TW6 Western Turkey

NEW SEARCH
TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Timeless Istanbul, guided tours Guided tour of site of Troy Guided visits to Ephesus & Museum Crusader Castle of St Peter, Bodrum A day sailing on a traditional Gulet Antalya, Roman site of Perge

Full Itinerary


Day 1 Arrive in Istanbul
Today we arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our hotel.

"If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Constantinople," marveled Alphonse de Lamartine, the 19th century French writer and politician. New Rome, Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul; the legendary city has served as the capital of the legendary Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Though no longer a capital, Istanbul is the largest city and the cosmopolitan heart of Turkey, full of marvels and startling contrasts.

Overnight in Istanbul.
Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Istanbul: Hippodrome & Agia Sophia
We start our day with a panoramic drive around the Golden Horn and the great walls of Constantinople. The first recorded bridge over the Golden Horn was built during the reign of Justinian the Great in the 6th century at the western end of the city, and today we will pass the famous Galata Bridge and the Ataturk Bridge. As we drive along the Byzantine city gates and walls we will view the towering minarets of Suleyman's Mosque and the Galata Tower before arriving in Sultanahmet Square.

We'll begin the walking component of today's tour at the legendary Blue Mosque, built between 1609 and 1616 by Mehmet Aga. The inside is covered by more than 20,000 Iznik tiles. At the adjacent Hippodrome you will see the remains of the great sports stadium where chariot races were held in Roman and Byzantine times. We will also see an Egyptian obelisk, a giant needle of stone carved for the Pharaoh Tutmoses III around 1500 BC and brought to Constantinople by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius in AD 390.

We continue to the church of Agia Sophia (St Sophia), built by the Emperor Justinian in 548 BC. It was the largest church in the Christian world for nearly 1,000 years. When the Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1435 one of the first things they did was to convert St Sophia into a mosque. Today it is a museum featuring many beautiful Christian mosaics.

Outside Agia Sophia we descend underground to the gigantic Basilica Cisterns. These are the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. Like most sites in Istanbul, the cistern has a colourful history. Constructed using columns, capitals and plinths from ruined buildings, the cistern's symmetry and sheer grandeur of conception are quite extraordinary. This immense underground water container was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I in 532 to meet the water needs of the Great Palace. This marvelous piece of engineering only confirms yet again that those were the heydays of the Byzantine Empire.

At the end of our touring today your Tour Leader will lead you on a leisurely exploration of Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar before setting you free for independent exploration.

Overnight in Istanbul.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Istanbul - Gallipoli - Troy - Canakkale
After breakfast we drive along the Sea of Marmara through the small European part of Turkey known as Thrace. Only 3% of Turkey is in Europe, the other 97% known as Anatolia, is in Asia. One of the fascinations of Turkey is the huge number of peoples and empires that have occupied this land.

Before leaving Europe we visit Gallipoli, Gelibolu in Turkish. This narrow, mountainous peninsula on the northwestern side of the Dardanelles has seen more than its share of history with countless civilizations having battled for control over these straits for over 3,000 years. This is the historic World War I battleground where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, father of the Turkish Republic, first rose to prominence. Under the direction of Winston Churchill, an unsuccessful naval and land campaign failed in its attempt to capture Gallipoli, open up the Dardanelles, and seize Constantinople. This battleground is now marked with over 30 memorials.

We then cross the Dardanelles waterway by ferry from Europe to Asia where we visit the ruins of Troy where Greek and Trojan heroes fought for the beautiful Helen. Troy had been accepted as a lengendary city for ages, but very few people believed in its true existence. Heinrich Schliemann excavated here at this own expense in the 1870s and discovered the spot where a sophisticated settlement had existed for centuries. As you stand on the ancient hilltop you can look out over the plain of Troy and feel the famous cool north wind blowing from the Dardanelles.

Overnight in Canakkale.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Canakkale - Pergamon - Kusadasi
We have an early start today, travelling down the rugged Aegean coast and inland to the typically Turkish rural town of Bergama. Here we visit the Akropolis and Asklepion of the Roman city of Pergamon, said to be one of the first hospitals in the world. We see a carving of two snakes wrapped around a drinking cup (a modern symbol of the medical profession), and a theatre where the mentally disturbed would allegedly act out their emotions (a forerunner of today's psychoanalysis?).

Later we travel through Izmir, Turkey's most important port. Here the blind poet Homer was born when the city was known as Smyrna. Also here in 1922 the Turks expelled the invading Greeks from Turkish soil during the Turkish War of Independence.

We continue to Kusadasi, a beautiful port city with a small island fortress. The island, attached to the mainland, gives the city its name: Kusadasi, "The Island of Birds."

Overnight in Kusadasi.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Kusadasi: Ephesus Site Tour
Today we visit Ephesus, one of the highlights of any visit to Turkey. During its Golden Age, the city was adorned with splendid monuments, theatres, agoras and libraries. The protectress of the city was the goddess Artemis whose temple, dating back to 1300 BC, was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. As a prosperous trade and banking centre, Ephesus had a cosmopolitan population. It has been recorded that St John brought the Virgin Mary to Ephesus
where she spent her last days after the death of Christ. On our tour of Ephesus we see a 24,000 seat amphitheatre, the Library of Celsus, and the marble-paved Arcadian Way. We also include the special Terrace Houses section, which provides fascinating insight into family life during the Roman period.

