Treasures of Turkey 2020 Tour
Istanbul, Pamukkale, Urla, Ephesus and Cappadocia
September 5th – 15th, 2020
It’s been a few years since I have been back to Turkey… beautiful, mesmerising, colourful and friendly Turkey and I am so looking forward to showing you what is here…it will simply amaze you.
Istanbul is an old city; you can see the remains of many ancient civilizations and their culture in harmony with Turkish culture. The old versus the new, the traditional versus the modern is a conflict a visitor often observes. The city is full of contrasts, and colourful views, where the blowing winds from the seven peaks of Anatolian Olympus merge into each other… Where Amazon’s cooled their bodies in the waves that break apart from the Black Sea and roll mightily against the shore… Where love is symbolised in the Maiden’s Tower… Where stand the rocks of Symplegad that brought nightmares to the Argonauts…
Built on seven hills on Asia and Europe… Capital of three empires… Where romance and traffic jams go hand in hand… Lively and exciting… A world metropolis… and when you hear the call to prayer, you will understand a bit more….
Denizli is located in the southeast of the Aegean region and the southwest of the Anatolian Peninsula and is a gateway between Mediterranean, known as the Turkish Riviera and Aegean, known as old Ionia regions. The city is established on the skirts of Babadag and surrounded with little meandering rivers which water all the plantations with its several branches and streams making the province very fertile. Pamukkale, which was formed from hot spring water, is a heavenly lime and the best-known natural phenomenon of Turkey. Pamukkale is 2,700 meters long and 160 meters in height and it can be visible even from a distance of 50 kms with a bright white color. In addition to the travertines, an ancient pool, an amphitheater, an archaeological museum, a long ancient cemetery area with sarcophagus called necropolis, and a Turkish bath are the places recommended to visit. On the hill, there used to be an ancient Roman sanctuary called Hiearpolis.
Izmir, in the middle of the Aegean region of the Anatolian peninsula, is located around the natural bay of İzmir, a port city. The ancient name is Smyrna. Ephesus and Smryna were two ports of export and import facilities in the Roman world during the time of Pax Romana, Roman Peace. This glory was ended towards the end of the 5th C AD and Smyrna became a small Byzantine town in 6th C AD. The first European merchants were Venetians in 1530 and later British and Dutch business people began making trade with Ottomans. Three major religions of the world; Islam, Christianity and Judaism can be practised freely by its believers in İzmir so this city has been known as the city of tolerance for centuries, excellent weather conditions make the area very fertile for growing all kinds of fruits, vegetables and grains so Izmir is the center of agriculture in Turkey. Famous sultana raisins, Smyrna figs, red wine, cotton and olives are grown.
Kusadasi was established as an alternative port and naval base for Ephesus just before Ephesus fell because of the earthquakes and malaria in late 7th C AD in Byzantine period.
Joining the list of UNESCO World Heritage Cities in 1985, the extraordinary natural and cultural masterpiece of Central Anatolia in Turkey, ‘Cappadocia’ (Kapadokya in Turkish) dominates a 40 km area in between the districts of Avanos and Urgup located in Nevsehir. The rocky wonderland includes a network of human-made caves such as spaces of worship, living quarters, stables, and storehouses excavated into the soft stone. Cappadocia dates back to the prehistoric times. It has hosted various civilizations like Hittites, Assyrians, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Romans, Seljuk and Ottomans.
I include for you a website full of information on Turkey – Cornucopia is the magazine for connoisseurs of Turkey – gorgeous enough for the coffee table, serious enough to be found in academic libraries. This truly remarkable publication – beautiful, uncompromising and independent – is an ever-growing compendium of all things Turkish: history, culture, art, food, travel… http://www.cornucopia.net/
Start reading up on Turkey and just imagine what you will see… For you book lovers out there, here is a wonderful book to read to give you that inspiration you may need… ‘At Home In Turkey’ by Berrin Torolsan.
