Silk Road

  • Destination: Turkey Package Tours
  • Duration: 19 days
  • Price: $4680

*This tour we need a minumum 15 people, please contact us for booking* (Prices are per person in 15 participants)

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Day 1
Arrive at Istanbul airport, meet our driver and guide. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in  Istanbul
Day 2
After breakfast, we start group tour. We visit the Topkapi Palace Museum, lavish home to the Ottoman Sultans. For centuries, this was the place from which the sultans rule dover an empire that streched from Western Iran to the Atlantic  Ocean.  Arranged around a series of spacious court yards, it contains a priceles scollection of jewelry , porcelain and costumes. Legend claims that the ancient rod on display in the Pavilion of Holy Relics is the one used by Moses top art the Red Sea. Its Pavilion sand fountains evoke a sacluded, hedonistic World.  At one end of a large park stands the Blue Mosque, socalled because of its exquisite tile decoration. Its courtyard is exceptionally beautiful, and it is only mosque in Istanbul to have six minarets. Next we move on to the Hippodrome, which was the scene of chariot races and great public occasions through out the immensely long history of the Byzantine Empire. The afternoon starts at the Church of St. Chora, which has immaculately preserved early 13th century mosaics and frescoes that are among the supreme masterpieces of Medival art, with the Harrowing of Hellbeinge specially note worthy. We proceed to the Suleymaniye Mosque.  Designed by Sinan for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, this is the grandest and largest mosque in Istanbul. Its great dome and soaring minarets dominate the skyline of the Old City. Overnight in  Istanbul
Day 3
After breakfast, we start group tour. Our first stop will be the Dolmabahce Palace. Streching expansively along the European shore of the Bosphours, this ornate Baroque masterpiece, built in 1854 was the home of the late Ottoman Sultans. No expense was spared in decorating its interior, which boasts no less than fourteen tons of gold. The palace houses rich collections of Bohemian crystal and 19th and 20th century Turkish painting and sculpture. Rustem Pasha is not the largest or the best known mosque in Istanbul, but this often over looked treasure is certainly the most exquisitely decoreted. Every inch of the interior is covered with briliantly colored Iznik tiles. Close by is the 17th century Spice Bazaar, where you can find a vast diversity of spices, sacks of henna, many varieties of oil sand herbs, and of course the world’s very best Turkish Delight. We next visit Hagia Sofia which was built by the Emperor Justinianan dinaugurated in 537 AD. Forover nine centuries it was the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and it remains the world’s 4th largest church. Hagia Sofia contains some of the finest mosaics to have survived from the Byzantine period, including a truly remarkable mosaics of the Virgin and Child. We finish our day with visit to the Archaeological Museum, built at theend of the 19th century by  Osman Hamdi, Turkey’s first modern archaeologist and the discoverer of the Alexander Sarcophagus, one of the highlights of themuseum,  as well as a notedpainter in his ownright. The variety and quality of the objects on display make this among the most outstanding institutions of its kind, with fine Greek and Roman sculpture, Mesopotamian jewelry and an important collection of Hittite artifacts. Overnight in  Istanbul
Day 4
We have early breakfast and we fly to Erzurum in Turkey’s far east. Erzurum is Turkey’s highest city and stands isolated in the vastness of the anatolian plateau. It could hardly be more different from Istanbul. Its chief claim to fame is a cluster of magnificent monuments dating from the Seljuk and Mongol periods, which we will spend the afternoon exploring. We first come to the Yakutiye Medrese, which has an astonishingly ornate and fanciful portal. Next comes the Great Mosque with its vast pillared hall, and the famous Medrese of The Twin Minarets, which is probably the most architecturally ambitious structure of its kind in Turkey. Behind the Medrese stands an interesting group of tombs of varied design. Overnight in  Erzurum
Day 5
After breakfast we depart Erzurum for Yusufeli. After a short we begin to descend into the Tortum Valley and the landscape dramatically. The majestic monotony of the plateau gives way to steep-sided valleys, rushing torrents, alpine meadows and high, forested peaks. It is almost as if you have entered another country , which, in a sense, you have, since between the seventh and 13th centuries this region was a majör centre of Georgian culture and formed part of the wealthy principality of Tao-Klarjeti. The drive from Erzurum to Yusufeli is one of the most thrilling in Turkey, and on our way we will stop to visit  the great monasteries of Hoho, Osk and Ishan, which are among the supreme masterpieces of medieval, Christian art. Overnight in Yusufeli
Day 6
After breakfast we drive up into the Kackar Mountains to the Church of Barhal, which is now used a a mosque, and as a consequence, is almost perfectly preserved. In the afternoon we visit the enchanting monastery of Dort Kilise, which stands high in a wooded side-valley, above the picturesque village of Tekkale. The church is in very good condition, as are the refectory and scriptorium. The church also has priceless 10th century frescoes. Overnight in Yusufeli
Day 7
After breakfast we depart Yusufeli for Kars, along the canyons of the Coruh River, and its tributaries, stopping at the important, and spectacularly located Georgian monastaries of Opiza and Hontza on the way. Beyond them the road climbs through alpine meadows scattered with delightful wooden chalets to a high pass. On the far side of the pass everything changes once again . You have crossed from Georgian Turkey into Armenian Turkey and the realm of the Bagratid Kings of Ani. Kars is pleasant town of broad tree-lined boulevards, and owes its regular plan and elegant, neo-classical architecture to a period of Russian occupation. Overnight in Kars
