Explore Istanbul, the city that is claimed by two continents, the seat of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantines, and the Ottomans. Explore the natural wonders of Cappadocia. Stay at a local style cave hotel for an immersive experience and become part of the history and culture of this mysterious landscape. Visit the remains of the once famous city of Troy. Discover Ephesus, one of the best-preserved Greco-roman cities of the ancient world. Each day of this trip is packed with excitement as you experience fascinating wonders every single day.
|Istanbul, Blue Mosque, St. Sophia, Top Kapi Palace. Cappadocia, its Cave houses and underground cities. Troy, Pamukkale and it’s lime terraces, Ephesus and its many ruins|
|Istanbul, Cappadocia, Troy, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Kussadasi.|
|Great learning opportunities meet with the locals and visit a variety of places with diverse natural landscapes.|
Variety of Transport:
|Bus, van, local taxis, boats.|
|Walking tours to see the monuments, city exploration by foot and short hikes along nature trails.|
Unique Local Experiences:
|Stay at the cave hotel in Cappadocia, try out a variety of local cuisine, local markets and great bargain shopping.|
|Day 01||Arrive Istanbul||Hotel|
|Day 02||Istanbul – Cappadocia||L||Cave Hotel|
|Day 03||Cappadocia||B+L||Cave Hotel|
|Day 04||Cappadocia||B||Cave Hotel|
|Day 06||Istanbul – Gallipoli – Canakale||B+D||Hotel|
|Day 07||Troy – Pergamon – Kussadasi||B+D||Hotel|
|Day 08||Kussadasi (excursion Ephesus)||B+D||Hotel|
|Day 09||Kussadasi – Pamukkale||B+D||Hotel|
|Day 10||Pamukkale – Bursa – Istanbul||B||Hotel|
|Day 12||Istanbul – Departure||B|
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Day 2: ISTANBUL
Day 3: 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 Taksim 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 to 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 the hotel.
Day 4: 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 its Churches and Mosques • Dinner cruise along the Bosphorus.
Day 5: 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 the hotel.
Day 6: 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 the 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 Pergamon 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 7: 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 the hotel.
Day 8: 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 the 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 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.
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