(NOTE: This program is available on ANY day of the week. Just ask!)
Let us know if you need any assistance with transfers from your own Istanbul hotel (arrival or departure).
Wednesday - Day 1: Istanbul - Gaziantep - Adiyaman - (D)
In the morning, you'll be met at your Istanbul hotel and transferred to the airport for your 1.5 hour domestic flight to Gaziantep.
You'll then be met by your English-speaking tour guide, who will accompany you on your visit to the Gaziantep Museum.
* Gaziantep Museum of Archaeology features ceramic pieces from the Neolithic Age; various objects, figures, seals from the Calcolithic and Bronze Ages; and stone and bronze objects, jewelery, ceramics, coins, and glass objects from the Urartu, Hittite, Persian, Roman and Byzantium periods. The impressive mosaics of the ancient city of Zeugma are also here.After enjoying a nice, leisurely lunch at a traditional restaurant, where you will get to sample Gaziantep's world-famous lahmacun (Turkish pizza), and baklava, we'll head out on a scenic drive to Adiyaman, where you'll check into your hotel.
Overnight stay in Adiyaman
Thursday - Day 2: Nemrut - Urfa - (B/L/D)
Around 3:00 AM, we'll drive to the summit of the 2,134-meter-high (7,001 ft.) Mt. Nemrut, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy the magical sunrise over the breathtaking statues of the ancient Commagene temple and tomb. You'll also visit the capital of the Commagene Kingdom; Arsaemia; a tumulus on Karakus Hill and Cendere Bridge, before heading to Sanliurfa. Overnight in Urfa
* Nemrut : Mt. Nemrut's statues from the 1st century BCE and belong to the ancient Commagene civillization.
King Antiochus (Theos of Commagene) built the mountain-top tomb flanked by huge statues (8–9 m/26–30 ft high) of himself, two lions, two eagles and various Greek, Armenian, and Iranian gods, such as Hercules-Vahagn, Zeus-Aramazd or Oromasdes (associated with the Iranic god Ahura Mazda), Tyche, and Apollo-Mithras. These statues were once seated, with names of each god inscribed on them. The heads of these statues have been removed from their bodies, and are now scattered throughout the site.
The western terrace features a large slab picturing a lion and the celestialarrangement of the stars and the planets of Jupiter, Mercury and Mars on July 7th, 62 BC, an indication of when construction may have began on this monument. The eastern portion is well-preserved, is composed of several layers of rock, and has a path following the base of the mountain; this suggests evidence of a walled passageway linking the eastern and western terraces.
After lunch we will explore more of Urfa the city that's Famous for kebabs, this city in fact has a great historical past.
*The Lake of Sacred Fish is the focal point and features the adjacent Halilurrahman Mosque and Dersa Mosque. Near Urfa, bordering Syria, we'll visit a famed city of Mesopotamia, Harran, with its earthen mud huts and remains of the palace and mosque. Overnight stay in Urfa
Friday - Day 3: Urfa - Mardin - (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we'll depart Urfa and drive on to Diyarbakir. On the way, we'll visit the archaeological site of Gobekli Tepe, Harran and Mardin. Upon your arrival in Diyarbakir, you'll enjoy a panoramic city tour.
* Harran is famous for its traditional 'beehive' adobe houses, constructed entirely without wood. The mud-based construction keeps them cool inside (essential for the hot Anatolian climate) and is thought to have been unchanged for the last 3,000 years. Some were even still in use as private dwellings until the 1980s! (However, the adobe homes remaining today are tourist exhibits, and now, most of Harran's residents live in a newly-built smaller village, about 2 kilometers away from the main site.) At the historical site, the ruins of the city walls and fortifications are mostly in place, with one full city gate still standing, along with some other structures.
* Gobekli Tepe is a hilltop sanctuary set on the highest point of an elongated mountain ridge.
It is the oldest human-made religious structure yet to be discovered. The site, currently undergoing excavation by German and Turkish archaeologists, was most likely erected in the 9th millennium BCE (c. 11,000 years ago).
* Mardin is known for its Arabic-like architecture, and for its strategic location on a rocky mountain overlooking the plains of northern Syria. Most Syriac Orthodox churches and monasteries in the city were built on ancient Assyrian-Babylonian temple sites and some are still active today. The Syriac Orthodox Saffron Monastery was founded in 439 AD, is one of the oldest functioning monasteries in the world. Overnight in Mardin
\Saturday - Day 4: Mardin - Diyarbakir - (B/L/D)
In the morning, we'll depart Mardin for Diyarbakir; on the way we'll visit the towns of Hasankeyf and Midyat.
* Midyat - Christians once made up the majority of Midyat's population but now number less than 10%; however, the churches, now under long term protection, still dominate the skyline of Midyat.
* Hasankeyf is rich in history, and is famous for its thousands of caves that surround the city, many of which are multi-storied and water-supplied. Amazingly, both churches and mosques were also carved into these cliffs; numerous ancient cemeteries exist throughout the area as well.
* Diyarbakir is surrounded by a nearly intact, dramatic series of high walls of black basalt forming a 5.5 km (3.4 mi) circle around the old city. There are four gates into the old city and 82 watch-towers on the walls, which were built in antiquity, restored and extended by the Roman emperor Constantius in 349. Only the Great Wall of China surpasses these walls in terms of size.
