24 MARCH 2015 / TUESDAY: ARR ISTANBUL
Although it is not the capital, Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the leading industrial, commercial and cultural center.
It spreads on both sides of the beautiful Bosphorus, which was naturally formed many centuries ago as the sea water occupied the deep and narrow valley. The Bosphorus connects the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea, and is known as the place where Europe and Asia meet. Istanbul has been the capital for three empires. Originally called Byzantium, the city was renamed Constantinople in A.D.330 by Emperor Constantine, who chose it as the site of the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today, Istanbul is a multifaceted city of ethereal minarets, monumental mosque domes and a wealth of historic sites as well as all the signs of modern life from high-rise buildings to cell phones.
Night at leisure. Overnight in Istanbul.
25 MARCH 2015 / WEDNESDAY: ISTANBUL
After breakfast, you will have a full-day city tour of Istanbul. Explore the captivating Underground Cistern (The Basilica Cistern). It is thought to have been built after the Nika Revolt in 532 AD. It was known as the Basilica Cistern during the Roman Period, as there was once a Stoa Basilica above the pre-existing site. After the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks, it was forgotten until rediscovered in 1545. Today it has a rather eerie and mystical ambiance. When the city was first founded, the acropolis was a typical Mediterranean trading center surrounded by city walls. TheHippodrome was built by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus towards the end of the 2nd century. The Blue Mosque, just opposite Hagia Sophia, is one of the most prominent landmarks of Istanbul, and is quite impressive with its domes and semi-domes, courtyards and six slender minarets. Construction began in 1609 and was completed in 1616. Topkapı Palace, which in 1924 was turned into a museum, is situated on the acropolis, the site of the first settlement in Istanbul. It commands an impressive view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. The palace complex is surrounded by five kilometers of walls and occupies an area of 700,000 square meters at the tip of the historical peninsula. Later visit to Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, a 540-year-old covered shopping mall of 64 streets, 4000 shops, 22 entrances and 25,000 workers. It sells a plethora of items to bargain for, including Turkish carpets, glazed tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, apparel made of leather, cotton and wool, meerschaum pipes and alabaster bookends. Night at leisure.
Overnight in Istanbul. OPTIONAL DINNER AT KUMKAPI (B)
26 MARCH 2015 / THURSDAY: ISTANBUL
Free day at Leisure (B)
27 MARCH 2015 / FRIDAY: ISTANBUL
We start to walk to Taksim Square from the Hotel, the center of the modern Istanbul. Then proceed to Beyoğlu,Pera, Istiklal Street and Galata area. "Walking tour of Taksim , Pera, Galata districts" without vehicle ;without entries without lunch Their guide will be with the group. From Taksim to Galata Tower is a route that you shouldn't miss. You pass the Istiklal street and reach the Tunel area. There are nice pubs and restaurants around the Tunel area. After Tunel you will reach the historical Galata Tower. Galata, and Beyoğlu further north with its main thoroughfare, the pedestrianized Istiklal Street, and the adjoining Taksim Square is the district of Istanbul north of Sultanahmet/Old City, across the Golden Horn. This district, especially Taksim Square is usually considered the "city center" of Istanbul. Primarily visited for its nightlife, this district has also its own share of sights and accommodation. Galata (Turkish: Karaköy) gained its importance by the virtue of transforming into a trade colony of the Genoese and the Venetians, beside then-Byzantine Constantinople. After Ottomans captured Istanbul, the autonomous status of Galata was left untouched, except that its city walls were razed (except a few disconnected parts in the length of a few meters spotted by the archaeologists here and there). The first time Beyoğlu area (Pera in the past), which lies north of Galata, was settled is during 1850's, when Grand Rue de Pera ("the Great Road of Pera"), today's Istiklal Street (İstiklal Caddesi), was opened. Taksim Square (Taksim Meydanı) is even younger, it has taken its existing appearance as late as 1930s. Night at leisure. (B)
28 MARCH 2015 / SATURDAY: ISTANBUL CAPPADOCIA
The region known as Cappadocia includes the centers of Urgup, Goreme, Avanos, Uchisar, Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı and Ihlara. It is a stunning area of other-worldly rock formations, subterranean churches and underground dwellings. Cappadocia was a refuge for the early Christians, who escaped persecution by living and worshipping underground. There are an estimated 3,000 rock churches in this region. Surrounding the area are the amazing Breakfast at hotel and on to the famous Hagia Sophia, which occupies a prominent place in the history of art and architecture. It is one of the rare works of this size and age that has survived over the centuries. The church is erroneously known as Saint Sophia in the west. The basilica was actually dedicated to divine wisdom. In the afternoon flight to Nevsehir. rock formations known evocatively as 'Fairy Chimneys'. The area is also famous for its carpet-weaving, wines and the distinctive red pottery of the Avanos area. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia (B,D)
29 MARCH 2015 / SUNDAY: CAPPADOCIA
Today you explore the more of the Cappadocia region. The village of Göreme is at the heart of the area's tourist industry, and many of its villagers still live in cave dwellings. Some have been converted into pensions. Visit the Open Air Museum of Goreme which resembles a vast monastic complex composed of scores of refectory monasteries placed side-by-side, each with its own fantastic church. The area covered by this Open Air Museum forms a coherent geographical entity and represents historical unity. There are eleven refectories within the Museum, with rock-cut churches tables and benches. Each is associated with a church. Most of the churches in Goreme Open Air Museum belong to the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Then you will visit the Dark Church. The entrance is from the north through a winding tunnel which opens into a barrel-vaulted narthex. This church dates to the end of the 12th century.
