days. Time permitting; we may also visit the Ephesus Museum. Entrance fees to be paid by people who would like to go inside. Return to Kusadasi and check out from your hotel. Conclude your tour.

 

  • Excellent Hotels
  • Daily Breafast
  • Transportation from city to city
  • Guided tours and entrance fees

 

  • Istanbul, Blue Mosque, St. Sophia, Top Kapi Palace, 
  • Pamukkale and its lime terraces,
  • Ephesus and its many ruins
  • Troy, the battle fields of Gallipoli, Permagon, Aphrodesias and Izmir.

 

 

Great learning opportunities meet with the locals and visit a variety of places with diverse natural landscapes. 

Walking tours to see the monuments, city exploration by foot and short hikes along nature trails.

Easy

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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