Day 8
After breakfast we will spend the morning in a leisurely exploration of Kars, including the perfectly preserved 10th century Cathedral of the Holy Apostles.  In the afternoon we set out for Ani, stopping on our way to see the exquisite early 13th century Red Church, which fully lives up to its name, being constructed entirely of an astonishing bright, red stone. Ani was at its height during the 10th and early 11th  centuries, but enjoyed a second golden age in the 13th. After that it fell victim to earthquakes, invasions and shifting trade routes. Perched on the edge of a deep ravine, its ruins are among the most hauntingly beautiful in Turkey. There are places, mosques, magnificent city walls and at least eight churches of which the most imposing is the cathedral. Overnight in Kars
Day 9
After breakfast we move on to Dogubeyazit. The town itself is of no great interest, but it stands in the shadow of majestic Mount Ararat and is close to the improbable 17th century Palace of Ishak Pasha. The latter is unique and exotic blend of Armenian, Seljuk, Ottoman and Persian styles and has a distinct resemblance to an opera-set. Overnight in Kars
Day 10
After breakfast we drive to Van, stopping to see the Muradiye Waterfalls along the way. Between the 9th and 6th centuries BC, Van was known as Tushpa, and was the capital of the powerful kingdom of Urartu, which successfully resisted the constant aggression of the Assyrians. We head straight for the famous Rock of Van, which was the centre and citadel of ancient Tushpa. We will visit the monumental, rock-cut tombs of its kings, but perhaps the most memorable thing about the rock is the view from it over the vast expanse of Lake Van. Overnight in Van
Day 11
After breakfast we start a full day tour of Cavustepe, Hosap and Akhdamar. The first named is an Urartian citadel containing a palace, two temples and latrine of remarkably sophisticated design. A little further to the east, the futuristic crenellations and towers od Hosap Castle rise from the summit of a high rock. The church of Akhdamar was built in 920 by the resoundingly named King Gagik of Vaspurakan. It is relatively small, but perfectly proportioned and exquisitely located on an island in the lake. Its exterior is decorated with unique relief-sculptures depicting Biblical scenes in a lively naïve style. Overnight in Van
Day 12
After breakfast we visit the Van Museum, which has a fine Urartian artifacts, before flying to Ankara. Overnight in Ankara
Day 13
After breakfast we spend the morning in The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations,  which is indisputably one of the world’s greatest museums. Here you will find 8,000 year-old wall paintings from Neolithic town of Catal Hoyuk, magnificent, Urartian bronze couldrans, exquisite grave-goods from tomb of King Midas at Gordian, and an extraordinarily rich collection of Hittite and neo-Hittite artifacts. We drive South-East to the land of wonders that is Cappadocia. In the Neolithic period Cappadocia was caught between two active volcanoes, Mount hasan and Erciyes, which buried under  a thick layer of ash. This formed the soft malleable stone known as tufa, and over the centuries erosion and human effort combined to create the fantastic landscape we see today, with its many thousands of varicolored pinnacles and surreal rock formations hollowed out with hundreds of dwellings and churches. Overnight in Cappadocia
Day 14
After breakfast, full day private sight-seeing will start with the magical valley of Goreme,which is now an open-air museum. We will see hundreds of rockpinnacles, known as fairy chimney sand Byzantine Churches. GoremeValley was home to hundreds of monks who lived in cells carved from the rock. Several of the churches in Goreme have well preserved frescoes, for example the Karanlik Kilise (thedarkchurch), the Elmali Kilise(1190-1200) and the Church of St. Eustace(970-1148). Finest of alla re supremely elegant frescoes in the Tokali Kilise, which were painted in the 10th century by a certain Nikephoros, who probably come from Constantinople. . We move on to the Uchisar, an extraordinary rock formation towering above the landscape and visible formiles around. This rock, riddled with chamber sand tunnels, was once used as a fortres sand offers a magnificent panaromic view of Cappadocia and over 13,000 footpeek of Mt. Erciyes in the distance. From Uchisar we will drive to Dove cote Valley (Guvercinlik Vadisi), so called because of thehundred of dovecoatsper for ating the rock faces. The birds droppings provided valuable fertilizer fort he neighboring farmers. We will also explore the regian’s traditional handicrafts, carpet-weaving and pottery making in Avanos.Next we will visit the church of John The Baptist at Cavusin which is the oldest surviving church in Cappadocia. Beyond Cavusin lies the Zelve Valley, where there are monasteries and convents carved from the rock. Nearby Pasabag, also known as Monk’sValley, has amazing examples of hermitages hollowed out of volcanic rock formations. Overnight in Cappadocia
Day 15
Optional Activity: At five in the morning, smoke is beginning to rise from the village chimneys below you. The barking of dogs, startled by the balloon, attracts sleepy villagers outside to wave enthusiastically. The weird twisted landscape of corroded rock to which you have partially become accustomed from the ground level, becomes even more unearthly when viewed from several hundred feet above. A 90-minute hot air balloon flight culminating in a champagne breakfast on landing. In two words? Breathtaking and Unforgettable!