The Snake Church has a linear plan, consisting of two chambers, and boasts frescoes dating to the 11th century. Your next stop is the Apple Church, one of the most prominent buildings in the area with its vivid colors, four columns and a central dome with more frescoes from the 11th and 12th centuries. You will continue to the Buckle Church, a complex of four main chambers, and contains some of the most important samples of paintings that spans various periods. Departing the Goreme Open Air Museum, visit Uchisar, a natural rock citadel that is the tallest point in the area and is visible for a great distance. Finally, you stop at Avanos, a center for terracotta art since 3,000 B.C., to watch a demonstration in a pottery workshop, and a carpet-weaving workshop before returning to your hotel. "Optional Folkloric night show" . Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia (B,D) "OPTIONAL HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE".
30 MARCH 2015 / MONDAY: CAPPADOCIA-KONYA
After breakfast at the hotel , start to visit "Cavusin Village", an old Seljukian and Ottoman village, visit the Cave Mosque. Visit Ortahisar with its castle. Drive to the underground city of Kaymaklı, a troglodyte cave-citie that was excavated as early as the Hittite era, which reached its height in the 14th century B.C. These underground cities expanded over the centuries as various marauding armies traversed Central Anatolia in search of captives and plunder. There are 36 underground cities in Cappadocia. Drive to Konya. Visit The Mevlana Museum (Mevlana Müzesi), also known as the Green Mausoleum or Green Dome, which is the original lodge of the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes, a mystical Sufi Muslim group. It containes the tomb and shrine of the Mevlana, or Rumi, which remains an important place of pilgrimage. Dinner and overnight in Konya (B,D)
31 MARCH 2015 / TUESDAY: KONYA-PAMUKKALE
After breakfast drive to Pamukkale. Pamukkale is one of Turkey's top attractions and a precious in the world with its cotton-look terraces. The underground water once gave life to the ancient city of Hierapolis now helps
Pamukkale be one of the most important thermal centers of Turkey. Tourists and locals visit Pamukkale and Hierapolis frequently not only for its extraordinary look and its ancient history but also for wellness. Scientifically proven to cure many diseases, the waters attract people and there are many thermal hotels in the area that serve 12 months a year. Visit Hierapolis whichis an archaeological site with remains from Greco Roman and Byzantine era. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale. (B,D)
01 APRIL 2015 / WEDNESDAY: PAMUKKALE-EPHESUS-IZMIR
Drive to Selçuk. Today discover the ancient Ionian city of Ephesus, which dates from the 1st century B.C. Near the Aegean Sea, this was one of the great cities of the Greeks in Asia Minor and home to the Temple of Artemis, also one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is a sacred site for Christians for its association with several biblical figures, including St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary. On the way to Ephesus, you stop at the house of the Virgin Mary, where she supposedly spent her later days. The Vatican has recognized this small house in the Solmissos Mountains (Bulbul Mountain) as the final resting place of the Virgin Mary. A small shrine dedicated to St. Mary was found when the ruins of the house were first discovered. In Ephesus you have the chance to see spectacular ruins, some of which have recently been excavated. Enter through the Magnesia Gate walk with your guide into the ruins of this Roman provincial capital. Your route takes you past the Odeon, the Bouleterion, the Fountain of Trajan, the Temple of Hadrian, the Brothel, the Celsus Library, the Agoras, the Roman Baths, the Gymnasiums and the Great Theatre. The theater had seating for 25,000, and is where St. Paul preached to the Ephesians. Visit the Basilica of St. John, now in ruins, built over the tomb of St. John the Apostle. It once rivaled St. Sophia in size and you still see graceful columns, mosaics and frescoes. The Temple of Artemis was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction in 401. Dinner and overnight in Izmir. (B,D)