Please click on each day to bring up the itinerary for that day
Day 1. Sept 5. Saturday. Arrival in Istanbul
Once you have arrived into Istanbul, make your way to your hotel, the Yasmak Sultan, where the rest of the day you are at leisure to relax and get ready for our tour tomorrow.
Yasmak Sultan Hotel Istanbul, Double/Twin or Single room…3 nights.
The Yasmak Sultan Hotel is a charming four star hotel in Istanbul that places you in the epicenter of the cultural heritage of this Eternal City. Rooms are newly renovated to offer guests the harmony, comfort and warm atmosphere they deserve. From the hotel you have easy access to all of the most important, most magical sights both of ancient Costantinople and modern Istanbul. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazaar are at your doorstep. All that Istanbul’s Old City Center has to offer is within walking distance of the Yasmak Sultan Hotel. The Sultan Spa offers indulgent treatments, indoor swimming pool and exceptional dining experiences on the rooftop of Olive Restaurant which serves exceptional Turkish Cuisine while you take in the breathtaking views of the Bosphorus, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia. ‘Our goal is to provide you with the genuine feel of Turkish hospitality during your stay with us.’ https://www.hotelyasmaksultan.com
Day 2. Sept 6. Sunday. Nezahat Gokyigit Botanic Garden, Sabanci Museum, Dolmabahce Palace
After breakfast drive the Asian Side of Istanbul to explore…
Nezahat Gokyigit Botanic Garden, an unexpected oasis among the towering high-rise blocks and motorways that surround it. To date, more than 50,000 trees and shrubs have been planted in this 50-hectare park, which aspires to establish the largest collection of oaks in the world. A section of the garden is devoted to scented plants and there is also a rock and scree garden. Ali Nihat Gökyiğit began planting flowers in memory of his late wife in 1995. It since has mushroomed into many islands of themed gardens including collections of native irises and crocuses the envy of Kew. Black Sea rainforest and salt-desert gardens and formal Ottoman parterres flourish against a backdrop of futuristic tower blocks and constant motion.
Did you know? Mulberries come in an array of hues: black, white, pink, purple; some enticingly sweet, others astringent and healing. As Berrin Torolsan can testify, having grown up with them in her Istanbul garden, all are adored – by man, mallard and pine marten alike. Here she traces the history of this luscious fruit.
Sabanci Museum used to be the home of the Sabanci Family, one of the two richest families of Turkey with a landscaped garden overlooking the Bosphorus. You will see exquisite calligraphic art spanning a period from the 14th to 20th century, Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s Arts of the Book and Calligraphy Collection consists of Koran manuscripts and prayer books written by renowned calligraphers, albums compiling pages of Koranic verses, hadith, aphorisms and verses decorated with ornamental works and cut-papers; large panels composed to be hung on the wall just like paintings; official documents bearing the imperial cipher of the Ottoman sultans, some of which are illuminated, and calligrapher’s tools made of silver and organic substances, such as coral, ivory, bone and tortoise shell, religious and state documents, paintings of the Ottoman era as well as the perfectly manicured and sculpture filled garden.
