12 Days of Aegean History
Day 1: Istanbul
Arrival in Istanbul, the only city founded on two continents; Europe and Asia. Orientation tour, and transfer to hotel. Evening at leisure. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 2 : Istanbul
Visit the Dolmabahce Palace, a masterpiece of the 19th century palaces in the Renaissance Style. Located on the Bosphorus, it is the second largest Ottoman Palace, and one of the richest palaces in the world. Proceed to Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, where one glimpses the opulent life of the Ottoman upper class in the time of Suleyman the Magnificent. Highlights among the exhibits, date from the 8th and 9th centuries up to the 19th century. Visit the Hippodrome where chariot races and athletic events took place during the Roman Period, and the Blue Mosque, famous for its magnificently tiled interior. Later visit the Underground Cistern ( Yerebatan Sarayi),by far the largest of the many Underground Cisterns in the city remaining from Roman times, and the Museum of St. Sophia, a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and one of the most extraordinary buildings in the history of architecture. Visit the Grand Bazaar, the old Ottoman shopping mall with 4,000 tiny shops. Evening at leisure. Overnight at the hotel in Istanbul. ( B ,L)
Day 3: Istanbul
After breakfast drive along the Golden Horn the historic neighborhood visit the Museum of St. Saviour of Chora, one of the most important monuments of Istanbul, with marvelous mosaics and frescoes representing scenes from the life of the Virgin and Christ. Next visit the Suleymaniye Mosque. Istanbul’s most important mosque is both a tribute to its architect, Sinan, and a fitting memorial to its founder, Suleyman the Magnificent. The mosque was not only a place of worship, but also a charitable foundation or Kulliye, and is surrounded by its former hospital, soup kitchen, schools, caravan serai and bathhouse.
Explore the Topkapi Palace Museum, the great palace of the Ottoman Sultans, and enjoy the dazzling displays of treasures, the unique collection of Chinese, Japanese, Porcelains, and countless of artifacts. Then continue to the Archaeological Museum with a rich collection of classical antiquities including Roman statues, and one of the most beautiful sarcophaguses in the world, the Alexander the Great sarcophagus. We will see displays of antiquities from the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hatti and Hitite civilizations, and return to the hotel. Overnight in Istanbul . (B,L)
Day 4: Edirne
We will have an early departure for Edirne, the second capital city of the Ottoman Empire on the border of Bulgaria. It is famous for its Ottoman buildings, and historic success in greased wrestling. Visit the Selimiye Mosque, one of the most famous Ottoman mosques, and also built by the architect, Sinan. We continue to visit Old Mosque built in 1414, the Three Galleried Mosque built between 1438-1447. The Sultan Beyazit II Complex was built between 1484 – 1488. This is one of the biggest welfare foundations of the Empire. We will see colorful Bazaars – Caravanserais. After lunch in Edirne, continue to Canakkale, and on route visit the WW1 bottle field ( The Gallipoli Peninsula ), the scene of one of the most notorious military campaigns of World War 1. We will visit the Anzac Cove, War Museum, Lone Pine Cemetery, Chunuk Bair (Conk Bayiri ). Afterwards we cross the Dardanelles strait to Canakkale Dinner and overnight in Canakkale. (B, D)
Day 5: Canakkale – Troy – Assos – Ayvalik / Assos
Morning visit the legendary TROY, immortalized by Homer’s Illiad. This is the epic story of the war between Greeks and Trojans over beautiful Helen during the 1200 B.C. This was the first war between the Europe and Asia, lasting 10 years, and finally ending when Greeks invaded Troy using the famous wooden horse. Excavations have unearthed nine cities or settlement, dating from 3000 B.C to 400 A. D. Drive to Assos with a stop on the way to Alexandria Troas, an important city at the time of Lysimachos in 2 B.C., a place frequently visited by St. Paul. Assos is famed for its relation with Aristotle, the tutor of Alexander the Great. This ancient city went through the Lydian , Persian, Alexander the Great, Pergamum, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Apostle Paul visited Assos on his missionary journey in 58 A.D. He met Luke and other companions in the city and they sailed to Lesbos. Dinner and Overnight in Assos / Ayvalik. (B,D)
Day 6 : Assos / Ayvalik – Pergamum – Sardis – Izmir (Symrna)
After breakfast drive to Pergamum along the mystical Agean coast. Pergamum was once was the rival city of Ephesus and the capital of the rich Pergamum Kingdom before the Roman Empire. It was an advanced city specializing in commerce, culture, art and medicine. Galen worked as a doctor in Pergamum’s healing center of Asclepion. Parchment was invented in Pergamum, which was home to the great Library of Pergamum. Visit the Aeropolis, the Altar of Zeus, the Temple of Trojan, Temple of Athena the Library and Asclopion. After lunch drive to Sardis (Via Akhisar-Thyatera). Sardis was founded was founded in the middle of the fertile valley of Gediz ( Hermus) in 1200 B. C. Sardis was the capital of strong rich Lydian Kingdom that had dominated much of the Aegean area before the Persians came (546C B.C.). The city continued to flourish during the Roman and the Byzantine periods. The ruins of Sardis spread over a large area. Visit The Gymnasium and Bath Complex the Synagogue, ancient shops, and the Temple of Artemis which was built by King Croesus of Lydia in 6C B.C. Continue to Izmir (Symrna) for Dinner and Overnight. (B,D)
Day 7 : Izmir – Ephesus – Kusadasi
