1st Day – Arrival to Istanbul
One of our colleagues will be waiting for you at the arrival hall bearing a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted by a courteous member of our staff who will load your luggage into our midi-van and take you directly to your hotel. Stay in Istanbul.
2nd Day – Full Day Old City Guided Walking Tour
You will be picked up from your hotel at about 08:30 am in the morning. You will visit Topkapi Palace, Baislica Cistern (Underground Water Palace) and the Hippodrome in the morning. You will have free time for the lunch and in the afternoon you will visit Hagia Sophia Museum, Blue Mosque, Million stone, Tomb of Sultan Mahmud and ancient Ottoman cemetery, Burnt Column, Grand Bazaar. The tour ends about 16:30 with free time in Grand Bazaar. You will be advised by your guide for getting back to your hotel on your own. Please note that St.Sophia Museum is closed on Mondays and Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays. (Replaced with Archaeology Musuem) Covered Bazaar is also closed on Sunday. Stay in Istanbul. Breakfast and lunch included.
3rd Day – Golden Horn & Bosphorus Cruise
Pick up time is about 08:30 from your hotel. You will visit : Suleymaniye Mosque, City Walls, Chora Church and Pierre Loti Hill. After lunch you will see Rustem Pasha Mosque, Sprice Bazaar and Bosphorus Cruise by boat. Stay in Istanbul. Breakfast and lunch included.
4th Day – Flight and First Day in Cappadocia
You will be picked up from your hotel and then you will have a flight to Kayseri at 07:00 and then you will be transferred to tour location. Devrent imagination valley (a lunar landscape), Zelve open air museum (houses carved in rock, Seljukian mosque & remains nearly from all the ancient civilizations), Pasabaglari (Fairy chimneys), Lunch, Avanos (pottery demonstration with the Hittite tecnique) Pigeon valley, Uchisar rock-castle, Esentepe (panoramic view of Goreme valley) and Goreme Open Air Museum (rock cut churches, frescoes, monastery). Stay in Cappadocia. Breakfast and lunch included.
5th Day – Second Day in Cappadocia
After breakfast tour to Mustafapasa (old Greek village Sinassos) Cemil Church, Keslik monastery, Taskinpasa medresesi (an Ottoman theological school), Sobessos the ancient city of Byzantium (Roman bath, mosaics and more), Soganli valley (3 km walking in the traditional village, churches), Lunch and Kaymakli underground city. Stay in Cappadocia. Breakfast and lunch included.
6th Day – Visiting Gaziantep
Departure from your hotel at 08:30. Drive to Karatay Kervansaray on the legendary Silk Road. Stop at Kahramanmaras for lunch and a taste of its famous ice cream. Continue onto visit the world famous Gaziantep Mosaic Museum. This museums becomes after the discoveries from Zeugma. We will also visit the old city castle, copper bazaar and the famous baklava shop (Baklava is originally from Gaziantep). Stay in Gaziantep. Breakfast and lunch included.
7th Day – First Day in Sanliurfa
Today we drive to Sanli Urfa. On the way we stop at Nizip (soap and olive oil district) to see the remains of the old city of Belkis or (Zeugma) by the River Euphrates. Importance of this settlement which demonstrates an uninterrupted inhabiting since prehistoric ages, is that it is one of the two points allowing the easiest passage across the River Euphrates with a bridge first built by Alexander the Great. Lunch in Urfa and after a walk through the local covered bazaar. Spend the afternoon at leisure or walking through the town to discover the many hidden treasures. Stay in Sanliurfa. Breakfast and lunch included.
8th Day – Second Day in Sanliurfa
Urfa, the birthplace of the prophet Abraham. Urfa has been occupied since the Babylonians followed by the Hurrites, Hittites, Assyrians, Greeks. We will visit nearby Harran and see the incredible beehive houses. Harran according to the Bible was the site where prophet Abraham spent a few years with his family before moving on to Israel, the promised land. We will also visit the holy sites at the Ainzelha, a lake with millions of domesticated fish. While in Urfa we will visit the cave where the prophet Abraham was born and visit a bustling sheep market as well. There are exceptional photo opportunities in this area. In the afternoon drive to Kahta on the way see the Ataturk Dam, third largest in the world. Stay in Kahta. Breakfast and lunch included.
9th Day – Visiting Mt. Nemrut
In the morning 03:30 am departure. Hike to the summit of Mt. Nemrut (one of the most popular UNESCO world cultural heritage sites), watching the sunrise, be amazed by the colossal heads and statues of ancient deities as you step into mythology. This extraordinary landmark rests at an elevation of 8000 ft. The mountain top complex is composed of two flattened areas strewn with statues and separated by a false peak of crushed rock. Antiochos built the entire complex approximately 2000 years ago as a monument to his divine ancestry. Also definitely take time to visit the old castle Arsemeia, cross over the still functioning Cendere Bridge (Septimius Severus bridge) dating all the way back to the 3rd century and Tumulus Tomb of Karakus. Then drive back to the hotel for breakfast. We then depart to Mardin with a lovely ferry ride across the dam and lunch in Siverek. We will reach Mardin around 16:00 check into hotel. We will take the time to visit, walk in its busy streets and bazaars, and admire the stonework all around the town. Stay in Mardin. Breakfast and lunch included.