Dolmabahce Palace. This site was one of the natural coves in Bosporus. In mythology it is the place where Argonauts’ legendary ship “Argo” had anchored in order to find the Golden Pelt, and in history Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror had beached his ships again in this cove to cross over to the Golden Horn during the conquest of Istanbul. This cove was where the Ottoman Admirals anchored the naval fleet and the traditional maritime ceremonies took place. In the early 19th century, Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839) enjoyed living in a large wooden palace in the “filled garden”. Mahmut’s son Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861), perhaps influenced by his father’s preference and by pleasant youthful years at Dolmabahçe decided to live here permanently. He commissioned the imperial architects of the Balyan family to tear down the old wooden structure and build a huge, sumptuous new palace on the spot. It didn’t matter to the sultan that he really didn’t have the money to do this. He was the sultan, after all. When it was finished, the sultan abandoned Topkapı and moved his harem to Dolmabahçe. The palace has a façade nearly a quarter mile (400 meters) long, 285 rooms and 43 large salons. The floors are covered in half a hectare (over an acre) of silk and wool Hereke carpets. The Bohemian crystal chandelier in the Throne Room, the world’s largest, weighs 4-1/2 tons and has 750 lights. https://www.dolmabahcepalace.com/
Overnight in Istanbul. (B, D)
Day 3. Sept 7. Monday. Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Gulhane Park & Grand Bazar
The Blue Mosque whose interior walls are covered with twenty thousand blue Iznik tiles, features many different tulip, rose, carnation, and lily designs and is truly magnificent. More than 200 stained glass windows. The design of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is the culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church developments. It incorporates some Byzantine elements of the neighboring Hagia Sophia with traditional Islamic architecture and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period of Ottoman Empire. The architect has applied the ideas of his master Sinan, aiming for overwhelming size, majesty and splendour.
Topkapi Palace. It is the largest and oldest palace in the world to survive to this day. The palace is surrounded by 5 km of walls and occupied an area of 700,000 sq. m at the tip of the historical peninsula. It consists of three courtyards, each serving a different purpose. Therefore it was the heart, the brain, the very center of the Ottoman Empire http://www.tourmakerturkey.com/topkapi-palace.html
Gulhane Park, was once the palace preserve of Topkapı Palace, open only to the sultan, his harem, and other VIPs. which is now the oldest and one of the most expansive public parks, having wide paths, flowers, water features, and a large number of gracious and established plane trees, some dating back to the 19th century. Near the tea house is the Column of the Goths, a lofty 18.5-meter (60.6-foot) monolith of Proconnesian marble topped by a Corinthian capital. It is the oldest Roman-era monument in Istanbul still in its original location, believed to have been erected here in the late 3rd or early 4th centuries to celebrate Rome’s victories over the Goths in the Balkans. This area at the tip of Istanbul’s historic peninsula, called Sarayburnu (Seraglio Point), in the very oldest part of the city, thought to be where Byzas founded his trading colony (667 BCE), and where Septimius Severus built Augusta Antonina in the 3rd century CE. http://www.tourmakerturkey.com/gulhane-park.html
Grand Bazar, built in 1453. The ultimate medieval “shopping center,” with 4000 shops, fun whether you buy or just browse. Not all of them, by the way, are for tourists; locals shop here as well, lending a welcome dose of authenticity. http://www.tourmakerturkey.com/grand-bazaar.html
Tips for shopping https://turkeytravelplanner.com/details/Shopping/HowToBargain.html
Overnight in Istanbul. (B, L)
Day 4. Sept 8. Tuesday. Underground Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Basilica of St. Sophia & Fly to Denizli
Underground Basilica Cistern, largest surviving Byzantium Cistern, Beneath Istanbul lie hundreds of gloomy Byzantine cisterns. They’re left from the days when Istanbul was Constantinople. The grandest of all is the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıç), so called because it lay beneath the Stoa Basilica, a grand Byzantine public square. It’s also called the Sunken Palace Cistern (Yerebatan Saray Sarnıçı) because that’s what it looks like. Built by Justinian after 532, the Basilica Cistern stored water for the Great Palace and nearby buildings. Lost to memory, it was rediscovered by Petrus Gyllius, who came to Constantinople in search of Byzantine monuments. Gyllius, who noticed that local people got their water by lowering buckets through holes in the floors of their houses, found an entrance and thus put it back on the map. Whatever you call it, it’s impressive because of its size, measuring 138 meters (453 feet) long and 64.6 meters (212 feet) wide, covering nearly 9800 square meters (2.4 acres); its capacity (80,000 cubic meters—over 21 million US gallons) and its 336 marble columns.
The Ottomans used it to supply Topkapı Palace.
