Discover the land of sultans and mystical “whirling dervishes” on a journey to the “Cradle of Civilization.” Visit legendary palaces in Istanbul, watch history come alive as you view the Hippodrome and marvel at the ancient sites of Ephesus, Assos and Pergamum. Experience a modern day version of the age-old ritual of the “whirling dervishes,” and learn about the religious diversity of Turkey – from the Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia, to St. Paul’s city of Perge. From the surrealistic landscape of Cappadocia to the unforgettable city of Troy, you too will whirl like a “dervish” from the treasures of Turkey dancing in your mind on your return home.
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
Coastal Turkey has hot steamy summers and moderate winters, while Central Anatolia can have extremes of cold and heat during these times. Mid June through August can be quite hot, and after November, it can get very cold in Cappadocia. Ideal times to travel to Turkey are April/May and September/October, but no matter what time you visit, Turkey is delightful. Istanbul can be visited at any time of the year if you’re prepared for some rain and steamy conditions.
Board your overnight flight and arrive Istanbul the next day where you transfer to your stylish hotel located in Taksim, the pulsating heart of old Istanbul. A welcome cocktail and introduction to Turkey is planned in the evening. MIDTOWN HOTEL ISTANBUL. (Meals Aloft, C/P)
Start your adventure with a cruise on the Bosphorus, the winding strait that separates Europe from Asia. Enjoy the view of wooden villas, marble palaces and ancient fortresses along the shore. Arrive on the European side and visit the legendary Topkapi Palace. Then drive along the coast of the Golden Horn overlooking the walls and churches of the Byzantine period and enjoy a lecture on “Ottoman History” at the historic Galata Tower, built in 1348 by the Genoese. Tonight, enjoy a welcome dinner. Next day, visit the Hippodrome, scene of ancient chariot races and the center of Byzantine life. Marvel at the Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia, once the religious center during the Byzantine era. After lunch visit the Asiatic side of Istanbul, including Beylerbeyi Palace and the Camlica Hill. A lecture presentation on “Women in Turkish History and Culture” will be provided at your hotel, followed by a special dinner planned with Turkish families in their own homes. MIDTOWN HOTEL ISTANBUL. (B,L,D; B,D)
Transfer to the airport and fly to Ankara. Visit the splendid museum of the Anatolian Civilizations, with its unique collection of ancient art and the Mausoleum of Ataturk, “the Father of Modern Turkey.” Then drive to Cappadocia and the Dilek Kaya Hotel with its unique architecture. Enjoy an optional balloon (at additional cost) to see the sunrise over the magnificent terrain, next morning. Afterwards, visit the rock-carved churches in the Goreme and Zelve Valleys, where chapels and monasteries were hollowed into rocks as hiding places. Preserved through the centuries, the original frescoes celebrate the beliefs of the early Christians. The traditional village of Uchisar is surrounded by rock pinnacles and at the underground city of Derinkuyu, thousands of men sheltered themselves from enemy attacks in this land of “Fairy Chimneys”. DILEK KAYA HOTEL. (B,L,D Daily)
Through the spectacular heart of central Anatolia, drive to the holy city of Konya, one of the world’s most ancient cities and Turkey’s most religious site, where you visit the shrine of Mevlana, the mystic who inspired the “Whirling Dervishes.” On to Antalya, the capital of the Mediterranean coast, passing through the Taurus Mountains. Still standing on the cliffs that surround Antalya are the ancient city walls and ramparts built by the Greeks. In town stands the 13th-century Alaeddin Mosque and Hadrian’s Gate, built in honor of the Emperor’s visit in A.D. 130. RAMADA PLAZA ANTALYA. (B,L,D)
Depart for a visit to Perge, where St. Paul preached his first sermon, and Aspendos with its magnificent theater which has remained intact for 1,800 years while war, earthquakes, and time have destroyed the surrounding monuments. The afternoon will be at leisure to enjoy the Mediterranean coastline or to visit the museum of Antalya with its abundance of historical and archaeological treasures, some dating back to the Old Stone Age. RAMADA PLAZA ANTALYA. (B,L)
Depart for Aphrodisias, dedicated to the goddess of love, though it was primarily known as a center for the arts. Continue on to the port city of Kusadasi. Your modern hotel has magnificent views of the sea and is well located close to shops and restaurants. DOUBLETREE BY HILTON. (B,L,D)
Today explore Ephesus, one of the most important and famous cities, the most complete ancient city to be excavated and site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This coastal city was coveted by conquerors throughout the centuries. In A.D. 53, St. Paul attempted to spread Christianity in Ephesus. Visit the Museum, the Basilica of St. John which was built by the emperor Justinian, and the house of the Virgin Mary. Enjoy lunch at the delightful village of Sirince located in the hills near Ephesus, with historic houses facing a peaceful landscape of vineyards and olive groves. DOUBLETREE BY HILTON. (B,L)
Leave Kusadasi behind as you drive along the Aegean Coast to the ancient city of Pergamum, another cultural center of antiquity and one of the seven churches of the Bible. Pergamum was the rival of Ephesus in the field of commerce, and of Alexandria in the fields of arts and learning. Parchment was invented in Pergamum after Egypt cut off the supply of papyrus. Not far from the Acropolis of Pergamum, the Asclepion was known as one of the foremost medical centers of classical times. Dedicated to Asclepios, the god of health and medicine, this first health spa was a place to socialize and recuperate. Continue to Assos and ascend through the cobblestone streets of the village to the Temple of Athena built in the classical period and overlooking the Greek island of Lesbos. Your quaint hotel is in the port of Assos. Overnight at NAZLIHAN HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Depart Assos for legendary Troy, site of the tragedy of Paris and the beautiful Helen. In 1871, wealthy industrialist Heinrich Schliemann used Homer’s Iliad to find the ancient city. Cross the Dardanelles and visit the Anzac Bay and World War I memorials. Fighting on opposite sides at Gallipoli were two future great leaders, Winston Churchill and Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk, the Father of Modern Turkey). During nine months of battles more than 100,000 men were killed and half a million were wounded. Proceed to Istanbul where you enjoy a farewell dinner. MIDTOWN HOTEL ISTANBUL.
Transfer to the airport for your flight back to the US. (B, Meals Aloft)
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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