Turkey: A look into an Ancient World
Strategically situated between Europe and Asia, Istanbul’s appeal lies in its dual soul. Visit ancient ruins set between rocky cliffs and the bright blue Aegean Sea in Ephesus and Bodrum.
Upon arrival in Istanbul, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel, which is stunningly located on the waterfront in the old part of the city. Based on your arrival time, check in, and your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby, ready to introduce you to one of the world’s most exotic and exciting cities.
Lunch locally this afternoon, later crossing the Bosphorus to the Asian shore where you will walk through leafy waterfront neighborhoods. End the day at Beylerbeyi Palace, a magnificent 19th century imperial palace with opulent interiors.
We will provide you with dining suggestions that range from hip and trendy restaurants and bars to simple fish spots frequented by the locals.
Start the day with your guide in the old city at Topkapi Palace, the home to the Sultans and harems for 400 years and a fine example of Ottoman architecture. Wander the pavilions, courtyards and gardens and see treasures from the Sultans’ collections that include dazzling jewelry, the crown jewel being the 86-carat Spoonmaker Diamond.
Continue your exploration of the old city this afternoon with visits to the most famous monuments in Istanbul. The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Underground Cistern, and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts will steep you in a cultural world of graceful architecture, elaborate decoration, and deep faith.
Dine at one of our suggested restaurants this evening.
Your guide will meet you this morning in the hotel lobby to take you to the Grand Bazaar, a city in miniature with its own mosques, courtyards and fountains. This legendary covered market consists of a labyrinth of passages framed by vendors selling everything from clothes to gold to food. There are over 3,000 shops here, providing one of the most fascinating spectacles in the whole city. Visit the spice market and stop at the tiny Rustem Pasa mosque nearby, gloriously clad in Iznik tulip tiles.
Leave the old city for the famous pedestrian way, Istiklal Street, and its shops, cafes and historical memories. Visit Pera Museum, another private museum with a wonderful collection of Orientalist paintings of Istanbul.
End the day with your guide on a cruise along the Bosphorus aboard a private yacht.
This morning you will be met at your hotel and privately transferred to the airport for the morning flight to Cappadocia.
Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport by your guide. Spend the day exploring the valleys, canyons and hills of Cappadocia, an ancient Persian name meaning “land of the beautiful horses.” Located on the main route of the old Silk Road, this lava-covered plain has been eroded over thousands of years into a fabulous landscape of outcrops, caves and grottos. Visit the bizarre Fairy Chimneys, the historical towns of Urgup and Mustafapasa, and the gorgeous landscape of Pigeon Valley.
Check in to Argos, your stylish cave hotel, in the late afternoon.
This evening we will suggest dining options where you can sample dishes from the local cuisine such as “manti,” the Turkish ravioli specialty of the Kayseri area, and a local wine.
Early this morning, take a balloon ride over the stunning landscape below.
Return to the hotel for breakfast, after which you’ll set off with your guide on a scenic hike through the hidden valley of Kizilcukur and onward to Cavusin. The landscape is a patchwork composed of gorgeous colors of ochre rock, contrasting with the green ribbons of apricot orchards.
For a hearty lunch, perhaps you might wish to sample another specialty of this region, Mercimek Corbasi, the famous Turkish red lentil soup.
In the afternoon, you will visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, a Unesco World Heritage Site, world-famous for its Byzantine churches cut into the rock face. These early Christian churches contain a dazzling array of vivid frescoes, depicting scenes from the Bible, from the life of Christ, and from the mythological and creative imagination of the painters.
Meet your guide this morning and head off to visit the town of Avanos located on the banks of the Kizilirmak River. Known for its colorful ceramic tiles and red-clay pottery, in which much of the local cuisine is cooked, Avanos has been at the center of Anatolian craftwork for centuries. A short distance from Avanos is your next stop, the underground city of Ozkonak. Built to protect the local population from raids, Ozkonak is an ancient version of a modern bomb shelter.
Later this afternoon you will attend a performance of the Mevlevis, the whirling Dervishes, who belong to one of the Sufi mystical sects of Islam. This deeply spiritual performance takes place in a 13th century caravanserai built on the old Silk Route and used, long ago, by the passing camel caravans.
Depart this morning for Ankara, making the transfer 3 hours by private car with your guide. The stunning, ancient city of Ankara traces its history from the Bronze Age Hatti people, through Celtic and Roman history, to its contemporary role as Turkey’s capital, a thriving hub of arts and politics. You will have a chance to visit Ataturk’s Mausoleum, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Ankara Castle before your late afternoon flight to Izmir.
Upon arrival in Izmir you will be transferred to Kusadasi, on the Aegean coast in time for a quiet dinner by the sea.
Following breakfast this morning, meet your guide in the lobby of your hotel, setting out on a full day tour of Ephesus. The ancient city of Ephesus, once home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, traces the history of its inhabitants back to the Bronze Ages. The ruins of the city comprise an important site for Classical Greek, Roman and early Christian history.
Begin your visit with the Ephesus Museum, home to a wealth of archaeological finds, including two celebrated statues of the Ephesian Artemis. Continue on to the 6th-century Basilica of St. John, erected above the Christian saint’s tomb. Religious scholars believe that Apostle John spent the later years of his life in exile in Ephesus, completing his Gospels as well as other revered writings here.
Visit the Christian and Muslim shrine, the House of the Virgin Mary, considered by some to be the home where the Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent the final years of her life. The site, on Mt. Koressos, includes a chapel restored in the 20th century, beside the ruins of a 6th century structure and a much older foundation, purportedly dating to the 1st century AD.
Return to Kusadasi this afternoon in time to relax before dinner on your own. We recommend dining on your hotel’s terrace, with a panoramic view of the turquoise waters below.
This morning, depart Kusadasi with your guide, making your way to Bodrum via several striking ancient sites.
You will drive first to the ancient city of Priene, among the best preserved ancient Greek cities in Turkey. Set on a flat plane between the steep cliffs of Mount Mykale and the broad Meander River flood plain, the city, once known as Ionia, has provided a valuable source of information for the study of ancient civilizations.
Continue on to Miletos, once among the wealthiest and grandest of Greek cities. Miletos was an important port, lasting through several empires, to Byzantium, when the Meander River ceased to reach the now-dry harbor. Among the highlights here is the ancient theater, once the center of ancient philosophy.
On your final stop en route to Bodrum, visit magnificent remains of the Apollo Temple in Didyma. This was a cult center of the oracles for hundreds of years, second only to the mythical site of Delphi in the Hellenic world.
Arrive in Bodrum at the end of the day, where you will check into your luxury boutique hotel. We recommend dining at your hotel this evening, where creative Mediterranean cuisine is served on the terrace overlooking the Bodrum peninsula.
Meet your guide in the lobby of your hotel this morning to explore Bodrum, the ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus. The city was once home to another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum of Maussollus.
Visit the 15th-century Crusader’s Castle, home to the Museum of Underwater Archeology. The vast collection here, the largest of its kind, is largely made up of underwater discoveries of ancient shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea. With ancient glassware, coins and pottery dating back to the Bronze Ages, the museum is a treasure trove of historical findings.
Spend the afternoon at leisure or join an optional private yacht cruise to the beautiful coves of Bodrum, a great opportunity to swim in the deep blue waters.
Return to your hotel, and then dine down in the port at any one of the simple and delicious outdoor fish restaurants.
This morning, transfer by private car to Bodrum airport for your flight back to Istanbul, where you will connect with your international departure.
This is just the beginning.
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