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A Thrilling Journey Into History: A Study Tour (11 Nights / 12 Days)

 Day 1: Arrival at Istanbul Airport.  

Day 2: After breakfast, we will go on a guided tour of the 6th century Ayasofya Camii (Cathedral of St. Sophia).  Explore the Yerebatan Saray (Basilica Cistern) – one of a number of surviving Byzantine cisterns. Visit Museum of the Ancient Orient and Archaeological Museum. See the three remaining early Byzantine monuments of the Atmeydanı (Hippodrome) – Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column and Column of Constantine Porphyrogenitus (the Brazen Column).  Visit the Mosaic Museum.  Visit the 17th century Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque).  Lunch and Dinner at recommended local café/restaurant on our own expense.

Special Request: We can adjust our timing for the Whirling Dervish show at the Galata Mevlihane in Galata if there is performance in the weekend days.  

Day 3: After breakfast, we will visit the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans, Dolmabahce Palace along the Bosporus. Walk through the back streets of the Spice Market and See the superb Iznik tiles that cover the walls of the Rustem Pasa Camii (Rustem Pasha Mosque).  Visit Kariye Camii (Church of St. Saviour in Chora) with very fine Byzantine mosaics and paintings and visit the beautiful Suleymaniye Camii (Suleymaniye Mosque Complex).  Dinner at local restaurant on our own expense.  

Day 4 : Early breakfast before transferring to the Airport for domestic flight to Kayseri   On arrival, have an orientation drive round the city.  Visit the Gevher Nesibe Medical History Museum - the world’s first medical teaching school and hospital opened in 1205.  Drive to  (about 1.5 hours) and transfer to the hotel for the 1st of 2 nights’ stay.  Explore Uchisar in Cappadocia, a vast crag honeycombed with man-made caves – climb up from inside for panoramic views across the countryside.  Walk from Red Valley to Cavusin Village through the hidden churches of the region.     

Day 5: Explore the Valley of Goreme – a World Heritage open-air museum with 7 Byzantine churches, a convent and a refectory – 4th century, founded by St. Basil.  Drive to Zelve – see the rock-cut mosque with a spectacular monastery complex cut out of a cliff-face.  Drive to Avanos – famous for its red-earth pottery.  Simple snacks for lunch or pack a picnic lunch on our own expense or a village lunch in Ayvali Village.  

Day 6: After breakfast, we will drive to Konya (about 3 hours), former capital of the Seljuks and home of the mystic Sufi sect of Islam with their Whirling Dervishes.  But first, we visit the amazing underground city of Derinkuyu 18-20 storeys high or Kaymakli which are possibly Hittite in origins but expanded by the Byzantines between the 5th and 10th centuries into fully-fledged cities 35 meters deep. We will continue for a guided walk in the Ihlara Valley and explore a few early rock-cut churches in magnificent gorge scenery (we will go down to the Ihlara Gorge). After snack lunch in Agacli restaurant at Aksaray, we explore the Sultanhan Caravanserai, a 13th century ‘mote’ for travelers on the Silk Road. Upon arrival in Konya, visit Mevlana Tekke (Mevlana Monastery) – a sacred shrine, mausoleum and museum all in one with a tower of sea green tiles.  Visit the Karatay Medrese with its magnificently carved entrance portal – now a museum for Seljuk and Ottoman tiles.   

Day 7: After breakfast, we will drive 430 km from Konya’s high plateau through the lake region around Aksehir to Pamukkale.  It is a scenic road passing along the Lake Egirdir and Beysehir.  On the way to Pamukkale, we will visit Pisidian Antioch, located in Yalvac.  It became a Roman colony in 25 BC in the region of Pisidia.  It houses wonderful ruins especially the imperial cult center dedicated to Augustus and Tiberius. It is also one of the few cities with famous Res Gestae, the Deeds of the Divine Augustus by Augustus himself just before his death. Antioch was also visited by Paul in his missionary journeys in the 1st century AD.  Visit Laodicaea before checking in the hotel.

Day 8: After breakfast, we will explore the natural wonders/fantastic rock formations and hot springs (‘Cotton Castle’) of Pamukkale.  Visit the ancient holy city of Hierapolis.  Enjoy lunch on our own expense in Degirmen Restaurant in Denizli. This is a trout fish farm restaurant and serves the freshest trout or picnic lunch on the way to Aphrodisias.  After lunch, we will visit an archaeological showpiece – the ancient Greek city of Aphrodiasis in the whole afternoon.

Day 9: After breakfast, we will go on a whole-day visit of the magnificent ancient wonder of Ephesus.    Lunch at Selcuk and we don’t have to leave Ephesus.  Dinner is on your own expense at a local restaurant in Sirince Village.  