Overnight stay in Diyarbakir
Sunday - Day 5: Diyarbakir - Van - (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we'll depart Diyarbakir and enjoy a scenic drive to Van; upon arrival we will check into our hotel.
Overnight stay in Van
Monday - Day 6: Van - (B/L/D)
Today, you'll enjoy a full-day tour of the city of Van and surroundings.
Sites you will visit:
* Hosap Castle, situated on a craggy outcropping along many of the area's silk routes, was built in the 17th century. The castle is impressive in both its size and the view it affords.
* Akdamar Island is the island's main attraction. Other than its stunning location within Lake Van, it is the home to the 10th-century Armenian cathedral, the Church of the Holy Cross. It was built by Bishop Manuel during the King Gagik I, in 915-921 AD. The reddish volcanic stone of the church set against the backdrop of Lake Van'a vividly-blue waters makes for an instant and unforgettable impression. After visiting these sites we will return to our hotel.
Overnight stay in Van
Tuesday - Day 7: Van - Dogubeyazit - Kars - (B/D)
After breakfast, we will depart Van and drive along the Iranian border to Dogubeyazit; we'llalso visit Muradiye Falls, take in the spectacular views of Mount Ararat, and visit Ishak Pasa Palace.
Sites you will visit:
* Mount Ararat: in Judeo-Christian tradition it is synonymous with the "Mountains of Ararat" where, according to the book of Genesis, Noah's Ark came to rest. The documented history of Mount Ararat is indeed long, beginning in the the 4th century with Jerome's reading of Josephus.
* Ishak Pasa Palace is an Ottoman-period palace whose construction began in 1685 by Colak Abdi Pasha, the bey of Beyazit province. According to the inscription on its door, the Harem section of the palace was completed by his grandson Ishak (Isaac) Pasha in 1784. The Palace is more of a complex than a palace; it was the second-most important administrative campus after Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. The palace, built on the side of a mountain 5 km (3 mi.) east of Dogubeyazit, is a rare and magnificent example of the architectural style from the 18th-century Ottoman "Lale Devri" period.
Overnight stay in Kars.
Wednesday - Day 8: Kars - Ani - Ayder - (B/L/D)
After breakfast we will go on a panoramic tour of the ruins of Ani.
* Ani is an uninhabited medieval Armenian city-site, and was once the capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom that covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey. The city is located on a triangular site, is visually dramatic with its natural defenses, protected on its eastern side by the ravine of the Akhurian River. Called the "City of 1001 Churches", Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world. After our visit we will continue on to Ayder, where, upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel.
Overnight stay in Ayder
Thursday - Day 9: Ayder - Trabzon - (B/L/D)
We'll start the day visiting amazing scenic sites, including waterfalls, traditional villages, and picturesque tea plantations.
Sites you will visit :
* Ayder is first mentioned in official papers dating back to 1871 when thermal springs were first discovered in Ayder's dense forest. In addition to the numerous waterfalls along Ayder Creek, this area is also famous for its Rhodendendron honey.
* Rize's main exports are agricultural, with tea and kiwi fruit being its most popular commodities.
Overnight stay in Trabzon
Friday - Day 10 - Trabzon - Istanbul - (B/L)
After breakfast, we will visit Trabzon's Hagia Sophia Church and Ataturk's Mansion.
The Hagia Sophia Church, a stunning Byzantine-period church, is one of the town's most important attractions.
Ataturk's Mansion is a villa that was built in 1890 for a local Greek merchant. In 1924, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk stayed here during his visit to Trabzon, and stayed here again in 1937. It has since acted as a shrine to the memory of the first President of the Turkish Republic.
After lunch we will visit the awe-inspiring and oft-photographed Sumela Monastery.
* Sumela Monastery sits high up on the cliffs of Mela, southeast of Trabzon. It was founded in the 4th century by two Greek monks, Barnabas and Sophronius, who were guided to the site by an icon of a "black" image of the Virgin Mary, elegantly painted by St. Luke. After their deaths, Sumela became a place of pilgrimage. Decorated with frescoes, Sumela's treasures include priceless manuscripts and silver plates. Since the monastery was rebuilt several times, the ruins seen today date largely to the 19th century. During the Ottoman era, Sumela enjoyed the protection of the sultans, but it was ultimately abandoned and also badly-damaged during the War of Independence. In recent years, thankfully, extensive restoration has been carried out.
After the tour, we'll transfer you to the Trabzon airport and put you on a 1-hour, 45-minute flight to Istanbul, arriving in Istanbul in the evening.
* * * Program ends * * *
We look forward to serving you again on a future trip!
Prices are starting from 1285 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* All hotels (each of them personally-chosen by guest)
* All land transfers in comfortable vehicles
* All meals mentioned in the itinerary (B - breakfast, L - lunch & D - dinner)
* Professional English speaking tour guides
* Domestic flight tickets from Istanbul to Gaziantep
* Domestic flight tickets from Trabzon to Istanbul
* All admission charges to ancient sites
* All other taxes and service charges
* International flight tickets to Istanbul
* Drinks with meals