In addition to the main site of Ephesus we will visit the superb Ephesus Museum. We also visit the traditional town of Selcuk with its many beautiful buildings, including the Isa Bey Mosque (built in 1307), remains of old Turkish baths, and a hill crowned by the Ayasoluk Fortress.

Overnight in Kusadasi.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Kusadasi - Didyma - Bodrum: Crusader Castle of St Peter
Today we travel southward along the Aegean coast on winding roads through fields and olive groves to Bodrum. En route we stop at Didyma, an ancient Ionian shrine and the most renowned oracle of the Hellenic world, containing a temple and an oracle of Apollo. The Temple of Apollo at Didyma was the fourth largest temple in the ancient Greek world.

Bodrum is the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Mausoleum. This was also the birthplace of the Greek historian Herodotus. Today Bodrum's whitewashed sugar-cube houses, draped in bougainvillea and scattered on the hillside overlook the perfect natural harbour. The reputation of Bodrum's boatyards dates back to ancient times, and today, craftsmen still build the traditional yachts: the Tirhandil with a pointed bow and stern, and the Gullets with a broad beam and rounded stern. The latter, especially, are used on excursions and pleasure trips,

This afternoon we visit the Crusader Castle of St Peter, which dominates Bodrum Bay. The castle was built by the Knights Hospitaller in the early 15th century. Today the castle houses an excellent museum, mainly dedicated to the artifacts retrieved from the many ancient shipwrecks discovered off the Turkish coast. Many of the pieces in the museum have been excavated from below the sea bed by teams of archaeologists from Texas A&M University.

Overnight in Bodrum.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Bodrum: Day at Leisure
Today is free for you to enjoy the ambience of this beautiful seaside town. Some may want to explore the Bodrum Mausoleum, also known as Mausoleum of Halicarnassus -- one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Mausoleum dates back to 350 B.C. and is dedicated to Carian satrap Mausolus. This monument tomb was 50 meters high, and rose over the region. Though there is not much left to see, the site is worth a visit with its beautiful ruins, gardens and landscape.

Situated on a hillside overlooking Bodrum is the Bodrum Amphitheatre, another structure accredited to the reign of King Mausolus. The theatre is another witness to the great past of Bodrum, and it is one of the best-preserved structures of ancient Halikarnassus. Originally, it was built around 4th C BC during the reign of King Mausolos, in 2nd C AD, during the Roman period, it was enlarged and enriched.

Overnight in Bodrum.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Bodrum - Kas
Leaving Bodrum we head over the coastal fringes of the Taurus Mountains to the warm Mediterranean coast, called the 'Turquoise Coast' because of the exquisite blueness of the sea. The picturesque fishing village of Kas has a quaint harbour, carved tombs in the mountain behind, an ancient Lycian amphitheatre, a Lycian tomb, and the Greek island of Kastellorizo just off shore.

Overnight in Kas.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Kas - Gulet Cruise - Kas
Today we cruise the Mediterranean on a wooden yacht, relaxing, sun bathing and stopping to swim at leisure. Our itinerary is open-ended today in order to account for local weather conditions, though our likely itinerary will include Tersane, Kekova submerged ruins, and the fortress at Simena. At some of these sites, foundations of houses and rock hewn staircases with outlines of buildings can be seen almost at the water's surface. There are several excellent places to moor for swimming and sightseeing.

Overnight in Kas.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Kas - Antalya
Today we travel along the Lycian Coast visiting the rock tombs of Myra and the Church of St Nicholas -- the original Father Christmas -- on the way to Antalya. Before reaching Antalya we stop at Phaselis, one of the mst spectacular Roman cities on the coast, located on a narrow peninsula between pine forests and three natural harbours.

Overnight in Antalya.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Antalya - Perge - Aspendos - Antalya
We visit the vast Roman site of Perge where St Paul is said to have preached his first sermon. Here are the ruins of a huge theatre with impressive marble relief work, fountains, a colonnaded steam bath and basilica. Nearby is the well preserved amphitheatre at Aspendos, which the Romans designed so brilliantly that natural acoustics allow someone sitting in the furthest seats to hear a person speaking in a normal voice down in the orchestra area. We will also see the aqueduct that brought water from the mountains to the city.

We return to Antalya and visit the excellent museum containing early Christian icons and Roman tombs with some of the best examples of Roman sculpture of Asia Minor.

Overnight in Antalya.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Antalya - Istanbul
This morning we take the 75 minute flight from Antalya to Istanbul and transfer to our hotel.*

This afternoon you may explore Istanbul, a city crowded with beautiful mosques, churches and palaces. The Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar beckon for last-minute shopping. For a relaxing break, you may want to take an optional ferry ride up the Bosphorous to the Black Sea. Along the shores of the Bosphorous are many Summer Palaces and old wooden houses dating from Ottoman times.

* Your Tour Leader may not accompany you to Istanbul as s/he will be continuing to Capadoccia on a longer tour option. Your arrival and time in Istanbul will be managed by a local agent.

Overnight in Istanbul.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Departure
Departure from Istanbul.

IYI YOLCULUKLAR!
Meal plan: breakfast


TW6 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION13 days

TOUR STARTIstanbul

TOUR ENDIstanbul