Remember the scene in the old James Bond movie From Russia With Love when Bond is rowing in a small boat through a forest of marble columns? That scene was filmed in Yerebatan. https://www.yerebatan.com/ http://www.tourmakerturkey.com/basilica-cistern.html
Hippodrome Istanbul’s Byzantine Hippodrome was the heart of Constantinople’s political and sporting life, and the scene of games and riots through 500 years of Ottoman history as well.
Basilica of St. Sophia that has inspired architects and religious leaders for hundreds of years. Constructed in 326 by Constantine the Great, it has been a cathedral, a mosque, and now a museum. ‘The Church of the Divine Wisdom in Sultanahmet, Istanbul is one of the most impressive and important buildings ever constructed. Its wide, flat dome was a daring engineering feat in the 6th century, and architects still marvel at the building’s many innovations… Called Hagia Sophia in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin, Ayasofya in Turkish, it was built on the site of Byzantium‘s acropolis. Being the world’s most impressive building, it’s no wonder that Mehmet the Conqueror proclaimed it a mosque soon after his conquest of the city from the Byzantines in 1453. It served as Istanbul‘s most revered mosque until 1935 when Atatürk, recognizing its world-historical significance, had it proclaimed a museum. Most of the 30 million gold tesserae (tiny mosaic tiles) which cover the church’s interior—especially the dome— have recently been restored to the brilliance they boasted 1500 years ago.
Then transfer to the Istanbul Airport to have late afternoon flight to Denizli. Overnight in Pamukkale. (B, D)
Doga Thermal Hotel, Pamukkale – 1 night, Double/Twin or Single, Standard Room
Doga Thermal is much more than just a hotel. Doga Thermal a fully equipped natural bath, spa and wellness centre. When you enter through the front door you will be taken by surprise, the foyer is taken over by a circular indoor swimming pool and poolside beds, feel yourself transported to a tropical oasis. This hotel takes a unique architectural design, resembling a Greek amphitheater but lined with rows of elegant rooms in place of stone seats. Even from the top floor you will be able to look down to the foyer from the internal balcony. If you are looking for a little relaxation and recreation then this is certainly an ideal place to base yourself when visiting Pamukkale. http://www.dogathermalhotel.com/
Day 5. Sept 9. Wednesday. Pamukkale – Izmir (225 Km / 4.5 hours driving)
Our journey continues to Izmir, making a stop for Pamukkale, a magnificent, unique natural formation. Over the last 14,000 years, calcium rich water from an underground thermal spring has flowed over the mountainside and slowly solidified, creating Shallow White Basins and Twisted Stalagmites. Pamukkale is a town in western Turkey known for the mineral-rich thermal waters. It neighbors Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city founded around 190 B.C.
Overnight in Izmir. (B, L)
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Izmir-Alsancak, Double/Twin or Single Guestroom, 3 nights.
Guests staying at this hotel in Izmir enjoy easy access to the historic old town, tempting restaurants, shopping malls, markets and a variety of entertainment options. Energize with a workout in the complimentary fitness center, swim in the sparkling waters of the rooftop pool, or unwind with a Turkish bath or a massage in the tranquil spa. At sunset, gaze out over incredible sea views as you sip an aperitif or a cocktail in the stylish Rooftop Bar and Restaurant, before savoring regional Turkish and Mediterranean specialties in the elegant Smyrna Restaurant.
