TURKEY TOUR III
Imagine one tour that offers a combination of unusual and intriguing natural wonders; inspiring archaeological and historic sites; beautiful beaches, fascinating museums, and exotic bazaars. This is it! One morning you might be watching the sun rise from the heights of a hot air balloon over Cappadocia - the next day watching the same sun set over the clear waters of the Mediterranean. Where else can you eat breakfast in Europe and lunch in Asia? An unforgettable three week journey!
DAY 1 ~ Depart to Istanbul on an overnight flight.
DAY 2 ~ ANKARA
Arrive Istanbul; transfer flight to Ankara. We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel for overnight.
DAY 3 ~ ANKARA
Ankara , the ancient Ankuwash or the Angora , has been the capital of the Turkish Republic since 1923. In the morning we will visit the Museum of Ancient Anatolian Civilizations , the best museum in Turkey for pre-classic exhibits. In the afternoon we will travel to Gordion, the city of legendary King Midas; capital of the Phrygian Empire, and where Alexander the Great cut the "Gordion Knot".
DAY 4 ~ CAPPADOCIA
Today we will travel south to the fascinating region of Cappadocia , stopping en route at the Hittite capital of Hattusas , which dates from 3,000 BC. Highlights include the Great Temple , Lion's Gate, and the Citadel. At the famous Shrine of Yazilikaya you will see reliefs of 63 gods and goddesses carved on the rock walls. Then we will continue on to Cappadocia , whose unique landscape was created eons ago by volcanic eruptions.
DAY 5 ~ CAPPADOCIA
The special composition of the rock in this fascinating area allowed the carving of underground cities where thousands of people lived. We will visit one of these underground cities and the Byzantine cave churches here, as well as Pasabagi with its unique "fairy chimneys". According to legend, these odd-shaped rocks housed fairies that were capable of casting spells. We will climb the Uchisar Fortress for a panoramic view of the beautiful Goreme Valley; visit Urgup , known for its Selcuk and Ottoman historical works, its kilims, handicrafts, and local wines; and tour Avanos , which is famous for its pottery.
DAY 6 ~ KONYA
En route to Konya we will visit the Selcuk's Kervansary (camel palace) where caravans stopped to rest along the trading route; we will also visit the world's first city, Catal Huyuk, which is presently under excavation. While in Konya, the city where Mevlana founded the Mevlevi Order of Whirling Dervishes, our tour will include a visit to the Museum of Mevlana; the Karatay Medresesi , with its beautiful display of Selcuk tiles; and the wood and stone Selcuk carvings of Ince Minare Medresesi.
DAY 7 ~ PAMUKKALE
Today we will travel to Antioch in Pisidia to explore the ruins here. This was an ancient city with a diversity of religious backgrounds, chosen by Emperor Augustus to be the second capital in Anatolia . St. Paul also chose it as his center for proclaiming Christianity to the Anatolia , and we will visit the Church of St. Paul and the Temple of Augustus . We will stop for lunch at lovely Lake Egirdir before continuing on to Pamukkale (ancient Hierapolis ) to spend the night.
DAY 8 ~ ANTALYA
This morning we will explore Pamukkale before heading to Antalya via Aphrodisias . The cliffs of Pamukkale are covered by brilliant white calcium deposits with pools of clear warm water fed by thermal springs, creating a unique and beautiful natural wonder. This site was a famous health spa in Roman times and is still in use today. You can soak in the pools and view the beautiful marble columns, toppled by earthquakes, that lie at the bottom; then explore the ruins of ancient Hierapolis with its theater, Temple of Apollo , colonnaded street, bath and its extensive necropolis. One of the most scenic drives we will take is the route through the beautiful Toros Mountains to the harbor city of Antalya on the Mediterranean , one of the few cities which enjoys an appealing mixture of ancient and modern worlds. En route to Antalya we will visit Aphrodisias , the city of Aphrodite , the goddess of love and beauty. This interesting site has very impressive ruins and beautiful marble statuary.
DAY 9 ~ ANTALYA
In the morning we will visit the ancient sites of Perge and Aspendos, the latter of which has one of the best preserved Roman theatres in the world. In the afternoon we will tour the Antalya Archaeology Museum, one of the finest museums in Turkey , containing exhibits ranging from the Stone Age to a 6 th Century relief of the Angel Gabriel. There will still be time to explore Antalya 's old city quarter where many fine examples of Ottoman architecture are being carefully restored, and walk along the ancient harbor.