Morning orientation tour in Izmir, the third largest city of Turkey and the provincial capital of western Turkey. The city stands at a central position on the western coast of Asia Minor in the splendid Gulf of Izmir. Izmir (Symrna) was founded around 3000 B.C. by Trojan Yortan, (Indiginous Anatolians). It was the birthplace of Homer who wrote the Illiad. It was one of the most prosperous cities of Ottoman Empire, and is one of the seven Churches of Asia Minor mentioned in Revelation. Drive to Ephesus, home to St. Paul between 53 AD and 57 AD to visit the most impressive archeological site of today. The city, dedicated to Artemis, is the best-preserved archeological site in Turkey, and one of the most outstanding classical sites and tourist attractions in Turkey. During the Roman era, Ephesus was known worldwide as a city of trade, art, entertainment, banking and finance. An extremely a wealthy city, it was a dream city that everybody in the ancient world wanted to see at least once in his/her life. It was founded at the end of the old Silk Road , where the merchants from east and west used to meet. Ephesus reached its peak as the capital of the Roman Province of Asia Minor. Many different religions were practiced in Ephesus. You will truly feel you have traveled back in time, as you stroll along the 2000 years old marble streets, visit the Odeon ,the Gymnasium, the state Agora, the Marble Street where St. Paul walked and held daily discussions, the Selcius Library, The Temple Hadrian the Bath Complex, and the Great Theater. Visit the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, and in the afternoon visit the Ephesus Museum which houses many relics from Ephesus. We will see The Basilica of St. John and the tomb, where, according to tradition, St. John the divine was buried. Continue to visit the last home of the Virgin Mary. John brought the Virgin Mary to live here in peace in her final years. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi. (B.D)
DAY 8 : Kusadasi – Aphrodisias – Kusadasi
Buffet breakfast. Depart from the Hotel for Aphrodisias, a cultural center of the ancient world, renowned for its school of sculpture, philosophy and medicine. Aphrodisian works adorned every corner of the empire, including Rome itself. Aphrodisias was one of the earliest occupied sites in Anatolia. It is a new site, which has been excavated by the late Prof. Kenan Erim of New York University. Aphrodisias was prosperous during the Roman period, and the Aphrodisians were amply awarded for their support of Romans during the Mithridatic war. Many special privileges were granted. Explore its best-preserved stadium, theater, bath, double agora and outstanding museum. Return to Kusadasi for dinner and overnight. (B.D)
DAY 9 : Kusadasi – Miletus – Didyma – Bodrum
Drive to visit three great Ionian Cities. Visit first Priene was founded in 11th century BC and was an important city around 300 BC. Priene was a planned town, with its streets laid out in a grid (the grid system originated in Miletus). Visit the Bouleuterion (or council house), the Temple of Athena and other remains. Priene is the best-preserved Hellenistic town in Ionia. Continue to the ancient city of Miletus, the largest of the Ionian city found in 1500 BC by Mycenean colony. As a result of its extensive trading activities and of commerce generated by its proximity to the oracle of Apollo at Didyma, Miletus became one of the wealthiest cities in the Aegean. In the 7 C, 6 C BC its prosperity produced remarkable developments in philosophy and science. Miletus was the home of Thales(636 – 546 BC ), of Anaximander (610-546 BC) and Anaximenes (544 BC), Hippodamus (450 BC) and Hecataeus (500 BC).
Visit the Lion Harbor, the Agora, Bouleuterian, Bath of Faustina, and Greko-Roman Theater, where St. Paul gave his emotional goodbye message to the elders of Ephesus. Drive to nearby Didyma to visit the remarkably well-preserved Temple of Apollo, where an oracle as important as the Oracle of Delphi lived. Then drive to Bodrum, known in ancient times as Halicarnassus, founded about 1200 BC by Dorians, and the birthplace of Heredotus. Bodrum is known today as the yachting center of Turkey and continues its ancient tradition of ship building specializing in wooden hulled yachts known as Gullets. Bodrum is also famous for its night-life and bars. Dinner and overnight in Bodrum. (B.D)
Day 10: Bodrum
Full day tour including a visit to the medieval Castle of Bodrum, and the Museum of Underwater Archeology, one of the finest of its kind in the world. The castle was built by the Knights of St. John between 1402 and 1437, and replaced an earlier castle built on the same site. Visit the Mauseleum (Tomb) of King Mauseleus built in the 4th century B.C., which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Dinner and Overnight at the hotel in firstname.lastname@example.org Bodrum. (B.D)
Day 11: Bodrum – Istanbul
In the morning / afternoon transfer to the Bodrum Airport for Istanbul flight. Arrive in Istanbul. Meet and transfer to Hotel. Overnight at the Hotel in Istanbul. (B)
Day 12: Departure Istanbul…….
After breakfast Transfer to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport for the homebound flight. (B)
- 4 Nights in Istanbul, 1 Night in Canakkale, 1 Night in Assos or Ayvalik, 1 Night in Izmir, 2 Nights in Kusadasi, 2 Nights in Bodrum.
- 2 Lunches, 6 Dinners, daily buffet breakfast.
- All sightseeing tours as indicated in the itinerary .
- Entrance fees to the museums and sights.
- Ground transportation and round –trip airport transfers by luxury air-conditioned Van/Car/Bus.
- Tipping at restaurants and hotels, baggage handling .
- Toll roads, bridges, parking, and ferry boat.
- Service of professional English or other languages speaking tour guide.
- One way domestic flight service charge and local tax.
- Travel Insurance airfare, airport taxes, gratuities to your guide and driver.
- Personal expenses such as, beverages, meals, sightseeing not included in the itinerary.
- Extra expenses at hotels such as communication etc.