After breakfast we departure to the Agzikarahan Caravanserai, a glorious masterpiece of early 13th century Seljuk Turkish architecture. The landscape of this western region of Cappadocia is magnificent and through its heart runs the Ihlara Valley, a narrow, steep-sided yet verdant ravine that conceals many painted churches and monastic complexes. We are turn to Urgup via the “underground city” of Derinkuyu. Cappadocia has at least seven “undergroundcities” – vast labyrinths of corridor sand chambers complete with churches, stables, wine-presses and sophisticated ventilation systems that still function remarkably well. At Derinkuyu eight levels have been excavate dandare open to the public, but it is throught that there may be more than twice that number. Once back in Urgup, we spend the evening getting to know the locals. Overnight in cappadocia

Day 16
After breakfast we depart from Urgup to Konya., stopping off at the Sultanhan, another splendid Seljuk caravanserai. In the 12th and 13th centuries Konya was the capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, one of the most enlightened and tolerant states of the entire medieval period. It was also home to the great Sufi mystic and poet Rumi, who founded the Mevlevi order of Whirling Dervishes, The city is studded with intricately decorated architectural masterpieces, including the Tomb of Rumi and the Karatay Medrese, which is one of the supreme achivements of Islamic Art. Overnight in Konya
Day 17
After breakfast we depart from Konya to Antalya, the most attractive and sophisticated town on Turkey’s South cost, driving down through the majestic forested Taurus Mountains, and stopping on our way at the great classical cities of Aspendos and Perge. The first-named has what may be world’s best-preserved Roman theatre, as well as a magnificent agora and a fine aqueduct. Perge, which is only a few miles away, has a stadium, a theatre, a city gate, two bath complexes, an elegant agora, and is traversed by a very grand colonnaded street. Overnight in Antalya
Day 18
After breakfast we spend a leisurely morning exploring Antalya’s  execellent museum and its delightful old quarter. In the afternoon we head up into the mountains to Termessos, one of the most dramatic ancient sites in Turkey, an done of the very few cities to successfully resist Alexander The Great in his rampage across Anatolia. Here are temples, a gymnasium, a magnificent theatre, a colonnaded street and a vast necropolis, but what makes Termessos unique and unforgettable is its wildly romantic setting among crags, precipices and ravines. Overnight in Antalya
Day 19
After breakfast we transfer you to Antalya Airport for morning flight to Istanbul  connecting with your home bound flight.
Including

– Istanbul/Erzurum – Antalya/Istanbul flight tickets (Turkish Airlines)

– 18 night’ accommodation including breakfast at the mentioned hotels (standard rooms)

– Air conditioned luxury bus with driver on tours and transfers

– Professional guiding on tours

– Lunches on tours

– All admission fees to the museums and sights

– Taxes

Excluding

– International flight tickets

– Dinners

– Drinks during the lunches

– Not mandatory but customary tips

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