DAY 10 ~ KAS
A visit to the Lycian rock-cut tombs in Myra and a trip to the nearby Church of St. Nicholas, where the legend of our beloved Santa Claus began, are on the agenda today. Then in the afternoon we will take a boat to see the ancient city of Simene and the mysterious sunken city in Kekova Bay . You will see interesting sarcophagi and steps covered by water that once led into homes and ancient buildings.
Day 11 ~ DATCA
Continuing along the Mediterranean coast today we will visit Xanthos , once the capital and grandest city of Lycia, which is beautifully situated overlooking the Xanthos River, before stopping in Dalyan to view the ruins of the Carian city of Caunos and the Lycian Temple tombs carved dramatically out of the cliff above the Dalyan River. Dalyan is also famous as the breeding ground of the Caretta caretta, a rare kind of turtle, that lays its eggs and hatches its young on the beaches there, which are closed from June to September to accommodate the species. Then we will drive onto a peninsula which extends west into the Mediterranean Sea to the picturesque town of Datca to spend the night.
Day 12 ~ BODRUM
Today we will explore the city of Cnidus with its two magnificent harbors-one in the Aegean and the other in the Mediterranean. There are also two impressive theaters, and a statue of Aphrodite built by Praxiteles which is believed to be the first free-standing monument of a woman. This Aphrodite of Cnidus became the standard against which all subsequent representations of feminine beauty were measured. We will travel to the harbor city of Bodrum to spend the night.
Day 13 ~ BODRUM
Strolling along the bustling ancient harbor, there will be many interesting shops to browse as we make our way to the Museum of Underwater Archaeology which is housed in the impressive Castle of St. Peter . The Museum contains many fascinating artifacts and restored shipwrecks retrieved from the dangerous waters along the peninsula. Then we will visit the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus , one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Day 14 ~ KUSADASI
Traveling further along the coast today, we will stop to explore Euromos , which has a very picturesque Temple of Zeus , followed by three famous ancient cities that were once a part of the Ionian League: Didyma , the religious center; Miletus, the business and cultural center; and Priene, the political center. We will continue on to Kusadasi, a favorite location which has a splendid boat harbor and fortress, for the night.
Day 15 ~ KUSADASI
This morning we will explore the fascinating Hellenistic and Roman city of Ephesus with its beautiful theater, Celsus Library, and many appealing ruins of the once great city. In the nearby charming town of Selcuk, we will tour the Museum of Ephesus where we will see two famous statues of Artemis, taken from the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Day 16 ~ AYVALIK
We will travel north along the Aegean coast today, stopping to visit Sardis with its impressive synagogue, gymnasium-bath complex, and Temple of Artemis. Sardis is known as the residence of Croesus of "rich as Croesus" fame, and also the place where gold and silver coins first appeared. We will continue on to Pergamum , which has an interesting ancient medical center and acropolis and is especially famous for its library, once one of the most extenisve in the world. Pergamum is also famous for the origination of parchment, from which we derive our modern writing paper. We will spend the night in the seaside town of Ayvalik.
Day 17 ~ CANAKKALE
Today we will continue our drive along the northern Aegean coast, stopping at Assos , a very important city during the 4th Century BC; it was a well-known center for the study of philosophy and natural sciences. Aristotle, who later became a tutor of Alexander the Great, taught there. The city was protected by a magnificent wall, one of the most impressive fortifications in Anatolia. The view from the Temple of Athena is particularly beautiful. Then we will visit Troy , the site of Homer's classic epic "the Iliad" and where nine different layers of civilization have been uncovered and partially excavated.
Day 18 ~ ISTANBUL
We will cross the famous Dardanelles by ferry to Gallipoli, where we will visit some of the memorials to those who died in World War I during the famous Battle of Gallipoli. Then we will travel through Thrace (the European section of Turkey) along the Sea of Marmara to the fascinating crossroads city of Istanbul to spend the night.
Day 19 ~ ISTANBUL
This morning we will walk to the Hippodrome , an arena used for political, cultural, and sports activities during Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman times. We will visit the Blue Mosque , famous for its Iznik blue tiles; and St. Sophia , the largest Christian church in the world for over 1,000 years. Nearby is the Basilica Cistern , or Underground Palace, with its ancient columns surrounded by water. Finally we will visit the legendary Topkapi Palace , home to the Ottoman sultans for over 400 years.
Day 20 ~ ISTANBUL
This morning our motor coach follows the ancient city wall s of Istanbul to the Chora Museum , which has the most beautiful mosaics in Turkey. Afterward we will have a Bosphorus ferry cruise between continents, seeing the fabulous palaces and villas that hug the shoreline, followed by a tour of the old and new city , including the Galata anad Pera regions.
Day 21 ~ ISTANBUL
Depart for back to home.