Day 10 : After breakfast, visit the ancient sea-trading cities of Priene, Miletos and Didyma.  Priene is the best preserved Hellenistic town in Turkey with a great location on the mouth of the River Meander. It is a ‘must-see’ and one of the oldest completely planned towns from the 3rd century BC.  Miletos is the birth place of Philosophy and its renowned philosophers - Thales, Anaximenes, and Anaximandros - in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Didyma, one of the most important oracle centers of antiquity, has the best preserved Hellenistic temple dedicated to Apollo. We will end our day in Lake Bafa and visit Heraclea under Latmos with it splendid city wall.  Dinner is on our own and it might be in fish restaurant in Kusadasi.  

Day 11: After early breakfast, we drive to the picturesque towns of Birgi (probably 14th century but with beautiful 18th/19th centuries house) and Tire (impressive Islamic architecture in the town’s old quarter). Light snack/picnic lunch on our own expense.  Then we will visit the impressive ruins of Sardis – the Temple of Artemis, the Synagogue, and the Bath Complex. The city prospered as the capital of King Croesus in the 6th century BC. We will continue to Izmir, the 3rd most populous city of Turkey (ancient name is Smyrna – birth place of Homer) and enjoy our dinner at a local Izmir restaurant on our own expense before driving to Izmir Airport. We will fly to Istanbul in the evening and on arrival in Istanbul transfer to the hotel. .

Day 12:  After breakfast, we will visit the Topkapi Sarayi (Topkapi Palace) and Harem– superb imperial palace of the Ottoman sultans for over 400 years. We will go on a morning cruise on the Bosphorus Strait in private boat. We will have a farewell lunch somewhere nice on our own expense before transferring to Istanbul Airport. 


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We toured Western Turkey...

We toured Western Turkey with Sevil in 2004, starting in Istanbul then driving to Cappadoccia over the course of ten days. Sevil was an absolutely terrific guide, full of knowledge and extremely capable of managing the arrangements. Everything flowed perfectly, and we especially enjoyed Sevil's restaurant recommendations. Everywhere we went we dined at the best, most authentic places, avoiding the ordinary in favor of the extraordinary. We're looking forward to another trip soon, with Sevil as our guide.

--Jim Draper and Brian St. Germain, Birmingham, Michigan, USA

Turkey is a wonderful place

Turkey is a wonderful place. It has far surpassed what I had imagined. The landscape, the history you bring the ancient past alive with your stories and your extensive knowledge. What a true pleasure it has been to travel in your country with you as our guide. The sea was a treat, the homestay a special time and the scenery just marvellous. Thank you.

C. Argyus, CA

Turkey is a beautiful Discovery

Turkey is a beautiful Discovery
And It is also you!
Thank you with all our heart,

M&Martin Stoller

Thanks so much for all your work and preparation

I have had a wonderful, wonderful trip through Turkey and its multi-layered history. Thank you so much because you were so much a part of the trip. I will always remember so much-our tour of Hattusa, the marvels of Cappadocia, our tour of Catalhoyuk with Basak, and our lovely visit with Himmet and his family in Kumbet. And there were first the highlights everyday and was filled with wondrous things to learn and see, and your information was the key to it all. Thanks so much for all your work and preparation. I have learned so much. I am sure you will be a success-you are gifted,caring, thoughtful person.

Anne Higgins, Santa Rosa CA

We are thankful for Cultural Trails’ organization. During September 2004, The Swedish Trade Council in Istanbul organized a three day seminar for the major customers of Scandinavia’s renowned banks, Scandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB). Our Guests were the major CEO’s of the Scandinavian companies, with exceptional and demanding desires and wishes. During these days Cultural Trails organized a tourist tour activity in Istanbul. The activity included total customer responsibility in guiding, transfer and printed information booklets on Istanbul as well as other practical issues around the event for the Scandinavian ensemble. Our guests were very pleased with the venue; hence we are thankful for Cultural Trails’ organization. We highly recommend their services.

Exportradet/Swedish Trade Council Istanbul

Highly professional and very pleasant staff... Having arrived in Istanbul on business with only one day available to see the sights we were delighted with the personal tour which was well planned and organised by the highly professional and very pleasant staff from Cultural Trails. Their planning and organisation enabled us to ensure that we saw as many sights of key interest as possible and ensuring that we were both collected and returned to our hotel in complete safety.

Cheetham & Co
David Cheetham

Highly professional and very pleasant staff... Having arrived in Istanbul on business with only one day available to see the sights we were delighted with the personal tour which was well planned and organised by the highly professional and very pleasant staff from Cultural Trails. Their planning and organisation enabled us to ensure that we saw as many sights of key interest as possible and ensuring that we were both collected and returned to our hotel in complete safety.

Cheetham & Co
David Cheetham


We highly recommend... October 2003

We highly recommend Cultural Trails as a specialist Travel Designer and brillant organizer. We certainly will be on a large number of their tours.

A.B. and J.W.A. Evans London
Fax/Phone +44 1628 527825

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The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page. St. Augustine (354-430)