Triangle of Culture

  • Destination: Turkey Package Tours
  • Duration: 11 days
  • Price: $3723

*Private tour pp with a 2 participants*

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Day 1

Arrive Istanbul International Airport and our driver meets you at the exit gate, with a board on which your name is written and transfers you to your hotel. Rest of the day on your own. Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 2

Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. We visit the Rustem Pasa Mosque. Designed by Sinan, the greatest of Ottoman architects, Rustem Pashais 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. Then proceed to the Suleymaniye Mosque. Designed by Sinan for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, this is the grandest and largest mosque in Istanbul, and great dome and soaring minarets dominate the skyline of the Old City. The mornings end at the  Church of St. Savior in Chora, which has beautifully preserved early 13th century mosaics and frescoes that are among the supreme masterpieces of medieval art. In the afternoon, we visit the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, which contains a priceless collection of Ottoman calligraph in gold, intricate miniatures, ceramics and magnificent carpets, some dating back to the 13th century. What makes the museum unique is the fact that it is housed in the former palace of Ibrahim Pasha, one of Suleyman the Magnificent’s grand viziers. Overnight in Istanbul

Day 3

Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. Our tour will start at the Hippodrome, which was the scene of chariot races and great public occasions throughout the immensely long history of the Byzantine Empire. Close by looms the enourmous mass of Hagia Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian and inaugurated in 537 AD. For over 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 hounting Virgin and Child in the eastern apse. Just across a park stands the Blue Mosque, so called because of its exquisite Iznik tile decoration. Thousands and thousands of these exteremly precious tiles line the walls in a mezmerizing display of floral extravangance. The mosque’s courtyard is exceptional beautiful, and it is the only mosque in Istanbul to have six minarets. Our next stop is the Underground Cistern which , like Hagia Sophia, is the work of Justinian. Its roof a supported by a forest of over 300 columns. Nearby lies the Mosaic Museum, which has magnificent 6th century floor mosaics from the Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperors. We finish our tour with a visit to the Cinili Kiosk, the oldest Turkish building in Istanbul, dating from 1472, to see the museum’s collection of ceramic tiles dating from the 12th-19th centuries.

Day 4

Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private 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. Next we move on the Church of St. Savior in Chora, which has beautifully preserved early 13th century mosaics and frescoes that are among the supreme masterpieces of medieval art and indicate that the political and economic decline of the Byzantine Empire in no way affected its creative expression. Then proceed to the Suleymaniye Mosque. Designed by Sinan for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, this is the grandest and largest mosque in Istanbul, and great dome and soaring minarets dominate the skyline of the Old City. Sinan, the graeatest of Ottoman architects, was perpetually challanged by the size and symmetry  of Hagia Sofia, and this mosque is one the most impressive reflections of that competition. We will complete our tour at the Grand Bazaar. The Bazaar’s first phase of construction began in 1455 under Mehmet the Conqueror, but it was added to many times over the centuries. The result is an enourmous labyrinth of covered streets lined with thousands of shops selling for example, hand-woven carpets and kilims, gold and silver jewelry, hand painted ceramics, leather goods, fine antiques amd illuminated manuscripts. Overnight in Istanbul

Day 5

Our driver meets you at the hotel and transfers you to Istanbul Airport for the flight to Kayseri. Our guide and driver meet you at Kayseri Airport on your arrival and start the private tour. Mustafapasa (Sinasos), an ancient Greek town with its spectacular old Greekhouses: very fine examples of late Greek settlements and architecture. Further stops include Ayvali and Taskinpasa, a 900 years old village thats how sits Seljuk roots in its Medrese (theologicalschool) and a mosque. During the Middle Ages, the Byzantine carved hundred of churches out of the soft the malleable rock and sheltered themselves from armies of the Abbasid Caliphate in refuges descending hundreds of feet into the earth. Between 9th and 11th centuries, many of the churches were lavish decoreted with frescoes, many of which can still be seen. We will start our tour with a visit to Keslik Monastery, which houses the well-preserved 9th century Chapel of St. Stephen, several refectories and the Archangel Chapel; and Cemil Village, home to descendents of the village’s earliest Orthodox Christians. Overnight in Cappadocia

Day 6

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! Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. 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 7

Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. 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 8

Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. Today we will have a day trip to Pergamum. A step back in ancient times today with a visit to the hilltop ruins of Pergamum which once boasted the greatest library of the ancient world which once held 200,000 scrolls. The Asclepion and Acropolis of Pergamum are World famous. Pergamum is where was first invented. It boasted the contents of a fabulous library, given by Anthony to Cleopatra and later lost in a fire at Alexandria. The Temple of Zeus was another ancient marvel although much of it is now in a specially constructed museum in Berlin. The Asclepion was the center of healing an done of its great doctors was Gelen(120-190 AD). We will also explore one of the famous colorful weekly food markets of Bergama, the modern name of Pergamum. We will return to Sirince late in the afternoon. Overnight in Sirince

Day 9

Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. Today we first drive to the Virgin Mary’s House; after that we visit to the Church of St. John for a tour and a scenic overview of the surrounding area. From here our guide will point out the location of the ancient harbor of Ephesus and describe the silting process that led to the demise of this important Roman city. Of special interest is the tomb of John and the baptismal where new believers were immersed. We will also be able to view the site of the ancient wonder – the Temple of Artimus and the nearby Mosque of Jesus (Jesus is a respected prophet to Muslims). This afternoon we’ll view a wealth of artifacts awaiting us at the Museum of Ephesus and visit the archeological site of Biblical Ephesus, which hosts a large restoration effort and miles of ancient treasures. Ephesus was once a thriving port town of 250,000 people. Today you can still see the spectacular excavations of the major streets in this ancient city where we view the Library, Agora, theatre, colorful mosaics, a panoramic view of the surrounding ancient port area including a wealth of church history and cultural insight. We will return to Sirince late in the afternoon. Overnight in Sirince

Day 10

Our guide and driver will pick you up at 09:30 for a full day private tour. We drive to Aphrodisias, which is now one of the most popular ancient sites in Turkey, and it easy to see why. Its architecture is magnificent, and the ateliers of its sculptors were famous throughout the Roman World. There was a settlement on the site as early as 5,800 BC, but Aphrodisias did not develop into a majör city until the Roman era. Before that its claim to fame was its Temple of Aphrodite. The patronage of emprerors including Augustus, Tiberius and Hadrian completely transformed the apperance of the city. Among the monumental structures that have survived, many in an excellent state of preservation, are a vast stadium, the Baths of Hadrian, an exquisite odeon, the Portico of Tiberius, a sebasteion (that is, a shrine to the deified emperors) and a theatre seating 8,000. We visit the on-site museum, which contains a superb display of sculpture found during the excavations. Overnight in Sirince.

Day 11

Transfer to the Izmir port for a morning flight from Izmir to Istanbul connecting with your homebound flight

Including

– Istanbul/Kayseri/Izmir/Istanbul flight tickets (Turkish Airlines)

– 10 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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