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Highligts: Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Pergamon, Thyatira, Izmir, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Kusadası.
Day 1- Istambul
Arrival in Istanbul and meeting at the airport, transfer to the hotel, check- in. Leisure afternoon.
Day 2 – Sultanahmet – Old Istanbul
Visit The St. (Haghia) Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian. It was the largest building in the world for over 1000 years. See its intricate mosaics and huge central dome. Continue to the Topkapi palace, which was used by the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to 19th centuries. We will also see the impressive collection of priceless jewels, crystal, silver and porcelain, robes worn by the sultans and relics of the prophet Mohammed.(Entrance to the Harem is extra). After lunch we will see the Blue Mosque, built for Sultan Ahmet I, which is a unique piece of architecture with its six minarets and features 20,000 beautiful Iznik tiles. Visit the ancient Hippodrome with Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II. Walk through the back streets of Old Istanbul and visit the Yerebatan underground Cistern. See the Grand Covered Bazaar (except Sundays). Overnight Istanbul.
Day 3 – Bosphorus Cruise with Beylerbeyi
Visit the exotic Egyptian Spice Market on the Golden Horn. Board your cruise of the Bosphorus, the waterway, which separates the continents of Europe and Asia. Pass Rumeli fortress, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 to prepare for his conquest of Istanbul. We will visit the museum of Sadberk Hanim, which has an excellent private collection of artifacts dating back to the prehistoric period and an ethnographic section housed in an old Ottoman building. After lunch in a seaside fish restaurant, cross over the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia and visit Beylerbeyi Palace, which was the summer residence of the Ottoman Sultans, then on to Camlica Hill, for a magnificent view of Istanbul. Cruise is done by public boat unless other arrangements are made. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 4 – Istanbul- Cappadocia
Take the early morning flight from Ataturk Airport in Istanbul to Cappadocia. Arrival at the airport and meeting just outside the arrival’s gate with a sign bearing your name with your driver. Transfer to Cappadocia. Tour to Kaymaklı Underground City, one of the most interesting underground settlements in Cappadocia. Soğanlı Valley, an Open Air Museum in a wild natural setting near a typical Cappadocian village with its different style Rock-Cut churches and frescoes. Villages in the valleys, surrounded by the “table top” mountains, are spectacular. Lunch and Visit to Sahinefendi newly discovered (01 May 2002) mosaic houses & Archaeological excavation site. Continue with Keslik Monastery near Cemil, that hides its frescoes behind a very thin smoke layer which we can only see by torch light. Our tour finishes with a visit to Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), an old Greek town with its spectacular old Greek houses; very fine examples of late Greek settlements and architecture. Overnight Cappadocia
Day 5 – Cappadocia
In the morning, first meeting with the lunar landscape of Cappadocia: rock formations beyond belief in Devrent valley; a journey in the past with its troglodyte houses, visit to Pasabag “fairy chimneys” where the voice of wind mixes with the “songs of fairies” near Zelve. Lunch in Avanos, centre of terra cotta work of art since 3000 BC. and a demonstration in a traditional pottery workshop. Afternoon, visit the famous Goreme Open Air Museum and see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings (10th to 13th century). Continue to Uchisar Rock-Castle to have a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia. Overnight Cappadocia
Day 6 – Cappadocia – Ephesus- Pergamon– Thyatira– Izmir
Take the early morning flight from Kayseri to Izmir (direct or via Istanbul).
Arrival and meeting at the airport with your name sign. Transfer to Pergamum, actually called Bergama. It is one of the sites of the Seven Churches of Asia. Here we explore the impressive Acropolis, the steepest theatre in the world, the Asklepieion, famous medical centre of classical times, see the Altar of Zeus which is mentioned as the «Throne of Satan» in the book of Revelation, the marble columns of the Temple of Trajan and the Library which was foremost in the world and was long a rival of the equally famous Library of Alexandria in Egypt. Its wealth of volumes was estimated at over 200,000. It inspired the invention of parchment. We also visit the Red Basilica (St. John’s Church). Then we continue our visit to Thyatira, now called Akhisar, another one of the Seven Churches of Asia . It was a city famous for purple dyes. We visit the remains of a basilica and some architectural fragments from the Roman period. Lydia, the seller of purple in Philippi, was from Thyatira. Before we check in at the hotel in Izmir, we enjoy a panoramic ride of Smyrna, the third largest city in Turkey and one of the sites of the Seven Churches of Asia. Smyrnas is a city scarred with a bloody history of trade and warfare. We ascend to Mount Pagus where we visit the Citadel of Lysimachos, commander of Alexander the Great, erected in the 4th century BC. We will also see the Clock Tower. Check in at the hotel for dinner and Overnight in Izmir.
Day 7 – Izmir – Sardis – Philadelphia– Laodicea – Hierapolis
Today we depart early in the morning to one of the most picturesque areas of any of the Seven Churches of Asia, Sardis, presently Sart. This was the capital of the ancient Lydian kingdom of the 6th century BC, portrayed as a dying church. We visit the great Temple of Artemis and the Temple of Cybele, which became a Byzantine Church. We will also visit some ancient Lydian houses, and the restored gymnasium and reconstructed Synagogue. We also see the last several meters of the royal Persian Road from Susa to Sardis built by Cyrus the Great and the «golden» river Pactolos. Lunch en route.
Then we continue our journey to Philadelphia, nowadays called Alasehir, another church of the Seven Churches of Asia, and the only church not censured. There we see the remains of a Byzantine basilica built of brick, with a bit of high arch and some 11th century frescoes. We drive to the healing city of Hierapolis, actually Pamukkale, the white «cotton fortress» where hot mineral water bursts from the earth and cascades over steep cliffs forming pools, channels and stalactites. The therapeutic waters were known to the founders of Hierapolis and of Laodicea in 190 BC. In Hierapolis we visit the Martyrium of the Apostle Philip where he was martyred during the persecutions ordered by Domitian. Proceed to Laodicea (present name Denizli) yet another of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. We see the ancient theatre, the remains of basilica and ancient stone water pipes.
We visit the Gate of Domitian, the Arcadian Way, the 2nd century AD Theatre, the Nymphaion, the Temple of Apollo, the Plutonium and the Necropolis. Check in at hotel for dinner and overnight in Hotel in Pamukkale.
Day 8 – Ephesus-Kusadasi
Drive to Ephesus visit to the ancient city of Ephesus including the Basilica of St. John and the Ephesus archaeological museum. The Apostle Paul preached to the Ephesians and lived here for three years. This church also received an epistle from him. We tour the spectacular ruins where excavations still continue in this once great and important city, which was founded in the 10th century BC.Walk through history along marble streets lined with wonderful public buildings, among them the Baths of Scholastica, the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the Theatre. The Temple of Diana of the Ephesians, another of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was built in this city. We visit the Basilica of St. John and the Ephesus archaeological museum. Visit The House of Virgin Mary before drive to Kusadasi Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 9 – Kusadasi – Istanbul
Transfer to Izmir airport for flight to Istanbul Ataturk airport. Arrival and transfer to Hotel. Free afternoon for a last chance to complete your visits. Overnight Istanbul.
Transfer to Airport to connect to your international flight and leave Turkey
– Hotel Accommodation
– Licensed Professional Tour Guide
– Entrance Fees according to above itinerary
– Daily Breakfast
– Arrival and deperture airport transfers (On the first and last day of the tour)
– Modern air-conditioned motor coach with a professional driver
– Gratuities to guide and driver
– Items of a personal nature
– Any items not specifically mentioned as included
– Meals that are not indicated on the itinerary.