Day 6. Sept 10. Thursday Izmir: Urla (140 Km / 2 hours driving)
Our included destination today is Urla where we will visit a truly beautiful and hidden plantation that has some of the largest collections of plant species in Europe with over 58 varieties of palms, various types of conifers, cacti, aromatic plants, broad leaved trees, olive trees some of which dated back 1,000 years, and taste delicious local olive oil. In the afternoon enjoy tasting Urla wines; having history dated 4th Millennium BC. in one of the boutique vineyards of Urla. Overnight in Izmir. (B, L)
Day 7. Sept 11. Friday. Izmir: Ephesus (170 Km / 2 hours driving)
Today’s excursion takes us to Ephesus, the largest ancient city ever uncovered. Once populated with 300,000 people, it has an enormous amphitheatre, which can still hold 24,000 spectators. As you walk down the marble covered streets, see gymnasiums, bath houses, public latrines, the library of Celsus and the Temple of Artemis. In the afternoon explore House of Virgin Mary, where she is believed to have spent her last few days. Overnight in Izmir. (B, L) http://www.tourmakerturkey.com/ephesus.html
Day 8. Sept 12. Saturday. Izmir - Fly to Cappadocia
Today we will fly to Cappadocia, a World Heritage site with its culture and nature rooted in Turkey. (B, D)
BW Premier Hotel Cappadocia, Double/Twin and Single Standard Room, 3 nights
Set in a lush garden, Best Western Premier Cappadocia in Ürgüp is near Cappadocia’s rock formations. This renovated hotel has terraces and on-site restaurants. 76 rooms that are different from one another, all with terrace or balcony. Enjoy a variety of recreational facilities, including indoor pool, hot tub and sauna. You can eat in the restaurant of this hotel, which has a bar, or take advantage of the 24-hour room service. Enjoy your favorite drink at the bar / lounge or at the poolside bar.
Day 9. Sept 13. Sunday. Cappadocia – Pasabagi & Goreme Valley
After breakfast visit hidden monastic valley of Pasabagi, which has a large number of carved rock houses and enjoy a visit to a local municipality carpet cooperation, sort of a carpet farm where you will get the chance to explore the district from a cultural perspective. http://www.tourmakerturkey.com/pasabagi.html
Our tour continues with the fascinating Goreme Valley. The lunar like landscape of this region is eerie, yet beautiful. Over thousands of years, the rain has eroded this landscape to give rise to strange rock formations known as “Fairy Chimneys”. Many of these have homes and churches carved into them. Some of the grottos are magnificently decorated with colourful frescoes depicting biblical scenes. Lunch will be in Museum Restaurant in Ortahisar where you may explore the town after on you own.
Overnight in Cappadocia. (B, D)
Day 10. Sept 14. Monday. Cappadocia – Avanos
After breakfast explore a typical Turkish village, Avanos to see the techniques of ceramic art dating from 12th B.C. to 3rd B.C. periods and then we will explore. Enjoy home cooking class and lunch with local family. In the afternoon you are free on your own exploration of Cappadocia and resting for overseas flight tomorrow. Enjoy your farewell dinner in one of the local restaurants of Cappadocia.
Overnight in Cappadocia. (B, L, D)
Day 11. Sept 15. Tuesday. Cappadocia – Fly from Kayseri Airport
After breakfast transfer to Kayseri Airport to have a flight to home connection with Istanbul. (B)
Not Included: International Flights and domestic flight from Cappadocia to Istanbul on departure flight, insurance, meals not noted and drinks not included, items of a personal nature and extra hotel charges such as daily maid servicing.
We have a limited amount of pre tour night rooms available at 160 Euros per night per room which includes breakfast and taxes and is for either single or twin/double. Please advise if you require.
Treasures of Turkey – Istanbul, Denizli, Pamukkale, Urla, Ephesus and Cappadocia
September 5th – September 15th, 2020
Land package 3650 Euros per person for Twin bed sharing or Double bed
For those wanting their own room please add 1080 Euros to above price (single rooms very limited)
Tour is priced in the currency we pay our suppliers at destination. Due to exchange rate volatility, we only convert to Canadian dollars at time of final payment at the prevailing exchange rates at that time. Your final payment will be in Canadian Dollars.
Note: Minimum of 6 guests must be registered for this tour to run, so please do not book your air until you are notified that we have reached this.
Tour is subject to changes in itinerary but not tour dates.