10th Day – Visiting Mardin
In the morning visit Mardin. Mardin is very unique with lovely old-Arabic style houses. The houses are often decorated with intricate carvings. This is a very lively trading center with people coming from surrounding villages to buy and sell. We will have a fantastic view of the Plain of Mesopotamia. It is a city that played an important role in the early development of Christianity. We will also visit the Monastery of Deyr-az-Zaferan just outside of town, founded in 762 A.D. It was the seat of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch for almost 800 years.We drive to Hasankeyf, with stop at the beautiful little town of Midyat to see the Monastery and ancient houses on the way. Hasankeyf, with its history that spans nine civilizations, the archaeological and religious The history of Hasankeyf goes back 10,000 years. This is three times longer than the Giza pyraids, 10 times longer than Stonehenge, and makes the glorious civilizations of the Maya and Inca seem as if they were flourishing just yesterday. Some of the city's historical treasures will be inundated if construction of the Ilisu Dam is completed. These include ornate mosques, Islamic tombs and cave churches. After lunch by the Tigris River we depart to Tatvan, a small village on the edge of Lake Van and watch the sun set over the lake. Stay in Tatvan. Breakfast and lunch included.
11th Day – Visiting Van
Depart from Tatvan and a beautiful drive around the lake to reach Van city, established 13th century BC. From here, we will take a ferry across the lake to visit the finest Armenian architectural wonder of the Church of Holy Cross on Akdamar Island. Step over to the huge Van Castle from the days of Urartu and see the hieroglyphs as you sense the spirit of the once Urartu capital Tushpa, feel the salty waters of the great Lake Van called as 'the Sea' by the locals. Stay in Van. Breakfast and lunch included.
12th Day – Visiting Dogubeyazit
Drive on the "Silk Road" to Dogubeyazit. At the Iranian border we will see a site known as the Crater Hole. This is a beautiful, yet rugged area. We will have the opportunity to see Mt. Ararat from all sides. It is believed by some to be the resting-place of Noah's Ark; but to date no one has found anything that has been verified as the Ark - yet the search is still on. We will stop and see the Ishak Pasa Palace. This complex is a combination of a mosque, a fortress, and a palace which originally had a room for every day of the year! Below you can also see the remains of Eski Beyazit, and Urartian City which flourished in 1000 BC. Continue onto Kars. Stay in Kars. Breakfast and lunch included.
13th Day – Visiting Kars and City of Ani
Departure for a 45-minute drive to the medieval Armenian City of Ani, which lies mostly in ruins. Impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravansaries. Enjoy a walk around the ruins and see the beautiful view to the Armenian border imagining it as a city with 200.000 people rivaling Bagdad in its time! This city has experienced the cultures of Urartians, Armenians, Georgians, Mongols, Russians and finally the Turks. Also visit the impressive Kars Castle. Stay in Kars. Breakfast and lunch included.
14th Day – Visiting Erzurum
Leave Kars after Breakfast and drive southwest to Erzurum. Of great interest will be the villages of stone houses and black sheep on green meadows. Visit the 12th century Medrese (a Seljukian School), 12th century mosque and enjoy the ethnographic museum. Visit an old caravan stop where the local black stone is mounted in silver and gold by the local artists in the most aesthetic art form. Stay in Erzurum. Breakfast and lunch included.
15th Day – First Day in Trabzon
We begin a beautiful 5 hour drive to Trabzon, winding along the rivers with many photo stops and Karaca Cave along the way. Visit the Sumela Monastery, also known as the Monastery of Virgin Mary. It has been said that it is neither on earth nor in heaven. Carved on the slope of a mountain, it looks like a nine storey high building hanging down from the clouds and sitting on the top of the forest. A short hike through the rain forest will leave no question in your mind about where you are in Turkey. The Black Sea Region ! Stay in Trabzon. Breakfast and lunch included.
16th Day – Second Day in Trabzon and Flight to Istanbul
Visit the city of Trabzon in the morning. After the crusaders invaded Constantinople in 1204, Trabzon became the capital of the Byzantine Empire for a short time. Longing for the grandeur of Constantinople, in Trabzon, they imitated the churches of their beloved city in a smaller scale. St. Sophia of Trabzon though much smaller will leave with you the same sense of religious devotion as the original one in Istanbul. Fly back to Istanbul. Breakfast and lunch included.
The tour ends at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. Further arrangements provided upon request.